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Crime in the Asia-Pacific region - statistics & facts

As a region comprised of many different countries, it is not surprising that criminal justice systems and methods of policing vary greatly across the Asia-Pacific region. The number of prisoners in Asia fluctuated across the different countries and regions. China had by far the highest number of prisoners, over three times the number imprisoned in India. In terms of incarceration rate, Thailand had the highest share of its population in prison in Asia. Index scores measuring the adherence to the rule of law show New Zealand, Australia, and Singapore to be the countries that adhere the most to the law. In contrast, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Cambodia all had much lower index scores.

Crime across the region

Many countries across the region have a history of social unrest which in some cases can appear to correlate with the level of crime. In 2020, Myanmar had a low corruption index score, which indicates a high perception of corruption. Given the country’s turbulent past including civil war, it can be inferred that socioeconomic factors may have a link with the high levels of crime. New Zealand had the highest index score in the region, indicating a low perception of corruption.

Drug abuse was also typically higher in regions that have experienced social unrest. East Asia and Southeast Asia displayed the highest number of drug users with Myanmar recording large amounts of drugs seized. Countries with more developed economies, jobs, and educational opportunities recorded lower drug abuse. Oceania had the lowest number of drug users than any other Asia-Pacific region.

Other crimes committed across the region include intentional homicide and robbery. Although the intentional homicide rate has decreased in South Asia, the rate remained higher than that in East and Southeast Asia.

Piracy has plagued the region for many years. The number of piracy and armed robbery incidents has fluctuated over the past decade. With access to several lucrative commercial trade routes, along with seas being difficult to police, pirates have sought opportunities and targeted ships known to have valuable cargo aboard. Alongside piracy, cargo theft of goods while still on land has seen a notable rise throughout the region.

The impact of COVID-19

The unprecedented outbreak of the coronavirus in December 2019 was seen to exacerbate crime, particularly hate crime, in certain countries across the region. In some cases, minority groups were blamed for the spread of the virus. This in turn induced xenophobia, racial hatred, and religious prejudice in certain areas throughout the region. There were incidences of breaches in human rights across the region, in which citizens were forced to return to work in contaminated surroundings. The impacts of COVID-19 have also led to an increase in theft around the region, especially cargo theft. Due to lockdown measures and the economic shutdown of many countries across the region, the supply chain of cargo was greatly disrupted. This resulted in a stockpile of non-essential cargo in ports and warehouses and, thus, increased the chances of cargo theft.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 28 most important statistics relating to "Crime in the Asia-Pacific region".


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