HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador to Extend 'Extraordinary' Anti-Gang Measures Until 2018
BRIEF

El Salvador to Extend 'Extraordinary' Anti-Gang Measures Until 2018

EL SALVADOR / 8 FEB 2017 BY LEONARDO GOI EN

Officials in El Salvador agreed to extend "extraordinary measures" to fight organized crime despite doubts about their effectiveness and alleged threats to citizens' rights, raising questions about the motives for the government's decision.

The Commission for Public Security and the Fight against Drug-Trafficking (Comisión de Seguridad Pública y Combate a la Narcoactividad) agreed to extend the tough anti-gang measures until 2018, after receiving the support of four political parties, including the ruling Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional - FMLN). The coalition will provide the amount of votes necessary for Congress to approve the policy's extension during a plenary meeting scheduled for February 9.

The extraordinary measures were first instituted in April 2016 and implemented in some of the country's penitentiaries in an effort to cut contact between imprisoned gang members and the outside world. The policies, whose second phase of implementation began in August 2016, include provisions for the transfer of dangerous inmates to more restrictive jail conditions, the suspension of inmates' transfers to legal proceedings, stricter restrictions on visits, obligatory participation in reeducation and work skills programs, and the blocking of electronic communication traffic inside and around prisons.

InSight Crime Analysis

Governments tend to extend their policies when they yield the expected results, or when the public strongly supports them. But as far as El Salvador's extraordinary measures are concerned, neither of the two conditions seems to hold true.

Salvadoran officials have attributed the steep decline in homicide rates to the extraordinary measures instituted to fight gang members. Yet the causal relationship between the two remains unclear, as the gangs themselves have taken credit for the drop in violence after allegedly ordering their rank-and-file members to stop killings at the end of March 2016.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

And despite the decline in violence, citizens in El Salvador seem to have little faith in the effectiveness of the heavy-handed anti-gang policies. Recent polls have shown that a great majority of them believe the measures are not producing good results. Moreover, the policy is perceived as a threat to the rights and liberties of law-abiding citizens.

Seen in this light, it is difficult to understand why Salvadoran authorities would agree to extend these controversial policies. But there is at least one possible explanation.

Earlier this year, two of the country's largest gangs, the MS13 and the Barrio 18, called for negotiations with El Salvador's government. However, authorities so far have refused to assent to public talks with the gangs, and InSight Crime believes they are unlikely to do so.

Nevertheless, government officials have previously held secret negotiations with the gangs, and it is possible that they may do so again. Thus, the extraordinary measures could potentially be used by the government as a bargaining chip that they could use to extract concessions from the gangs.

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

COVID AND CRIME / 30 NOV 2021

Leftist opposition candidate Xiomara Castro appears to have ridden a wave of outrage to become Honduras' next president, beating out…

BRAZIL / 31 DEC 2021

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

BARRIO 18 / 1 MAR 2022

Fired prison employees in El Salvador have claimed they witnessed negotiations among government officials and imprisoned gang leaders, adding weight…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…