Protest policing in France criticized

Police handling of recent pension protests in France has drawn heavy criticism, as reported here. One expert describes the approach taken by police as “an escalation doctrine” and a human rights activist asserts “We have forgotten that the police are a public service that is there to protect the exercise of freedoms, which means protecting demonstrators. Instead, in the French version of maintaining public order, the crowds are seen as hostile, almost as enemies.” In contrast, other EU countries follow a strategy of communication and deescalation when dealing with crowds and protests.

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Police powers expanded in Chile

Chile, generally the safest country in Latin America, saw a 32% increase in homicides in 2022, attributed in part to Venezuelan gang violence. Over the last month, several police officers have been killed. In response, the government has passed new laws that “stiffen penalties for those who commit crimes against the Carabineros and grant the police privileged self-defense rights,” as reported here. Critics worry about the increased potential for police abuse of their authority, while one observer thinks “In practical terms, it’s not much of a difference … it’s symbolic.”

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Met must reinvent itself

The London Metropolitan Police recently underwent an independent review that found it to be “institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic,” as reported here. The Met Commissioner has accepted the findings though he questions whether the problems are institutional. Among the recommendations are getting rid of bad officers, stopping the recruitment of bad officers, culture change, and recommitting to policing by consent. According to the head of the UK’s Police Foundation, “My own view is that the Met is now in the last chance saloon.” The full Casey Review is here.

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Biggest art fraud in world history

In what they are calling “the biggest art fraud in world history,” police in Canada have arrested 8 suspects and seized more than 1,000 paintings, prints, and other works, all believed to be forgeries claiming to be works by the indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau, as reported here. Investigators believe the suspects produced as many as 6,500 forgeries sold for nearly $100 million since 1996 to unsuspecting customers in China, Germany, the U.S., and other countries in addition to Canada. One of the investigators noted “I’m sure there are many people who are wondering if the Morrisseau painting they have is authentic, and I know there may be some people who feel embarrassed they fell victim to these crimes.”

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Mobile DNA identifying war dead in Ukraine

There are 9 mobile DNA vans being used in Ukraine to identify war dead, as reported here, 6 provided by American philanthropist Howard G. Buffett. The mobile vans equipped with rapid DNA technology are able to complete identifications in a few hours. Without the vans, it would be taking years to make identifications, due to transportation issues and the tremendous backlog caused by thousands of war casualties. That delay would leave families in the dark and also interfere with war crimes investigations.

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Crime versus perception of crime in Malta

Crime in Malta has decreased over the last several years but the public’s perception of criminality and safety has gotten worse, according to this interview. The country’s homicide and overall crime rates are low by international standards, but its population has been increasing and diversifying. In the view of one criminologist, part of the explanation for the disconnect is that “people who wield a high level of influence – such as politicians, business leaders, etc. – simply echo popular perceptions, such as ‘the Police Force is demotivated’; or ‘the crime rate is exploding’… without actually consulting any of the available scientific data on the subject.”

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Garda strengthening international networking

The Garda commissioner recently visited the agency’s liaison officer in Bogota, Colombia as part of a networking trip to North and South America, as reported here. In Colombia, “discussions centred on the booming cocaine trade from South America to Europe.” Commenting on the involvement of organized crime groups in drug trafficking and other transnational offenses, the commissioner said “It takes a network to defeat a network.” The Garda plan to open additional liaison offices in UAE and in Southeast Asia in the next year.

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Country rankings on risk of money laundering

Global rankings of 128 countries on their efforts and capacities in 2022 to mitigate money laundering are available here. The countries rated best included Finland, Sweden, Iceland, and New Zealand. Rated worst were the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti. The U.S., Canada, and Germany ranked below 25 other countries but still in the top 25%. China was in the bottom 25% while Russia, Turkey, and Mexico ranked below the midpoint.

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2022 homicides in Latin America and the Caribbean

Three Caribbean nations appear to have had the most homicides per capita in 2022 in the combined Latin American and Caribbean region, as reported here. The leader was Turks and Caicos at 77.6 per 100,000 population, followed by Jamaica and St. Lucia. Those three would likely be joined by Haiti, but that country’s situation is so dire that murder statistics aren’t trusted. Beyond the islands, Venezuela and Honduras had the highest homicide rates, while Chile and Paraguay were lowest among the countries whose statistics are considered reliable. Chile, although still the safest country in the region at 4.6 murders per 100,000, saw a 32% increase from 2021 to 2022.

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Deteriorating situation in Haiti

Violence and protests have continued in Haiti, as reported here. In the last 18 months, 78 police officers have been killed, including 14 so far in 2023. Recently, numerous police have gone on strike, and “armed demonstrators, believed to be policemen, some in uniform and wearing balaclavas, stormed the prime minister’s residence.” Gangs have largely replaced the government as the controlling authorities in much of the country. According to one expert, “Haiti is on the brink of a wider conflict that could cost more lives, cause much suffering, and have adverse ripple effects across the region.” The country’s acting prime minister has sought intervention by the U.S., Canada, and others, but so far without success.

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