Infografik Nr. 615125
Worldwide several hundred thousand people fall victim to a deadly crime every year. Between 1990 and 2017 around 12 million people (the estimates range from 9.2 to 14.3 million) lost their lives in a homicide – far more than through wars (2.2 million). The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated 464 000 persons were murdered in 2017. On the two American continents around 173 000 persons were killed, 163 000 in Africa, 104 000 in Asia and 22 000 in Europe. Across the entire world there were an average of 6.1 homicides per 100 000 persons. In 1993, the homicide rate was at 7.4 per 100 000; since then it has gradually decreased to reach the current level.
The homicide rates on the American continent remained high over the past three decades and even increased recently, thus diverging from this trend. The highest rates were seen in Central America (with 26) in 2017, South America (with 24) and the Caribbean (with 15 homicide victims per 100 000 inhabitants). The sad record at a national level was set by El Salvador (with 62 homicides per 100 000), closely followed by Jamaica (57) and Venezuela (56); Additionally, countries like Honduras, Belize, the Bahamas and Brazil recorded rates of more than 30 homicides per 100 000; in Mexico and Columbia 25 victims of homicides per 100 000 inhabitants were counted. One reason for the higher murder rates in Central America and the Caribbean is the proliferation of organized crime connected to drug trade. However, not all countries are equally affected by this. In recent years more homicides are also being registered in the USA (2017: 5,3 per 100 000 inhabitants) – following a significant decrease in the 1990s.
Limited data is available on Africa. In South Africa the homicide rate fell rapidly following the end of the apartheid regime, having reached a peak in 1993 with nearly 80 homicides per 100 000 inhabitants. However, since 2012 it increased again (up to 36 in 2017). In Eastern Europe Russia had the highest murder rate in 2017 (9 homicides per 100 000 inhabitants). In contrast, the lowest murder rates are found in Southern and Western Europe, East Asia and Oceania where there was less than 1 homicide per 100 000 inhabitants in 2017.
Murder and manslaughter are often associated with negative societal developments: with social injustice, lacking prospects for the future, changed family structures, drug and alcohol addiction, spreading fanatism, increasing general crime and state failure. Also, an increased risk of homicide exists in places where gun possession is common.
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