Representatives of hundreds of cities around the world call for halving violence by 2030

The Executive Committee of the Global Parliament of Mayors (GPM) will deliver an international resolution to accelerate efforts to halve violence by 2030 to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The GPM, together with Peace in Our Cities, launched this resolution in June 2020. It has been signed by more than 60 cities together with city networks representing over 1,500 cities and metropolitan areas.

GPM Mayor Marvin Rees handed-over the resolution at the UN International Day of Peace “Peace One Day”, a one-day gathering of global human rights champions to promote peace and violence reduction. The GPM and Peace in Our Cities are working with Pathfinders, a coalition of 36 national governments and 100 non-governmental partners, to accelerate action and investment in peace, justice and inclusion worldwide.

The global challenge of violence demands a global response. While national governments are key to preventing conflict, fighting crime and reducing domestic violence, cities are even more central players when it comes to preventing and reducing violence.

The resolution is the result of the first time that cities from around the world have come together to form a common position on violence prevention and reduction. Alongside the GPM and Peace In Our Cities is the European Forum for Urban Security (EFUS), the African Forum for Urban Security (AFUS), the Mayors Migration Council (MMC), Strong Cities Network (SCN) and the US Conference of Mayors (USCM).

The COVID-19 pandemic is contributing to devastating social, economic and political consequences around the world. It is also increasing the risk of organised and interpersonal violence in upper, middle and low-income settings alike. Women and children, in particular, are experiencing a greater risk of violence, especially at home and online, as are the most vulnerable, including displaced people and those living in conflict-affected areas. The threat of criminal violence is also rising, as is the spectre of social and political unrest. These challenges are faced most acutely in cities.

The resolution commits city leaders to significantly reduce all forms of lethal violence in cities, invest in evidence-based solutions, work in partnerships with national and international organisations, focus on the most vulnerable communities, empower survivors and young people, break intergenerational cycles of violence, and tackle digital extremism.


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Advances in Justice, Human Rights, and Security in Central America

Countries like El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala face enduring challenges in addressing insecurity, impunity and corruption. Policymakers need answers to determine better strategic methods of improving governance in the region.

As WOLA explains, the Central America Monitor is an ongoing project that involves collecting data on a series of qualitative and quantitative indicators in eight key areas related to security, justice and human rights.

The Monitor website offers infographics and reports that examine the measures that each country is taking to strengthen the rule of law and security.

The data collected and analysed has revealed trends and areas of concern in the region, including the following:

  • Across the region, significant advances were made in tackling corruption. However, challenges remain in updating or reforming existing legislation, and in some cases, regressive laws were adopted. The ability of the three countries to stop corruption from flourishing is an especially urgent but complicated issue amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • While transparency laws and mechanisms exist across the region, some synergies prevent public officials and institutions from reporting the information diligently. For example, some of the institutions examined, specifically the security and defence ministries, are falling short in terms of making important information about how they function available to the public. In Honduras, for example, the body responsible for reviewing financial disclosures by public officials has no way of proactively determining that the information is truthful and accurate.
  • Even though Honduras and Guatemala have adopted measures aimed, in principle, at creating an enabling environment for the exercise of protecting human rights, high levels of impunity persist for crimes involving human rights violations, killings and threats against human rights defenders. Notably, in a worrying trend, in Guatemala and Honduras, criminal law is frequently abused in an attempt to prevent or halt the work of human rights defenders. In Honduras, 141 human rights defenders were killed between 2014 and 2017.
  • Specialised legislation has been adopted to help prevent, detect and combat violence and organised crime. While general homicide rates decreased, violence and insecurity remain the primary concerns for the population. In El Salvador, nine out of 10 kidnapping cases taken on by the Attorney General’s Office were archived.
  • Justice systems across the region are understaffed and facing threats that compromise their independence. These issues compromise the ability of justice systems to investigate and prosecute crimes efficiently. For example, in 2014, in Guatemala, only 2 per cent of the complaints presented to the Attorney General’s Office ended with convictions.


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Could we reduce most types of violence by half?


Violence has long been one of the most significant global challenges for humankind. Hundreds of millions of men, women and children have been killed or affected by armed conflicts, crimes, extremisms, sexual violence and gender-based violence.

Violence corrodes our democratic institutions and undermines fundamental human rights. An increase in some kinds of collective violence is also possible during the next decade, primarily motivated by the pressures of climate change and insecurities surrounding new technologies.

Nonetheless, although it hasn’t made the headlines, the last half century has made some progress towards preventing and reducing many types of violence.

Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that this relatively recent downward trend will continue as we move further into the twenty-first century. But with targeted and financially sustainable interventions, especially in cities, levels of many types of violence may continue to decline. This, in fact, is one of the main aspirations of The world has a genuine opportunity to halve its current levels of violence by 2030. To achieve this, we have to take stock of where we’re at today and make decisions about where we want to be in the future. This is what bold initiatives such as the Pathfinders Partnership are trying to answer.

It’s important to reflect on the number of people affected by violence. Although it’s difficult to measure precisely, up to 600,000 people, including almost 100,000 women and children, die worldwide as a consequence of conflicts, crimes, extremist violence and extrajudicial circumstances. Millions more are left physically or psychologically wounded by wars, criminality, and sexual or gender-based violence. More than 40 million people are displaced by violence, including 26 million refugees. If we do not take measures to change our current course, there’s no guarantee that these trends will improve in the next decade. However, if measures are taken to reverse these trends, we could save, literally, hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in reconstruction, repairs, productivity losses and insurance claims.

The first step towards effectively reducing violence by 2030 is to develop a clear understanding of how it is distributed in time and space. Take the case of lethal violence. There is a common misconception that more people are violently killed in war zones than in countries at peace.

The second step is to determine where the violence is concentrated and who is most at risk from it. A sizeable quota of all violence (deaths, injuries and rape) is concentrated in our cities.

The third step is to recognise the risk factors that lead to different types of violence. Although violence is a multifactoral problem, some recurrent risks stand out. Social and economic inequality, for example.

Reducing violence by 50% over the next ten years will require unprecedented levels of global cooperation. But there are good reasons for optimism. For the first time, the UN and the World Bank have united behind a common framework for preventing conflicts. UN organisations like the United Nations Office on drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have committed to reducing violence. UN Women has announced a spotlight initiative to end violence against women, and UNICEF has joined forces with others to extend the reach of the INSPIRE strategies and help governments improve safety for all. Another promising initiative is the global campaign to end violence against children, which has already raised close to 38 million dollars.


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In El Salvador a law to identify members of youth gangs is being processed

A group of members of El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly is analysing a law that could that could allow for the identification of people who belong to the youth gangs Mara Salvatrucha -MS13- Barrio 18.

This would involve a blueprint for a special law to record illegal groups and terrorist organisations, their members and collaborators. This blueprint is being studied by parliament members of the Commission of Public Security and to Combat Narco-Activities.

Moreover, Congress explained that this initiative aims to identify and classify the members of youth gangs with the help of information provided by the intelligence organism of the State and police force, which allow for the disassembling and dismantling of such criminal structures.

The law would provide the State with an administrative tool to combat the country’s main security problem in a comprehensive way.

This blueprint will be presented to the authorities of the Justice and Security Cabinet and the public prosecutor, Raúl Melara, so that the object and the scope of such legislation can be known and, once approval has been given, parliament members can issue a favourable opinion so that it can be voted on in a plenary session and, as the case may be, be passed.

Once the law is passed, the legislative organ, via the members of the Commission of Public Security, will request the derogation of the proscription law for maras, youth gangs, groups, associations and organisations of a criminal nature, passed in 2010, because it is considered to be inapplicable.

The El Salvador authorities blame groups MS13, Barrio 18 and other smaller ones for the high homicide rates. It is necessary to add that, over the last five years, the figure of 103 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants has been reached, data that means that the country is one of the most violent in the world.

These criminal groups, a phenomenon considered to be a legacy of the civil war (1980-1992) and that gained emphasis with the deportation of members from the United States, have resisted all the security plans implemented by the last four administrations.

In El Salvador, about 25% of the population acknowledges having been an extortion victim of members of youth gangs.

Links of interest:


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Programmes for healthy relationships and partner violence in schools in Canada

The Canadian federal agency responsible for defending the rights of women and ensuring the application of the Status of Women Canada law. As such, this agency promotes gender equality and the total participation of women in the economic, social, cultural and political life of the country. The Status of Women Canada acts in three areas: the improvement in economic autonomy and wellbeing of women, the elimination of systematic violence against women and children and advances in women’s rights.

With this purpose, it develops and directs gender studies, promotes their application in the sphere of federal government, and sponsors research that provides a gender dimension to programme and policy agendas.

This is the case of the education information programme that the Canadian Agency of Women is putting into operation involving school practices that favour programmes for healthy relationships and the prevention of partner violence in the country’s schools. Among the specific objective concerning inclusivity, as well as the vision through gender lenses promoted by this educational programme for the country’s younger population, mainly focused on primary and secondary schools, there are the following:


  • Programmes include mixed audiences and different communities and may require specific focuses.
  • Similarly, programmes that include students with special needs, for example, meaning that the material is accessible to students with sight or hearing impairments, guarantee that all students meet all the objectives set by the programme.
  • Programmes that use the LGBTQ and alternative gender language, and propose scenarios or role-plays that demonstrate the different factors involved in violence in LGBTQ relationships, also guarantee that all students can identify with the programme and, therefore, also meet the objectives of the results.

