Kidnappings in Colombia’s capital Bogota have shot up 345 percent in 2012 as compared to the previous year, according to an analysis released Monday from NGO Pais Libre.
Pais Libre’s report, Kidnapping Indicators in Colombia 2012, analyzes Colombian kidnapping records from 2003 to 2012.
The country’s capital, Bogota, saw a spike in kidnappings in 2012 with a total of 49 as compared to 11 kidnappings in 2011 – an increase of 345 percent. Colombia’s highest kidnapping percentage increase was in the central, mineral-rich department of Boyaca, which saw a 1,600 percent jump from one kidnapping in 2011 to 17 in 2012. Colombia’s total number of kidnappings did not increase in 2012, remaining at the 2011 level of 305 persons kidnapped.
Since 2003, kidnapping rates in Colombia have been on the decline. A total of 6,880 people were reported kidnapped in Colombia from 2003 to 2012 and as of last year, Colombia had seen an 86 percent decrease in kidnappings per year. However over the past four years, kidnappings have increased 43 percent from 213 in 2009 to 305 in 2012.
FACT SHEET: Colombia kidnapping statistics
The northwestern department of Antioquia has registered the highest amount of reported kidnappings over the last 10 years representing 12 percent of all reported kidnappings in Colombia. Over the last two years however, the department’s kidnapping rates have dropped 45 percent from 33 in 2011 to 18 in 2012.
Of the myriad of criminal actors in Colombia, who are committing the most kidnappings?
According to the Department for the Defense of Personal Liberty, a department in the Ministry of Defense, most kidnappings over the last 10 years were carried out by common criminals not organized, illegal armed groups.
The second largest actor involved in kidnappings is Colombia’s largest guerrilla insurgency FARC, followed by the second largest guerrilla insurgency ELN, and right-wing, paramilitary umbrella organization AUC (before it demobilized in 2006). The list is rounded out with family and friends of the kidnap victim, drug trafficking organizations, smaller Marxist rebel groups and unknown perpetrators.
Kidnapping in Colombia by perpetrator (2003-2012)
A graph of kidnapping perpetrators from 2011 and 2012 shows a general decline in regards to guerrilla groups and drug trafficking organizations, but a 43 percent increase in kidnappings by common criminals.
So what are these kidnappers after?
According to the report, kidnapping for extortion dropped 15 percent from 208 in 2011 to 177 in 2012. Over the past 10 years however, kidnapping for extortion has dominated the arena with 54 percent of kidnappings reported for extortion purposes, 42 percent for “simple kidnapping” and 4 percent for some other reason.
Simple kidnapping means kidnapping not attended by an aggravating factor, and is relevant to distance in which the victim travels in captivity according to uslegal.com.
Of the 305 kidnap victims in Colombia in 2012, 73 percent are male and 27 percent are female. This figure has remained relatively the same over the past 10 years; with an average of 75 percent of male kidnap victims, 24 percent female, and one percent undetermined.
The fates of the kidnap victims are shown to be more in the hands of their captors than any other party. In 2012, 42 percent of people captured against their will were released by the actor who kidnapped them -a 43 percent increase from 2011- while rescues by security forces dropped by 41 percent from 127 in 2011 to 75 in 2012. Fourteen percent of hostages remained in the hands of their captors in 2012 while, eight percent were released due to pressure from security forces, six percent died in captivity and 5 percent escaped.