HomeNewsBriefEl Salvador Struggles to Enforce Regulations on Private Security Firms
BRIEF

El Salvador Struggles to Enforce Regulations on Private Security Firms

EL SALVADOR / 31 OCT 2017 BY PARKER ASMANN EN

Police in El Salvador say that a legal technicality is preventing them from holding private security agencies accountable for offenses they commit, highlighting the difficulty of ensuring sufficient oversight of private security bodies in Latin America.

More than 450 private security agencies in El Salvador are operating illegally and have not renewed their authorization papers in order to continue operating, La Prensa Gráfica reported

However, a technicality in the Private Security Services Law is preventing El Salvador's National Police from exercising its role as the body charged with overseeing private security companies.

According to La Prensa Gráfica, under Salvadoran law, private security agencies can be sanctioned with fines ranging from the equivalent of two to 10 minimum wages for minor offenses, and 11 to 60 minimum wages for serious offenses. But the law does not specify if the minimum wages pertain to the commerce, service or industry sector. 

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles 

Authorities say that because of this discrepancy, not one private security agency has been sanctioned to date. 

The police recently sanctioned one private security agency for failing to report stolen or lost weapons and not keeping proper work logs, among other things. However, the company appealed the case, alleging that the fine was illegal because it violated the "principles of legal security" due to the "non-existence of the general regulation" of the Private Security Services Law. A judge subsequently ruled in the company's favor, according to La Prensa Gráfica. 

El Salvador Attorney General Douglas Meléndez has since called for reforms to the Private Security Services Law. 

InSight Crime Analysis 

The inability of the Salvadoran police to regulate private security companies is perhaps unsurprising, given the challenges the force has faced in terms of holding its own officers to account for a range of griveous abuses including extralegal detentions, torture and extrajudicial killings. Nevertheless, it is particularly concerning given recent calls by officials like Meléndez for private security services to assist the police amid a worsening security situation in the country.

Unregulated private security agencies -- which are incentivized to protect only the private interests of those paying them -- have been a source of violence elsewhere in the region, suggesting that their deepened involvement in public security functions in El Salvador may actually exacerbate rather than ameliorate the security situation. 

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Security Policy

Indeed, private security agencies in Guatemala have been accused of everything from extrajudicial killings and purchasing illegally trafficked firearms to providing weapons and ammunition to alleged gang members. Private security firms in Rio de Janeiro have also been identified as being a key source of weapons for the city's criminals.

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 / 9 MAR 2016

An El Salvador official has suggested criminalizing the payment of extortion fees by businesses, touching off a debate that cuts…

EL SALVADOR / 28 JAN 2016

El Salvador police are abandoning the National Civil Police (PNC) in record numbers amid rising confrontations with gangs and…

MEXICO / 1 DEC 2014

Last week, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto responded to a growing swell of opposition to his government with a wide-ranging…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Who Are Memo Fantasma and Sergio Roberto de Carvalho?

24 JUN 2022

Inside the criminal career of Memo Fantasma  In March 2020, InSight Crime revealed the identity and whereabouts of Memo Fantasma, a paramilitary commander and drug trafficker living in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Environmental and Academic Praise

17 JUN 2022

InSight Crime’s six-part series on the plunder of the Peruvian Amazon continues to inform the debate on environmental security in the region. Our Environmental Crimes Project Manager, María Fernanda Ramírez,…

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Series on Plunder of Peru’s Amazon Makes Headlines

10 JUN 2022

Since launching on June 2, InSight Crime’s six-part series on environmental crime in Peru’s Amazon has been well-received. Detailing the shocking impunity enjoyed by those plundering the rainforest, the investigation…

THE ORGANIZATION

Duarte’s Death Makes Waves

3 JUN 2022

The announcement of the death of Gentil Duarte, one of the top dissident commanders of the defunct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), continues to reverberate in Venezuela and Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Cattle Trafficking Acclaim, Investigation into Peru’s Amazon 

27 MAY 2022

On May 18, InSight Crime launched its most recent investigation into cattle trafficking between Central America and Mexico. It showed precisely how beef, illicitly produced in Honduras, Guatemala…