Policing in the dark? Descriptive inference and the Colombian peace process, 2003-2010
Jule Krüger and Amelia Hoover Green
What is required in designing and implementing policies that seek to foster sustainable peace? We argue that, in order to prevent, mitigate or redress political violence, policy-makers require accurate information about violence. In particular, we discuss the importance of information on local patterns of lethal violence over space and time to the progress of peace negotiations in Colombia. We compare homicide reporting across five different data sources available for our period of interest to highlight the similarities and differences between them. Our comparisons provide evidence to the argument that violence is under-registered and unevenly reported over space and time. To correct for the visibility issue in observed violence data, we use linked records of homicide victims across our five lists of victims and multiple system estimates (MSE) of the true number of homicides by time and location, underlining the discrepancies not only between datasets but between this gold-standard estimation technique and the convenience data on which much reasoning about violence in Colombia has been based. We conclude our paper with a discussion of Colombia’s information situation going forward, outlining our concerns for a future of evidence-informed policy-making.