Report on relationship between armed private security firms and violence in Latin American countries

Author: DCAF-UNLIREC, Published on: 8 January 2017

“Armed private security in Latin America and the Caribbean: Oversight and accountability in an evolving context”

…The growth of the armed private security industry is simultaneously a symptom, response, partial solution and a potential aggravator of the armed violence experienced in many developing countries, including the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region. Although each context is different and generalizations should be treated with caution, it is apparent that…the private security sector generally has grown across the LAC region. The purpose of this study is to present a comprehensive picture of the armed PSS in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), with a primary focus on the use and management of small arms and ammunition…Although the private security industry can potentially contribute to human security, citizen security and public order as an additional provider of security, its existence is often associated with certain problems and risks, particularly when operating in complex environments. Private security is also seen as exacerbating inequities and exacerbating social fragmentation since security becomes only available to those who can pay for it…[The] size and number of companies, as well as the level of competition in the domestic market, can affect regulation and company performance…This can potentially contribute to poorer performance from security and governance perspectives, and, in some cases, to criminal activities and armed violence…However, there are also groups that carry out illegal activities, such as “protection” rackets, or debt collectors that use violence, clandestine provision of services or paramilitary organizations. The figures [in this report] do not include those groups that operate completely outside the rule of law. Previous research efforts suggest that there may be up to 2 million PSC personnel operating illegally and/or informally…

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