Preventing crime and violence in Mozambique

Ground-breaking research into drivers of crime

Richard Lee's picture

Author

Strategic communications for WWF

July 25th, 2012

Escalating levels of crime and violence are a serious threat to human development, democratic institutions and good governance throughout much of the world, including Mozambique.

The usual response is to focus on short-term criminal justice and law enforcement solutions but it is becoming increasingly clear that the criminal justice system alone cannot curb crime and violence – and that tackling these issues requires an integrated, long-term approach that addresses the root socio-economic causes of crime.

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Open Society Foundations Crime and Violence Prevention Initiative (OSF CVPI) are supporting violence prevention programmes in Mozambique – but they realised the need for new research to produce an accurate picture of current trends, analyse key drivers of crime and violence in the country, spark debate and provide recommendations to guide their work.

The result is a fascinating and ground-breaking new report entitled Assessment of Crime and Violence in Mozambique.

Conducted between August 2011 and March 2012, the report provides an overview of current crime and violence in Mozambique. While reliable data is hard to obtain, recent surveys indicate that rates of victimization are particularly high, while rates of reporting crime to the police are particularly low – a phenomenon that is likely linked to a lack of trust in the police services and perceived corruption.

Armed robberies are the major reported crime concern for most Mozambicans, although levels of domestic violence and child abuse are also estimated to be extremely high. Maputo City, Maputo Province, and Sofala are the provinces with the highest levels of reported crime.

The report also investigates the major drivers of crime and violence in Mozambique and includes a detailed analysis on inequality, urbanisation, corruption, organised crime, centralisation, lack of opportunities for youth, victimisation of women and children, high numbers of street dwellers, culture of violence, weak criminal justice system, prevalence of HIV/AIDS, rise in vigilantism, damaging customary practices and local beliefs, and trafficking along the coastlines and land corridors.

While none of these factors in isolation cause crime and violence, the report argues that they all contribute to the challenges faced by Mozambique – and to producing the underlying conditions to foster crime and violence.

The report also analyses some of the key challenges to crime and violence prevention in Mozambique including: a lack of opportunities for youth; the marginalized role of local government; limited research and knowledge sharing on crime and violence prevention; absence of debate on security sector reform; not prioritising parenting and early childhood development; a religious sector that is not fully engaged; and a disconnect between national policies ad local realities.

But the report is not all bleak. It also details the organisations involved in tackling crime and highlights promising prevention initiatives that are being undertaken by key stakeholders – with innovative programmes ranging from local level interventions to national government programmes.

And the report concludes with a series of recommendations – largely directed towards a community-based focus on prevention, the importance of knowledge generation, utilising Brazilian expertise, providing opportunities for marginalised youth, and engaging new sectors in the crime and violence prevention debate.

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