Due to absence of justice, economic deterioration and corruptionCrime rate runs high in Yemen [Archives:2005/872/Front Page]

August 29 2005

SANA'A- Criminology is a field of study which attempts to understand the social causes of crime, the types of crimes committed, their incidence and distribution. Crime varies according to context and circumstance, but are often related to socio-economic potential, unemployment and identity. In the last half decade the crime rate in Yemen has risen significantly.

Reports recently released by the Ministry of Interior revealed that 22,575 crimes were committed in 2004, with an increase of 3895 crimes compared to 2003. Big crimes including willful killing constitute 70% of the total amount of crimes, according to the report.

Scores confirm that crime rate differ from one governorate to another, and the capital city of Sana'a tops the list of Yemeni governorates with 37% of the overall crime rate, followed by Aden with 8%. The Governorate of Ibb stood third in the list with 7%, Taiz fourth with 5% and Hajjah fifth with 4%. Raima, the newly announced governorate in the country came last in the list with a 1% crime rate.

The reports showed that the ten governorates: Ibb, Taiz, Dhamar, the Capital Secretariat, Amran, Sana'a, al-Beidha, Hajjah, Sa'ada and Hodeida witnessed the most flagrant crimes such as willful killing, car robbery and house burglary.

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The security reports state that crime rates vary from one governorate to another due to differences associated with daily life situations and population; rapid population growth leads to raising crime rates. Probably urbanization and slow economic growth create an environment of high contrasts in material wealth, high population density and widespread discontent. Population is classed among the international measures for assessing crime rate in any society.

According to the reports, crimes are usually committed in certain months and seasons, and the factor of time is relevant to raising and reducing the crime rate. The factor of time is meant for a particular period of time of the year (month/s, season/s or occasion/s). Crimes are found to be connected with occasions such as Eid which sees an increase in house robbery in main cities as numerous citizens leave their houses and travel to rural areas to spend the Eid vacation.

Many thieves center in car stations during Eids and seize the opportunity where passengers often carry luggage and large sums of money for Eid expenses.

The Ministry of Interior has never shown concern over these reports and confirmed the phenomenon is not difficult to control and overcome, adding that its current indicators have not exceeded the limit of the average crime rate in any society. It attributes the sharp rise in crime rate over the last few years to an increase in awareness of crime by the police.

Social studies researchers link the increase in crime rate over the last years to the economic deterioration and the absence of a fair and efficient judiciary to accelerate course proceedings. Prolonging case-related procedures is responsible for the increase in revenge incidents. In addition, widespread bribery and corruption in the government and judicial institutions compound the problem as not only is corruption illegal, but it impairs the ability of the state to deal with other crime.

Another factor specific to Yemen is the massive incidence of handguns, rifles and machine guns. These are traded freely, without license of restriction beyond market costs and their universal distribution must contribute to violent crime. Of course the presence of guns does not necessitate crime, but along with tribal culture, urban sprawl, unemployment, disaffection, retarded economic growth and widespread frustration they certainly have an impact.