Like thousands of viewers and many critics worldwide, I have a new addiction: the Netflix series Narcos, depicting the building of a transnational criminal empire run from Colombia by the world’s most notorious criminal, Pablo Escobar. It is hard not to be baffled by the power and audacity wielded during the 1970s and 1980s by Escobar, played with a heavy Brazilian accent by Wagner Moura. But interested as I am by urban security studies, I am also fascinated by the series’ portrayal of Medellín, the Colombian city that was formerly the regional hub for transnational drug trafficking and Escobar’s headquarters. Read more

By José Antonio Meade Kuribreña

It is mind-blowing that in the 21st century, sexual violence is still used as a tactic of war. Every year, thousands of people become victims of this heinous practice. Ninety-eight per cent of them are women and girls who are sexually abused in a spree of revenge or terror against civilian populations embedded in an armed conflict. Added to the profound pain and trauma caused to the victims, the worst part of this reality is that most cases go unpunished. This is unacceptable and we cannot continue to bear new atrocities. Read more

From Jason Mitchell

I am a British freelance journalist who has been based in the city of Merida in the Venezuelan Andes for the past three and a half years.

On Thursday last week I was forced to leave Merida at short notice after receiving a death threat from an extortioner. The person said he was phoning on behalf of the commander of the local paramilitaries and that if I did not pay 100,000 bolivares (about $1,400 at the black market exchange rate), I would be murdered. Read more

An estimated 16 people were killed by Maoist rebels in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh on Tuesday. The threat of violent clashes generally rises when the world’s largest democracy goes to the polls and this is yet another sign that India’s security forces are not properly equipped.

The attack was seen as part of a Communist Party of India Maoist strategy to boycott the polls. The organisation has threatened to target leaders of the incumbent Congress party as well as the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party. Read more

More tragic news from the frontline of Venezuela’s crime scene: the murder in front of their five year-old daughter of Mónica Spear, a former beauty queen and soap opera star, and her British-born ex-husband at the hands of a gang of armed robbers this week.

It is doubtful that the assailants had much on their mind beyond armed robbery – which they knew could end in murder, an outcome not unusual in a Venezuela ravaged by violence. In that sense, the deaths are just more statistics in a country with one of highest murder rates in the world, up there with Honduras, El Salvador, Ivory Coast and Jamaica. Read more

By Mark DeWeaver and Ali Albazzaz (l)

The steadily worsening security situation in Iraq has led many to wonder whether the country is once again descending into anarchy. A recent New York Times article, for example, spoke of “new fears that Iraq is returning to the bloody sectarian violence that nearly tore the country apart in 2006 and 2007”.

Going by the news feed, casual and informed observers alike might well conclude this to be a plausible outcome. Yet home-grown Iraq Stock Exchange (ISX) investors – some of the most knowledgeable insiders around – don’t seem to think so. Read more

A fast track Delhi court is expected to hand down sentences on Friday to four men convicted of December’s gang rape of a trainee physiotherapist. [update: the men have been sentenced to hang]

It is a chance for the court to redeem itself after a teenager who was the most brutal of the attackers was sentenced last month to just three years in juvenile detention, a decision that sparked public outrage. Read more

A female student stands in a burnt classroom at Maiduguri Experimental School, a private nursery, primary and secondary school burnt by the Islamist group Boko Haram to keep children away from school in Maiduguri, northeastern Nigeria  May 12, 2012.Nigeria has been so repeatedly afflicted by acts of violence by sectarian groups, as well as Islamist movement Boko Haram, that pouring through news reports, it’s hard to get a handle on the situation. Which regions are worst affected? Who is responsible? And is the problem getting worse?

Helpfully, the Council on Foreign Relations has released it’s Nigeria Security Tracker, which sheds light on the problem. Read more

Auto workers’ deadly attack on managers and supervisors at a factory of India’s biggest car-maker Maruti Suzuki last week has created tremendous unease among Indian corporate executives.

The question that has vexed Indian corporate executives and many foreign investors since then is whether the trouble at Maruti can be seen as an isolated incident, reflecting difficulties unique to the Japanese-owned car plant, or whether it foreshadows something more ominous in a country where the gap between the haves and the have-nots is rapidly widening. Read more

The factory riot that has hit India’s largest carmaker, Maruti Suzuki, has seen the company’s share price take a battering. Down over 5 per cent on Monday trading, the company had already seen a fall of 8.9 per cent on Thursday.

The plant, which can produce 550,000 cars a year, has been shut since last Wednesday. But are the tragic events a sign of greater worker unrest, or an isolated problem? Read more

These first two weeks of February are normally those during which the mood in Brazil picks up ahead of carnival.

But in the booming state of Bahia, in northeastern Brazil, the situation is anything but festive as gangsters have gone on the rampage in the capital Salvador amid a strike by police. Read more

It is no secret that Venezuela is hardly the most business friendly country in the world, with a president who habitually takes pleasure in grabbing private property, while a maze of government regulations act as an added deterrent.

But a new report shows that Venezuela’s acute insecurity problem – it has one of the highest homicide rates in the world – also makes it the Latin American country where crime affects businesses the most. Read more

pakistani military attempt to curb violencePakistan’s main stock market may have given some comfort to equity investors on Monday when the main KSE-100 index rose just below one per cent on its first day of trade following the post Ramadan holidays marking the ‘Eid’ festival.

But Karachi’s investors were more anxiously watching the beginning of proceedings that the supreme court has launched to examine the underlying causes of this year’s bloody violence.  Read more

Sergio Cabral, governor of Rio de JanieroFresh off declaring victory in the battle between government forces and organized crime for control of Rio de Janiero’s favelas, state governor Sérgio Cabral (pictured) was on the road this week to drum up interest – and investment – in Brazil’s third-most populous state.

Brazil’s markets were unfazed by last month’s outbreak of violence, and Mr Cabral was likewise upbeat about the outlook for improved public safety ahead of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. Read more

You might expect that if war broke out on the streets of a country’s second-largest city, streets were littered with burning vehicles, and a thousands-strong military invasion was required to restore a semblance of order, investors could get a bit nervous.

Not so in Brazil, which has been watching in fascinated horror as security forces try to contain violence in Rio de Janeiro, but where markets are carrying on as usual. Read more