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

EL SALVADOR / 28 APR 2022

Gang members' romantic partners are often also their victims, subordinate to the whims of their companions. MS13 members have been…

BARRIO 18 / 25 APR 2021

The ideas of masculinity, discrimination and homophobia within El Salvador's gangs are at the heart of "Unforgivable," a documentary who…

EL SALVADOR / 14 JUL 2022

A turnaround in El Salvador’s position on extraditing gang members has come amid US pressure and rumblings in the criminal…

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…