Intense gang warfare continues to plague El Salvador, undeterred by successive governments’ heavy-handed and militarised repression policies. More investment in holistic violence prevention strategies and economic alternatives to criminal violence are necessary if the country's chronic insecurity crisis is to be alleviated.
Debate about future of “extraordinary measures” against gangs and recommendations of UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions dominated security debate during month. Following two-week tour, UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard 5 Feb issued report noting extrajudicial killings and excessive use of force against gang members by security officers, condemning “deplorable conditions” of Salvadoran jails and calling for end to “extraordinary measures” in specific jails. Ruling party FMLN and Nationalist Republic Alliance ARENA 6 Feb expressed disagreement and defended extension of March 2016 “extraordinary measures” plan; attorney general argued it helped reduce mobile communications from inside jails by 97%. Local court 9 Feb condemned six police officers for killing alleged gang members. Responding to concerns about excessive use of force by police, govt 14 Feb launched new elite police unit Specialized Police Tactical Unit (UTEP) and disbanded Rapid Reaction Groups (GRP), previously accused of extrajudicial actions, extortion and sexual abuse. UTEP same day launched third massive operation “Operación Cuscatlán” to dismantle MS-13 gang’s finances. Special court 1 Feb issued unprecedented prison sentence against former mayor for illicit association with Barrio 18 street gang. Country preparing for legislative and local elections to be held 4 March.
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.
Un pacto de Estado por la paz en El Salvador [entre el Partido FMLN y Arena que] suponga un compromiso con los cinco ejes del Plan El Salvador Seguro [es un paso indispensable].
Reprimir y perseguir el crimen [en El Salvador] es necesario, pero tratar por igual a los supuestos criminales y al casi medio millón de personas que viven bajo su yugo puede llegar a ser contraproducente.
El sociólogo Robert King Merton calificó de "profecía autocumplida" una predicción que, una vez hecha, es en sí misma la causa de que se haga realidad.
Originally published in EFE
Originally published in The Washington Post
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.