iolence fueled by transnational organized crime
and drug trafficking has dramatically increased murder rates in
Central America, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday.
Three countries have the world's highest homicide rates, he said. Guatemala has 39 murders for every 100,000 people, El Salvador 72 murders per 100,000 and Honduras 86 murders per 100,000.
"Caught between drug producing countries in the south and some of the major consumer countries in the north, proximity has encouraged criminality," Ban told a meeting on security in Central America.
Among 20-year-old men, one in 50 will be murdered before age 32, 400 times higher than the rate in countries with low murder rates, Ban said.
"This is more than a spate of killings - it is a crisis," he said, "bringing with it great fear and instability to societies."
Participants in the debate called for international cooperation to fight crime and drug trafficking and noted that political instability fuels crime rates.
Italian Justice Minister Paola Severino urged measures such as a stronger justice systems and police institutions, citing Italy's experience in fighting organized crime, and following money trails to prevent gangsters from laundering their profits.
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