Gender lenses

  • Programmes that have separate components for girls and boys and offer the opportunity to regroup and debate what is important for boys and girls are the most successful.
  • Similarly, programmes that have co-facilitators who are both male and female are better received by the young, as they feel better represented and have more possibilities to express themselves.
  • Although separated-by-gender programmes may be useful, a gender analysis is important in all programmes, especially with regard to the underlying causes of gender inequality, in order to address the fact that women are more likely to be mistreated, the concept of consent and the benefits of healthy and equal relationships.
  • LGBTQ students also either have to be represented, with the gender identity of facilitators or with the language and materials used, the scenarios addressed, etc.

These are the desired intrinsic objectives to be incorporated in curricular programmes in schools in Canada, promoting forums for reflection for boys and girls, as well as generating an atmosphere of integration and normalisation of social stereotypes that are now obsolete, in order to try to create a bright future for the country’s future generations with the creation of a support network during childhood.


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Are programmes that analyse security data in Los Angeles effective?

One of the current trends in terms of security is the wish to predict crime by using computer programmes that draw on data, mainly lawsuits. There are more and more police forces that are doing tests with such systems or are implementing them, but rather than the actual launching of these programmes, the most interesting aspect is assessing results and the analysis obtained by such an assessment. In this blog we have previously emphasised two experiences in France and Germany and, on this occasion, we add another from the USA.

Los Angeles Police Commission

The Los Angeles Police Department published, in March 2019, a report with a review of the application of three programmes of data-guided police action. In summer 2018, after a meeting during which some associations had revealed their concerns that these systems were generating among the general public the Board of Police Commissioners[1] of the city of Los Angeles commissioned the Office of the Inspector General [2] to study the matter and the report is the outcome of this.

The first of the programmes analysed is the so-called LASER (acronym of Los Angeles Strategic Extraction and Restoration –, and it involved two complementary actions: a system to assess and monitor chronic offenders based on scores that were reviewed periodically, and a strategy to detect hot spots where patrolling had to be prioritised.

The review of the LASER project has been quite critical, both regarding the chronic offender programme, and the locating of hot spots. It reveals problems due to the nature of assessment, discrepancies between initial objectives and those that follow with implementation, a lack of training material, differences in how the different areas execute the programme’s actions and difficulties to confirm effectiveness. And between the deficiencies of each of the two actions the most noteworthy are the lack of monitoring of people involved in the system of chronic offenders or the localising of hot spots near the very infrastructures of the police department and the time the patrols spent on these premises, being computed as patrols in these areas.

The second system analysed is Predpol, one of the most popular crime prediction programmes. It is based on historic data regarding crime and applies an algorithm to calculate the areas where a crime is most likely to be committed at a moment in time. Los Angeles police department only uses it to predict places where vehicles could be stolen or broken into, and there are 12-hour time bands. The review carried out by the inspector general’s office, was based on the patrolling implications rather than the functioning of the system of prediction and stresses that, on the one hand, results were contradictory in terms of the time dedicated to patrolling and the areas identified by the system and, on the other, that in most cases the areas of risk were only visited for less than a minute (meaning that the deterring effect was limited) and that the longest-lasting patrols were on police premises.

The latest programme used was ELUCD, a system that sent brief questionnaires to electronic devices (telephones, tablets or computers) based on where they were in the city of Los Angeles. Apart from some demographic questions (age, gender, race or address) it was asked if the person felt safe in his neighbourhood, if he trusted the police and if he / she felt secure with the police department. When the survey was commissioned a contract was not being considered, and this did not happen and the company did not provide the Police Department with the data gathered, and only sent some occasional weekly reports.

The report has had a certain impact on the US media (look at the footnotes) and, apart from detecting the difficulty to assess the effectiveness of the systems, has criticised the fact the effects of these programmes and systems on the general public have not been borne in mind, as this was one of the main criticisms that the study had brought about.

[1] This is the organ that that manages the Police Department, and is made up of five civilians and establishes polices and sets objectives. The head of the police manages daily operations and implements these policies and objectives.

[2]It is a service that supervises the functions of the city’s police department.

