Murders are some of the vilest acts of crime in the world because it involves the intentional termination of another person’s life. And the world is not short of these heinous criminals as news of murders constantly hit the headlines around the globe. From the time of Jack the Ripper and the killing of former US President Abraham Lincoln to the recent murders of OJ Simpson’s wife and Jon Benet Ramsey, murders have fixated us, caught our attention and weirdly fascinated a lot of people.
Even just one act of murder should be considered as one too many. Yet, for a lot of countries, murders have become so common that thousands of this crime occur every year. Here is a list of the top 10 countries with the most murders every year. Some countries may be even worse than presented because their population is a lot smaller than the others. For example, though Colombia is only ninth in the list in terms of number of murders, the actual rate of killings for every 100,000 people is 29.9. India may be second on the list, but it does have a huge population and its murder rate for every 100,000 people is only 3.4.
10 Pakistan – 13,860 murders per year
Pakistan recorded 13,860 murders the past year, or a rate of 7.8 murders for every 100,000 people. The number has been greatly worsened due to the fact that Pakistan is at the frontline in the global war against terrorism. The northwest part of the country, in particular, is the location of a lot of armed conflicts between the country’s armed forces and militant groups, such as the TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan), Lashkar-e-Islam and the TNSM (Tehreek-e-Nafaz-Shariat-e-Mohammadi). Further aggravating things are regional armed movements fighting for autonomy and even elements of organized criminal syndicates.
9 Colombia – 13,863 murders per year
Colombia is known as the cocaine capital of the world. Entire areas, such as Medellin and Cali, are run by drug cartels that are not averse to using violence. Back in the 90s, the country’s drug lords were so powerful and operated with such impunity that one masterminded the murder of a football player simply because the player scored an unfortunate own goal while representing the country in the football World Cup in 1994. Worsening matters is a low-intensity conflict between the government and peasant guerrillas.
8 Russia – 14,574 murders per year
When the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 90s, the nation saw its social security system and infrastructures suddenly collapse. As a result, the crime rate in the country increased tremendously. Organized criminal syndicates started to flourish, be it in the trafficking of humans, drugs and arms, theft of vehicles and laundering of money. Murder is also a by-product. By the mid 90s, there were already 8,000 criminal syndicates. By 2000, half of the Russian economy had links with organized crime.
7 South Africa – 15,940 murders per year
The recent case involving Oscar Pistorius and ReevaSteenkamp only highlights the problems facing South Africa. Crimes have been so widespread that Pistorius’s claim that he only shot Steenkamp by accident because he thought criminals had broken in to his house was actually plausible and believable. Getting rid of apartheid in the 90s was a huge victory for black South Africans. Ridding the country of crime or even just minimizing the rate to an acceptable level may be an even bigger triumph for the entire nation.
6 Nigeria – 18,422 murders per year
The African nation of Nigeria is home to a widespread network of organized criminal syndicates. These syndicates are mostly involved in the trafficking of drugs, particularly of cocaine from South America to Europe and South Africa and heroin from Asia to Europe and America. And as with most syndicates that rely on crime for income, murders have become necessary by-products, if not elements, of their operation. Organized gangs are also active in the big cities. These groups specialize in mugging, but they have also accounted for a significant number of deaths.
5 Indonesia – 18,963 murders per year
Indonesia is a huge archipelago with numerous islands and people with different beliefs and religions. Its generous coastline makes it an ideal vacation spot for tourists. Unfortunately, it also makes it attractive for criminals and terrorists. In 2002, terrorists attack the popular beach island of Bali, killing 202 people in the worst incident of terrorism in the country. Indonesia has also seen some religious and ethnic strife, with violence against Chinese and Christians happening in the recent past.
4 Ethiopia – 20,239 murders per year
The African country of Ethiopia faces a constant and general threat from terrorism because of the country’s involvement in the conflict in Somalia. As a result, the Somali-based Al Shabaab considers Ethiopia as a legitimate target. Kidnapping and murder of even foreign tourists have been recorded particularly in the eastern area near the country’s Somali region.
3 Mexico – 25,757 murders per year
Mexico has seen a spike in the level of violence in recent years because of the war between drug cartels. Seemingly safe spots like Acapulco and the resort of Playa del Carmen have not been spared from the criminal elements. And the gangs have been getting more cold blooded in recent years, with beheadings of rival members and police forces becoming common occurrences.
2 India – 40,752 murders per year
India has a huge population, so the murder rate per 100,000 people is not really that bad compared to other countries. Still, more than 40,000 intentional killings happened and that is a number hard to ignore. Particularly shocking is the impunity of rapists who assault women and leave them dead afterwards. A recent case of the gang rape and murder of a student ignited widespread protests for the government to finally take action.
1 Brazil – 40,974 murders per year
Brazil has a high murder rate and its roots can be traced to its level of drug use and trade. The country is part of the international drug route and has seen its own share of gang wars and killings. Criminal syndicates dominate slums in Rio de Janeiro. Numbers have been slowly improving, however, as the economy has been on the upswing. The government has also tightened up security ahead of its hosting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.