OAS and ICPC Organize a Discussion on the Role of Civil Society Crime Observatories in Mexico and Central America

On Tuesday, November 8, 2020, the Third Discussion of the Inter-American Community of Crime Observatories jointly organized by the Department of Public Security of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC) took place.

The panelists were Alfonso Domínguez (Mexico), Migdonia Ayestas (Honduras) and Carlos Mendoza (Guatemala). The presentations provided an opportunity to learn more about the creation and mandate of their respective observatories, their methods of data collection, processing and analysis, and their strategies for disseminating results.

The exchanges that followed these three presentations included discussions on the contribution of civil society observatories on violence and crime in unfavourable and difficult contexts. According to Mr. Mendoza and Ms. Ayestas, such observatories contribute to greater transparency and credibility around the construction of knowledge because they approach official data on crime with a more critical eye. This function is essential in countries where trust in state institutions is relatively low. Carlos Mendoza, coordinator of the Regional Observatory of Violence, also believes that this type of structure makes it possible to highlight problems "that governments cannot see or do not want to see".

The exchanges also addressed the challenges faced by these observatories in collecting and analyzing data on crime in the Mexican and Central American contexts. In particular, Ms. Ayestas highlighted the difficulty of obtaining official data from uncooperative public authorities and the difficulty of conducting perception and victimization surveys in some dangerous neighborhoods. Mr. Mendoza referred to the dependence of these observatories on the goodwill of governments for access to data, illustrating his point by the way recent decisions by the Guatemalan government limit transparency.

The event was organized by video conference and was broadcast live. It can be viewed in its entirety online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjNtPsK9sIA.