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The Caribbean Human Development Report 2012 Human Development and the Shift to Better Citizen Security was launched in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, on 8 February 2012. The report says that with the exception of Barbados and Suriname, homicide rates including gang-related killings have increased substantially in the last 12 years across the Caribbean, while they have been falling or stabilizing in other parts of the world.
Although murder rates are exceedingly high by world standards, the report says that Caribbean governments can reverse the trend, calling for regional governments to beef up public institutions to tackle crime and violence -including the criminal justice system-while boosting preventive measures.
"Violence limits people's choices, threatens their physical integrity, and disrupts their daily lives," said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark at the report's launch ceremony with Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and UNDP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Heraldo Muñoz.
"This report stresses the need to rethink our approaches to tackling crime and violence and providing security on the ground. We need to follow approaches that are centred on citizen security and address the causes of this recent increase in violent crime, including social, economic, and political exclusion," Helen Clark said.
The new study recommends that Caribbean governments implement youth crime prevention through education, as well as provide employment opportunities that target the marginalized urban poor. A shift in focus is needed it says, from a state protection approach to one that focuses on citizen security and participation, promoting law enforcement that is fair, accountable, and more respectful of human rights.
The Caribbean Human Development Report reviews the current state of crime as well as national and regional policies and programmes to address the problem in seven English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Tackling the problem
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) estimates reveal the cost of gang-related crime is between 2.8 percent and four percent of gross domestic product in the region through both the cost of policing and as a result of lost income from youth incarceration and reduced tourism. According to the study, crime costs Jamaica alone over US$529 million a year in lost income. In Trinidad and Tobago, a one percent reduction in youth crime would boost tourism revenue by US$35 million per year. For every additional "gang" in a community, homicide rates increased by about 10 percent, according to a recent research featured in the Caribbean Human Development Report.
Crime erodes confidence in future development, reduces the competitiveness of existing industries and services, for example, by imposing burdensome security-and may deter investment, the report says. Education and health care also suffer when resources are diverted to law enforcement.
The following are key recommendations from the Report, which result from extensive consultations with 450 experts, practitioners, and leaders and reflect a large-scale survey with 11,555 citizens in the seven assessed countries:
The new study also highlights other effects of crime that generally go unreported, such as low educational achievement and poor health among youth, physical and psychological pain, suffering and trauma caused by youth violence, reduced quality of life, the marginalization of youth and negative stereotypes that fuel further aggressive behaviour among young people.
The Caribbean Human Development Report 2012 is available on http://www.regionalcentrelac-undp.org/en/hdr-caribbean.
The Caribbean Human Development Report (HDR) 2012: Human Development and the Shift to Better Citizen Security, commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the first HDR on the Caribbean analyses the impact of insecurity and violence on human development, within the development context of Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS). Most importantly, the Caribbean HDR provides evidence based recommendations on how to better address insecurity and violence in the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean countries.
The Caribbean is diverse, comprising several geographic groupings, including island countries and nations on the mainland. The scope of the Caribbean HDR is, however, limited to the English- and Dutch-speaking countries, two sub-regions where insecurity has become a very serious threat to human development, particularly in the former. Seven countries were selected for research, in order to represent variations in geography, population size, level of development, and the degree and character of the problem of insecurity. The selected countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago (Caribbean - 7).
The central idea of the Caribbean Human Development Report (CHDR) 2012 is the need for Caribbean countries to complete the shift from the traditional concept of security - state security, to a broader, multi-dimensional concept that focuses on individual safety and well-being - citizens' security and participation, promoting law enforcement that is fair, accountable, and more respectful of human rights.
The UNDP's approach to compiling this report has been a democratic, people-centered approach involving several multi-stakeholder consultations which guided the research. The approach is data driven and recognizes the transnational nature of security issues.
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