Central American gangs are responsible for brutal acts of violence, abuse of women and forced displacement of thousands. Governments must go beyond punitive measures and address the social and economic roots of gang culture, tackle extortion schemes and invest in communities.
In response to growing homicides rates and surge in deaths of police officers, legislative assembly 1-15 Nov approved special ruling and penal code reforms to increase punishments for killing and intimidation of public officials; defence ministry 1 Nov deployed over 100 soldiers in west to support fight against criminal groups. Official homicide figures showed 452 for Oct, up on 435 for Sept. Newspaper La Prensa Gráfica 17 Nov reported controversial deal between govt and MS-13 gang leaders to reduce homicides in exchange for better conditions in jails; govt officials 18 Nov denied allegations. After two-day visit to El Salvador, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein 17 Nov questioned lack of spending on violence prevention.
The northward flow of undocumented migrants fleeing economic hardship and violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America exposes thousands of vulnerable people to mass victimisation. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2017 – Third Update early warning report for European policy makers, Crisis Group urges the European Union and its member states to continue to pursue an approach grounded in supporting community violence prevention, institutional reform and poverty alleviation in the countries of origin while supporting transiting countries in managing the flow.