Homicides in Colombia up 16% in 2009

A report to be presented on Tuesday by Colombia’s Institute for Legal Medicine and Forensic Science finds that Colombia’s murder rate increased by 16% in 2009 from the previous year.

A total of 17, 717 homicides were recorded throughout the country, an increase of 2,467 from the 15,250 violent deaths counted in 2008.

The figures average 47 murders per day and 1,410 per month for the year 2009.

The numbers give Colombia a homicide rate of 39.39 per every 100,000 inhabitants. Although this is an increase over last year’s rate, it is significantly lower than murder rates recorded in the earlier part of the decade, which topped 60 per every 100,000 inhabitants and were the highest recorded in the world at the time.

The number does differ from the numbers used by the country’s Defense Ministry this weekend to prove the success of the administration of President Alvaro Uribe in the past eight years. According to the government, the murder rate in 2009 was 32 per 100,000.

The top cause of violent death was firearms, while transit accidents made up the largest part of accidental deaths.

The report also noted a rise in all types of violence in 2009, including suicides and injuries sustained from assault or rape. Around one-third of violent and/or sexual attacks counted by the institute were perpetrated by a family member of the victim.

The institute will present all of this information in a report titled “Forensics Data for Life, 2009.”

The document gathers the figures about the occurrence of violence and accidents in Colombia, and analyzes them from the perspective of public health, so that government and medical officials can use the data to make policies aimed at lowering the incidence of these events.

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