By JULIEN NEAVES Thursday, November 27 2014 (T&T Newsday)

WITH a population of a mere 1.3 million, this country T&T has been ranked 12th in a United Nations (UN) study among countries worldwide where the most homicides occur. Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams says he is not surprised by the report findings, noting this country is “a very violent place.”

He was responding to an article published on businessinsider.com entitled “The 12 Countries Where The Most Homicides Occur” and which referenced a UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Global Study on Homicide 2013.

The rankings are categorised as number of murders per 100,000 people and specifically related to 2012:

- Honduras, 90.4

- Venezuela, 53.7

- Belize, 44.7

- El Salvador, 41.2

- Guatemala, 39.9

- Jamaica, 39.3

- Swaziland, 33.8

- St Kitts and Nevis, 33.6

- South Africa, 31.0

- Colombia, 30.8

- The Bahamas, 29.8

- Trinidad and Tobago, 28.3

The global average homicide rate stands at 6.2 per 100,000 population, and this country’s rate in 2012 was more than five times that figure. Caribbean neighbours Jamaica and St Kitts and Nevis placed sixth and eight respectively.

The study gives a comprehensive overview of intentional homicide across the world. According to the UN office producing the report, the overall study seeks to shed light on the worst of crimes — the “unlawful death purposefully inflicted on a person by another person.”

The report noted that in 2012, intentional homicide took the lives of almost half-a-million people worldwide, adding that the study of intentional homicide is relevant not only because it is the study of the ultimate crime, whose ripple effect goes far beyond the initial loss of human life, but because lethal violence can create a climate of fear and uncertainty.

The UNODC says intentional homicide also victimises the family and community of the victim, who can be considered secondary victims, and when justice is not served, impunity can lead to further victimisation in the form of the denial of the basic human right to justice.

Williams yesterday told Newsday he was not surprised by this country’s ranking. He said that Latin America and the Caribbean globally are the two regions most outstanding by way of homicides.

For this country, Williams said the ranking does not mean anything to him as Commissioner, but the question is, “what does it mean to Trinidad and Tobago?”

“What it means to Trinidad and Tobago is that Trinidad and Tobago is a very violent place and the society, they have to recognise that. We can’t put our heads in the sand,” he said.

Williams noted that when the media print the tracking of homicides “and pushing in people’s heads on a daily basis the issue of violence and homicide, it isn’t helping our country and it ain’t helping our image, it isn’t helping our young people”.

He questioned whether anywhere in the world there is tracking of the homicide rate as is done by the local media “I’d love to know”.

Williams said if young people continue to be familiarised with violence it will “remain in their heads”.

“We as a society have to recognise that we have to improve and we have to improve across the board. We have to improve by way of what the media does, by way of what we do individually and we have to improve by way of our love and care for each other,” he added.

He noted that the environment helps to shape you. He gave the example of a child playing with guns “and when they grow into an adult they also want guns to be a feature of things.” For this year so far, 369 murders have been committed — including the murder of an elderly German couple who were hacked to death on the weekend while vacationing in Tobago.