HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Police Convictions Fall Short in Curbing Abuses
BRIEF

El Salvador Police Convictions Fall Short in Curbing Abuses

EL SALVADOR / 26 JUN 2018 BY VICTORIA DITTMAR EN

By sentencing four police officers involved in extrajudicial executions, authorities in El Salvador may be sending a message about their willingness to address internationally scrutinized police violence, but the root causes of the problem continue unabated.

On June 22, El Salvador’s Attorney General announced that four members of the National Civil Police (Policía Nacional Civil – PNC) were sentenced to 60 years in prison for aggravated homicide.

The convictions were for crimes that occurred on February 13, 2017, in the town of San Pedro Masahuat, in the department of La Paz. Two civilians died in what the police had described as a chase and confrontation with gang members. However, the court concluded that the confrontation never happened, and that the narrative was used to cover up extrajudicial killings.

The Attorney General’s Office also stated that it will investigate the possible participation of other agents mentioned by witnesses but not yet considered in the case.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profile

In another case this year, six police officers were convicted for their participation in a death squad, and seven more are awaiting trial on charges of an alleged extrajudicial execution in 2015.

InSight Crime Analysis

The international community has been scrutinizing El Salvador due to multiple accusations of police participation in massacres and extrajudicial executions.

Several international experts from the United Nations have publicly denounced the rights violations, and just a few weeks ago CNN revealed that the United States financed an elite police unit involved in the same types of abuses.

The recent convictions of police officers for extrajudicial executions are undeniably significant, positive steps and could be a message from Salvadoran judicial authorities to the national and international public that they are indeed addressing the problem.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Human Rights

However, the effect these convictions will have on ending police violence remains to be seen, especially given that it is rooted in a standard government practice of using “mano dura,” or zero-tolerance measures to combat gangs.

In a February interview with InSight Crime, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Agnes Callamard said that the use of excessive force by security forces is facilitated by a context of impunity and by an inability to bring corruption cases to justice.

“Ultimately it is about providing good evidence, having judges that are not afraid of indicting police officers, protecting these judges [when they make] very unpopular decisions,” said Callamard.

So far, authorities in El Salvador have only prosecuted the direct actors in extrajudicial executions. But they continue to fall short when it comes to investigating higher-ranking officials also involved in abuses.

Compartir icon icon icon

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.

Related Content

ELITES AND CRIME / 30 AUG 2018

President Jimmy Morales of Guatemala has many public enemies, but there is one who costs him more sleep at night…

ELITES AND CRIME / 5 FEB 2018

A commission in charge of cleaning up Honduras’ police is fighting to clear its name after an explosive report by…

CACHIROS / 11 DEC 2017

A zoo full of wild beasts founded by a murderous drug trafficker; a millionaire banker who finances a drug cartel…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…