Above: downtown Kingston
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Jamaica has the Caribbean’s highest murder rate, although the 1,124 murders reported in 2011 were a seven-year low for the country, according to the Caribbean Human Development Report 2012.
The report, the first UN Human Development Report focusing on the Caribbean, is the result of consultations with 450 experts and leaders and a survey of 11,555 citizens in seven countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.
Only El Salvador and Honduras have higher murder rates in the world than Jamaica, which has an average of 60 per 100,000 inhabitants.
In Trinidad, the murder rate increased five-fold over a decade, to about 40 per 100,000 in 2008, until falling to 36 in 2010.
“Violence limits people’s choices, threatens their physical integrity, and disrupts their daily lives,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at the report’s launch in Port of Spain. “The report stresses the need to rethink our approaches to tackling crime and violence and providing security on the ground.”
According to the report, crime costs Jamaica $529 million per year in lost income. In Trinidad, a one percent reduction in youth crime would boost tourism revenue by $35 million per year.
The total cost of gang-related crime on the regional economy is between 2.8 percent and 4 percent of GDP.