You can consult the report at:

Two noteworthy news items emphasised by the report:

CNN – LAPD audit reveals dangers of high-tech policing

Muckrock – Eight years in, LAPD can’t measure PredPol’s effect on crime


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Ecuador adopts strong security measures in football stadiums

As of 2019, the Ecuador football championship will be managed by Liga Pro, which consists of 16 first division clubs and 10 second B clubs, with the aim of guaranteeing safe scenarios for all those who attend matches.

Among the different aspects being reviewed by the Liga Pro, the Ecuador Football Federation(FEF), The Quito Superior Technology Institute(ISTFQ) and lawyers linked to the world of sport, are that of spreading the idea of a peaceful culture between the fans of different teams, improving infrastructures and applying laws in accordance with the crime or offence committed.

One of the first security prerequisites that they aim to abide by is that the rule of sports security states that stadiums must have the minimum norms demanded by FIFA as an obligation, obviously with the perspective of continuous improvement. For example:

  • Stadiums must have emergency doors to enter the grounds placed strategically and being wider than 1 metre, 20 centimetres.
  • If there is no pit separating the terraces from the pitch, ramps will be placed at the emergency doors leading to the pitch.
  • The stadium exit doors and all the spectator areas will open outwards. It will be impossible to lock them while there is a match.
  • The stadium will have an ambulance and first aid area in case medical assistance is required.
  • Football series A stadiums will have an exterior surrounding perimeter barrier where the first security control of the public will take place with an individual search when necessary.
  • The second control will carried out at the stadium entrance.

The organism that regulates professional football in Ecuador has already inspected 13 stadiums where the top-level tournament will take place and, reviewing the results, it helped to improve the rules of the procedure. It was done in this way because the clubs’ lack of infrastructure is one of the big constraints for security regulations.

One of the points of the area of security regulations that the FEF stresses, regarding venues where this sports is practised, is that the stadium must be a safe place for all users, for spectators, those involved in the match, officials, media representatives, workers and others, including different elements of civil security.

As far as the sport’s judiciary is concerned, a critical position is maintained regarding these measures. It is considered that, rather than applying more rigorous norms inside stadiums, those that are already established should be applied and that, moreover, awareness raising activities about proper behaviour at a sports event should be carried out. This way, the fan will be aware of the risk involved if he commits a criminal act and that he can be sanctioned with already existing laws.

Furthermore, there are those who consider that more security would not be necessary in stadiums to prevent violence, as this should involve beginning to change the culture and the idea of why people go to football stadiums. This way, the preventive character of the statutes and regulations must specify parameters to prevent conflict at a sports event. Within this framework, it is believed to be important that a football match must take place within the framework of an atmosphere of safety, friendship, family and collaboration, making it pleasant for fans and without generating unrest when people attend a sports event.

Meanwhile, the ISTFQ wanted to make its contribution with the defence of safety in football stadiums, promoting the diploma in Physical Safety at Sports Events, in order to train people in terms of sports-related safety.

Links of interest


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The FBI takes a positive view of the anti-sexual assault kit

Efforts to address the implementation of anti-sexual assault kits across the country have meant that dozens of thousands of kits have been tested in recent years. The laboratory of the FBI alone tested over 3,600 kits in four years with the collaboration of state and local agencies.

The work done to inventory and test the test equipment is part of the story. The other part is what has been discovered about the serial nature of many sexual criminals, as thousands of cases are added to the ADN and national crime FBI databases.

The sexual assault kits are created when a victim informs the authorities of an assault and allows an appropriately skilled nurse or doctor to gather physical evidence from her body and clothes.

These kits can end up in laboratories without proof or not presented as proof for a range of reasons, according to Angela Williamson, forensic policy consultant of Bureau for Judicial Assistance(BJA), which leads the sexual assault kit initiative.

Most jurisdictions suffer delays before the DNA profile is well developed. There are still other kits that have not been tested because of the limited application by the police force and because of laboratory resources, because the victims give up on the case, or the lack of training and understanding on the part of the personnel in charge of the police’s role.

Since 2015, the programme has inventoried 61,134 kits and has sent 44,952 tests. Of the 39,565 kits that could be tested until their outcomes, 13,521 produced a fairly high quality DNA profile that could be introduced into the forensic database of the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

When the 13,521 kits were introduced into the CODIS, 6,366 coincided with an entry that already existed. A CODIS entry is not only created when an individual or his DNA is linked to a possible crime. The FBI laboratory tested 3,610 kits and posted 1,965 entries on CODIS. In 829 of these, there was a coincidence with someone on the database or with another sample on the database.

Most victims of sexual attacks knew their attackers, but even if the victim recognises the victim, it is still worth taking and testing the DNA. A known criminal may be an unknown criminal to others.

