28 de Sep de 2022


Crime stats keep on climbing

PANAMA. Insecurity in Panama has reached alarming levels, considering that we have a population of only 3. 3 million.

PANAMA. Insecurity in Panama has reached alarming levels, considering that we have a population of only 3. 3 million.

Last year criminal incidents rose by 31 percent in comparison with 2007 according to an official report of the Criminal Statistics Integrated System.

This is an worrying trend considering that in bigger cities like New York the number of felonies committed has decreased over the last 17 years, while the index of crimes in Panama has increased at a fast moving pace over the last five years.

When compared with cities like Toronto, London and New York, our homicide rate is around 15 times higher.

Another interesting fact is that Mexico, which has 103.3 million inhabitants has a homicide rate of 10 per 100,000 inhabitants. Panama has a higher rate of 10.7.

Costa Rica, one of Panama´s biggest competitors for tourism, only has a rate of 7.68 which is making that country more appealing as a destination for visitors.

The report of Criminal Statistics Integrated System also pointed out 49,476 criminal offences were committed in 2008, against 47,183 in 2007.

Perhaps, one of the crimes of which the general population is most afraid is kidnapping.

In previous years only two or three people were abducted a year, but in 2008 21 people were victims of this crime.

The National Police director, Francisco Troya had said in the past that the increase in the number of crimes is due to organized crime gangs terrorizing the streets.

The presidential candidate of the Democratic Change Party, Ricando Martinelli said that the best way to combat crime is to implement preventive measures to help the youth stay away from crime and give policemen better equipment and salaries, while handing out tougher punishment to criminals.

The lawyer and civil activist Guillermo Cochez said that the security problem is the accumulation of bad leadership within the police force as well as the corruption that permeates the government including public servants and policemen.

However, Cochez believes that the new National Police director Francisco Troya has done a good job although he has only occupied the post for a few months.

The future new president should make this problem his or her top priority, before the country collapses.