VICTIM SUPPORT AMERICA PROJECT
We thank VICTIM SUPPORT EUROPE for their invitation to join this important event ‘Achieving Safe Justice for Victims of Crime’ to commemorate the European Day for Victims of Crime.
LATIN AMERICAN SITUATION
For three decades, Latin America has been the most violent region in the world, in a sustained manner and with an upward trend. During the period 1990-2016, the region’s average homicide rate hovered between 14.5 and 16.7 per 100,000 inhabitants, or about two to three times the world average, before rising to 17.2 in 2017. In other words, 37% of homicides on the entire planet are concentrated in the American continent, with barely 8% of the world population, according to the United Nations.
The region has a rate of 21.5 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, more than three times the global average (7 murders per 100,000 inhabitants). In the last 10 years, the regional homicide rate in Latin America has increased 3.7% a year, three times the population growth rate of 1.1%. All these data mean that 17 of the 20 most violent countries in the world are in Latin America. The prospects for the future are not encouraging, quite the contrary: it foresees the continued growth in the number of homicides: in 2030 this rate will increase to 36.9 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
The problem is of such magnitude that 43 of the 50 cities with the most homicides in the world were in Latin America. More than 141 of the Latin American cities (52%) register homicide rates above the regional average (21.5 per 100,000 inhabitants).
In February 2022, we established the Coalition for the Inter-American Convention on the Human Rights of Victims (www.convencionvictimas.org). This Coalition’s objective is to present to the Organization of American States the proposal to launch a Convention in the Americas in a similar way to the one that Europe has had for years.
In October 2022, we presented this proposal to the 52nd OAS General Assembly, held in Lima, Peru, with the names of 40 associations and individuals that support this initiative.
While attending the OAS Assembly in Lima, we realized the urgent need to establish Victim Support America in order to configure these supports in a more effective and efficient way. The data is compelling and shows the urgency and need to solve and prevent the problem.
VICTIM SUPPORT EUROPE
We resorted to the generous help of Victim Support Europe who have supported us by giving us ideas and guides to establish this association in this region.
• We recognize that it is a slow process because we see that the associations that work in favor of victims in the region, especially in Latin America, are very limited in terms of human resources, time and money. The same thing happens to us.
• Although we have investigated the best way to create this inter-American association, we are limited by national laws and processes that do not allow us, for example, to formalize an association with members from different countries. All the members of the civil association must be people from the same country and they would only accept partners or founders who have a residence permit or who have been nationalized.
• We are also in the initial phase of how to attract members to support this initiative, as we still have nothing to offer in return. If we invite the associations that support victims, these, in general, find themselves with very limited resources to be able to contribute something.
• We also find the obstacle of the fear of wanting to help the victims and becoming victims by wanting to help. In our region, given the high level of corruption, there is no judicial or police support or protection, both for victims and for those who want to help them.
• Our job is to continue looking for support from individuals who want to join this venture so that we can also create a simple and realistic plan that will grow little by little.
• We are very enthusiastic and willing to achieve the goal of creating Victim Support America by taking simple steps.
• We plan to participate in the 53rd Annual Assembly of the OAS this year, to follow up on the proposal of the inter-American convention. If the OAS accepts, we hope we can have great support in this region.
We are very grateful to Victim Support Europe for their support and interest in this project. For us, VSE is the model to follow!
Daniel Roggero and Lucía Gayón