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Criminality rising across Africa – report

Publish date: 27 November 2023
Issue Number: 1055
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: General

Criminality has risen across Africa, with growth in crimes such as human and arms trafficking. This, notes TimesLIVE, is according to the ENACT Organised Crime Index for Africa released on Friday. Democracies fare better than others. ‘Democracies, such as Cabo Verde, SA, Mauritius and Botswana, which are assessed to have higher resilience scores, have relatively well-established checks and balances for state accountability, and strong non-state actors and social protection mechanisms, such as an active civil society that participates in the fight against organised crime. Democracies with an established rule of law also tend to have stronger institutions and (to some extent) lower levels of corruption, as well as a generally independent judiciary and relatively effective law enforcement, which are key elements in combating organised crime,’ says the report. It adds: ‘The most pervasive criminal market in Africa was human trafficking, which scored 6.06, an increase of 0.70 points since the first iteration of the index in 2019, when it was initially measured at a continental average of 5.36. The incremental growth of this illicit market, with an average score of 5.93 in 2021, coincided with heightened levels of conflict across the continent. The consequences of conflict, including forced displacement, modern forms of slavery, forced recruitment (such as child soldiers) and disruptions in social and familial structures led to an increased vulnerability to human trafficking,’ said the report.

During the reporting period of the research, Africa faced numerous challenges, including armed conflicts, the long-term effects of the pandemic, the global ramifications of the Russia-Ukraine war, extreme climate events (including droughts and flooding), and heightened political instabilities. TimesLIVE notes political violence increased in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, where state forces were engaged in ongoing conflict with violent extremist groups. ‘Armed conflict spilt over in West Africa, reportedly fuelling criminal groups and armed bandits, who sought to expand their areas of influence. At the same time, illicit economies, such as cattle rustling and kidnapping for ransom, continued to undermine stability in the region, illustrating the growing geographic overlap between crime and conflict zones,’ says the report. These conditions created an ideal environment for criminal markets and actors to flourish and extend their influence on the continent. Between 2019 and 2023, overall criminality in Africa rose from 4.97 to 5.25, increasing by 0.20 points between 2019 and 2021 and by 0.08 points since 2021.

Africa Organised Crime Index

Full TimesLIVE report

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