Kentucky and other states state that people that commit sexual assault often commit more than one sexual assault; and these offenders not only assault more victims; they are often related to other violent crimes and/or crime against property.

The Kentucky study discovered that the cost for society of not trying kits is much bigger than the expense that the state would have to face to completely finance its criminal laboratory.

Another powerful instrument that supports the effort is the FBI Violent Crime Apprehension Programme (ViCAP), which can help in cases where here is no DNA or if cases are linked because of DNA, but if there is no name attached. ViCAP allows agencies to capture description of suspects, information regarding vehicles, accounts of incidents and other data that could help to connect cases.

Kentucky is a state that has volunteered to introduce the information from its sexual assault teams to ViCAP. The BJA programme now requires it from recipients of subsidies.

BJA subsidies offers financial support both for cases and investigations and for tests. Moreover, agencies all over country are adopting the need that those who are most responsible are the best informed when responding to sexual assault, how victims respond to the trauma and how to focus better on the victims during each stage of the investigation.

Experts agree that the first lesson learned is that the police should investigate each incident of sexual assault reported, thoroughly and carefully, which requires reforms that go beyond laboratory tasks and the gathering of data.


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Europol and Frontex reinforce cooperation to address cross-border crime

Europol and Frontex –The European Border and Coastguard Agency -, are intensifying their cooperation to strengthen the European space of freedom, security and justice. At a joint meeting at The Hague, the management organs of both agencies agreed to broaden the exchange of information between them to reinforce their joint fight against cross border crime and terrorism.

The improvement in cooperation has been established with a declaration of principles for such collaboration, signed by the executive directors of both agencies. The databases and crime investigations of Europol will be reinforced with the information gathered by Frontex during operational activities. Europol information will facilitate an even more efficient management of the external borders of the EU and an action based on intelligence directed at cross border criminal groups and terrorists.

In this way, Europol and Frontex will work together to provide more secure EU external borders and to implement common policies in the fight against organised crime and terrorism.

Until now, Europol and Frontex already had synergies in cases like migrant trafficking, arms trafficking, drug trafficking and terrorism. Now this joint project will broaden this area.

The collaboration will centre on identifying capacities and the complementary knowledge of Europol and Frontex, and on improving in situ cooperation. The two agencies will create a joint support operative and, if possible, they will establish common procedures.
Frontex would share information gathered at the external borders at the Europol criminal information centre. This structural exchange of information between the two agencies will improve the work of cross-border guards and provide support for investigations.

The efforts of both agencies in the fields of investigation and the development of new technology will also be strictly coordinated, for example, for the introduction of a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). Frontex and Europol also expect to have annual executive management meetings and of heads of exchange links.

Moreover, the two agencies will coordinate external activities, including contacts with external members and will share information about the main strategic developments. Frontex and Europol will work together to develop training activities and will plan to introduce personnel exchange programmes.


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What works and what doesn’t: helping the police to find the best strategy

According to what was published by the Rand corporation, the so-called focused deterrent is not new, as it was initiated by the Boston police force in the mid-90s by the pioneering Operation Cessos, which was aimed at chronic violent offenders and involved activities to help to reduce the city’s murder rate.As part of the focused deterrent, the police intervened high-risk groups and individuals in order to prevent future violence.

Key strategic steps of the focused deterrent

1Identify high-risk criminals, a process that involves community leaders and frontline police officers.
2 Have a communication meeting; explain why the intervention is taking place; and involving social services, families and members of the community.
3Provide services for those who wish to change their behaviour.
4Provide support for community members.
5 Creationof rapid and proportional sanctions for those who continue to be involved in violent crime.

In the United States there are over 18,000 police agencies. There is no database nor a sole objective source that shows what works better and how to apply it.

Bearing in mind that evidence shows that the focused deterrent is successful, why isn’t it used in more police departments?

This is when the RAND Tool Guide Better Policing is introduced. It is designed to help police agencies to find and learn about effective police strategies and apply them.

The set of tools could be a valuable resource for the police in a climate involving police strategies being more necessary than ever.

Feedback of the strategies

The set of tools specifies three very effective surveillance strategies. The first focused deterrent helps those with a high risk of participating in violence; the second, the police service aimed at problem solving, which addresses problems taking place in specific places; and the third, surveillance of legitimacy, is centred on community trust. The tool kit is also linked to a previous guide from the Department of Justice that describes the best practices to resolve homicides and other serious crimes.

The most effective police strategies in the Better Policing tool kit:

Focused deterrent
Intervene high-risk people and groups

Problem oriented policing
Address crimes in risky places

Legitimacy policy
Focus on relations with the community and elicit trust


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