CARACAS, Venezuela — Close to 14,000 people were murdered in Venezuela last year and the figure could be significantly higher, a prominent human rights group said Thursday, alluding to the rampant crime that has become a central concern of Venezuelans.
Venezuela has one of Latin America's highest murder rates and the government has stopped releasing complete annual figures, making arriving at an exact figure difficult.
In its annual report, the Provea human rights group said a total of 13,985 people were slain last year, but thousands more in this country of 28 million inhabitants were likely killed. The group accused government officials of using statistical loopholes to "hide the true dimension of the phenomenon."
The report said official homicide figures fail to included the number of "unresolved deaths," a term that means authorities have not yet determined the cause of death. Those deaths topped 4,200 in 2009.
Incomplete official statistics also leave out the number of Venezuelans killed during clashes with police, which accounted for 2,685 violent deaths, according to the report.