HomeNewsBriefCitizens Approve of El Salvador Police Despite Alleged Abuses
BRIEF

Citizens Approve of El Salvador Police Despite Alleged Abuses

EL SALVADOR / 1 SEP 2016 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

A recent public opinion poll demonstrates generally positive perceptions of police conduct in El Salvador, even as hard-line policies against gangs have led to concerns over official misconduct and human rights abuses.

The study, conducted by the social investigation unit of Salvadoran news outlet La Prensa Gráfica, found 54 percent of Salvadorans hold a positive opinion of the country's National Civil Police (Policía Nacional Civil – PNC). In contrast, 21 percent of respondents judged the PNC's performance to be poor or very poor.

The findings -- the result of 1,200 interviews with citizens throughout the country -- are similar to La Prensa Gráfica's 2015 poll, which found 52 percent held positive opinions of the PNC while 22 percent had negative views.

The aspect of the PNC's work citizens found most positive was "continuous patrols," at 13 percent, followed by good job performance and protecting the community. Among the PNC's characteristics citizens found most negative were: corruption, delayed response to emergencies and abuse of authority.

Overall, 37 percent of respondents felt corruption within the PNC was high or very high, while 32 percent considered it to be low or very low, La Prensa Gráfica found.

When asked if they had ever received direct assistance from the PNC, 20 percent of respondents said yes. Another 16 percent, however, reported suffering some form of abuse at the hands of the PNC, including physical or verbal mistreatment. This represented a 5 percent increase over 2015.  

InSight Crime Analysis

Over the last year, El Salvador has increasingly ramped up security crackdowns in response to escalated violence and gang activity. This has included deploying elite units consisting of both police and military to target and combat criminal structures throughout the country. Earlier this year, El Salvador's Legislative Assembly reclassified the country's gangs as terrorist organizations.

However, such heightened police activity, and the militarization of internal security, have given rise to human rights concerns. A number of instances have arisen where police are implicated in the extrajudicial killings of suspected criminals.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles 

Nonetheless, the views of everyday Salvadorans often get lost among the frequent stories documenting police abuses in El Salvador and officers' seemingly blatant disregard for human life. A reason tough "mano dura" (iron fist) anti-crime policies have been implemented by successive administrations in El Salvador -- despite evidence suggesting their ineffectiveness over the long term -- is their popularity.

It may be images of police anti-crime operations, including the mass roundup of suspects and imprisonment of alleged gang members, assuage citizens' concerns about the precarious security situation, outweighing perceptions of police misconduct. Indeed, despite a string of cases involving police abusing their power over the past year, La Prensa Gráfica's poll found positive perceptions of police increased during that period. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EL SALVADOR / 1 JUL 2021

Multiple sources from the United States and El Salvador say the recent decision to temporarily halt the extradition of several…

HAITI / 26 MAR 2021

Officials in Haiti are calling on authorities to break up a group of disaffected, violent police officers that has in…

BRAZIL / 31 DEC 2021

Prediction of the criminal dynamics for 2022 is even harder than most years, as it involves predicting the march of…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Escaping Barrio 18

27 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an investigation charting the story of Desafío, a 28-year-old Barrio 18 gang member who is desperate to escape gang life. But there’s one problem: he’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

Europe Coverage Makes a Splash

20 JAN 2023

Last week, InSight Crime published an analysis of the role of Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport as an arrival hub for cocaine and methamphetamine from Mexico.  The article was picked up by…

THE ORGANIZATION

World Looks to InSight Crime for Mexico Expertise

13 JAN 2023

Our coverage of the arrest of Chapitos’ co-founder Ovidio Guzmán López in Mexico has received worldwide attention.In the UK, outlets including The Independent and BBC…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Shares Expertise with US State Department

16 DEC 2022

Last week, InSight Crime Co-founder Steven Dudley took part in the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized by the US State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, & Labor and…

THE ORGANIZATION

Immediate Response to US-Mexico Marijuana Investigation

9 DEC 2022

InSight Crime’s investigation into how the legalization of marijuana in many US states has changed Mexico’s criminal dynamics made a splash this week appearing on the front page of…