Monday, November 10, 2014

Dueling Murder Rates

Good News.  Honduras's murder rate has fallen significantly, though the magnitude of the drop depends on who you believe.  The Security Minister reports a homicide rate of 65.55 per 100,000 population, or 15.67 murders per day.  The Observatorio de Violencia, indicates that Honduras is on track to have a murder rate of 71.82 per 100,000, or 17.17 per day.  Still, either of these rates lets Honduras remain the murder capital of the world for nations not a war.

The difference again comes down to what you count as a murder.  Arturo Corrales, the Security Minister, changed the definition of murder back in 2013 to require both a police report and a coroner's report indicating the case is a homicide.  Corrales claims he was just following the recommendations of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB0 on how to construct a comparable murder statistic between countries.  See our previous posting on this topic for a link to that IADB "standard".  We point out in that post some of the shortcomings of the standard.

The Observatorio de Violencia, on the other hand, gathers both the police reports and the coroner's reports and reconcile the two.  There are bodies that lack a police report but have a coroner's report.  There are bodies that have a police report but no coroners report.  The Observatorio, using internationally recognized techniques attempts to determine based on the information available, if those bodies represent a homicide, and if so, include it in their statistics.

The difference so far this year is 623 bodies in the first half of the year that the Security Ministry does not recognize as homicides because they lack a coroner's report.  The Director of the National Police, Ramon Sabillon,  told El Heraldo that until there's a coroner's report the body cannot be incorporated into his database.  His database is the Sistema Estadistico Policial en linia (SEPOL), the official public face of crime statistics in Honduras.

Then too, there's confusion among the official government sources about how many homicides there have been in the first half of 2014.  FUSINA, the inter-institutional police force (combined military and police) says 2442 murders in the first half of the year, while the Police report 2720 homicides.  The coroner's office reports 2442 homicides.

Still, despite the innumeracy of the Honduran government, this is good news.  Murders are decreasing, though slowly. 

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