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IDB to promote successful citizen security strategies

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President Moreno announces fund to facilitate regional cooperation in crime prevention and management, and to disseminate successful experiences from the hemisphere’s countries

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), today called on governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to learn from and replicate successful experiences in the prevention of crime and violence in the region, and he announced a special fund that will complement the IDB’s loans and technical assistance in the security sector.

During a presentation (in Spanish) entitled "A way out of the labyrinth: Citizen Security in Latin America and the Caribbean," Moreno said that the recent increase in crime levels is "a great paradox," because it occurred during a period when the region’s governments were consolidating their democracies, reducing poverty and strengthening their fiscal and economic performance.

Moreno pointed out that in Latin America and the Caribbean 350 people are murdered, on average, each day. He said that the region accounts for 28 percent of the all homicides recorded around the world, although it only represents 8 percent of the planet’s population.

Even though the Bank's statutes prevent it from financing many aspects of security management, the Bank can work on specific aspects such as prevention, training and strengthening of public institutions related to security. In the 15 years since its members began asking for help in security, the Bank has financed 12 programs and multiple technical cooperation in these areas. The IDB is currently developing nine new citizen security operations with a potential value of $328 million.

Moreno said that these programs have given the Bank the ability to understand and evaluate security initiatives that have produced results in countries like Colombia, Uruguay, Chile, Panama, Jamaica and Brazil.

"Some cities in our region are finding a way out of this labyrinth," Moreno said. "This should fill us with hope. And it should motivate us to learn about and apply the essential elements of successful experiences."

Although there are no one-size-fits-all formulas for reducing crime, Moreno said the IDB has identified three critical areas that are present in all successful experiences. These are good information systems, the application of integrated security management models, and international cooperation.

Moreno cited the experience of the Center for the Study and Analysis of Citizen Security in Bogotá, Colombia, as an example of how systems for collecting and analyzing information about crime helped the city to achieve sustained reductions in the level of violence. The history of Diadema, a city in São Paulo, Brazil, where the homicide rate dropped from 102 to 8 per 100,000 inhabitants in 10 years, was used to illustrate an integrated security management program that combines enforcement measures with investments in housing, educationand recreation. And a center for juvenile delinquents in Pacora, Panama, that was inspired by successful by experiences in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica, was mentioned as an example of cooperation and learning among countries in the region.

To support governments that need advice in the areas of information, integrated security management and international cooperation, the Bank has created a special fund to provide technical support grants. The funds will also be available to help design security strategies backed up by proper management, evaluation and information systems.

Moreno explained that these resources will complement but not replace the broad array of programs, loans and technical cooperation that the Bank is preparing in the area of citizen security.