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.
Spate of 40 murders on 23 Sept marked highest daily death toll of 2017; police blamed killings on fighting between criminal gangs. Authorities reported almost 200 people killed 21-28 Sept, including three police and two military personnel. Govt announced special measures and stronger military presence in capital in response to recent wave of police killings; new measures include faster trials, isolation in high security prisons, aid for families affected. Online magazine Factum late Aug published investigation detailing activities by alleged death squads inside police, suspected of killings, sexual abuse and extortion. Religious and academic institutions 5 Sept briefed Inter American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) and officials in Mexico City on allegations of excessive use of force by security forces. One CIDH commissioner said figures on clashes between police and gangs hid “many extrajudicial killings”; govt denied. Two law enforcement operations made gains against MS-13 gang: police 7 Sept carried out Operación Tecana detaining around 100 including six police; attorney general’s offices from three Northern Triangle countries 12 Sept carried out simultaneous operations against MS-13, several hundred detained. U.S. President Trump’s 5 Sept announcement that policy deferring deportation of children of undocumented migrants will end early 2018 prompted concerns over impact on humanitarian situation.