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 / 29 JUN 2011

News that El Salvador police may have masterminded the 2009 murder of a top DEA informant is a sign of…

ARGENTINA / 22 JAN 2019

With a worsening crisis in Venezuela, dark days in Nicaragua, an ever more fragile peace process in Colombia, new governments…

BARRIO 18 / 20 JAN 2021

Though he did not have any apparent health problems, a top MS13 leader was transferred from a prison to…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Guatemala Social Insecurity Investigation Makes Front Page News

10 DEC 2021

InSight Crime’s latest investigation into a case of corruption within Guatemala's social security agency linked to the deaths of patients with kidney disease made waves in…

THE ORGANIZATION

Venezuela El Dorado Investigation Makes Headlines

3 DEC 2021

InSight Crime's investigation into the trafficking of illegal gold in Venezuela's Amazon region generated impact on both social media and in the press. Besides being republished and mentioned by several…

THE ORGANIZATION

Gender and Investigative Techniques Focus of Workshops

26 NOV 2021

On November 23-24, InSight Crime conducted a workshop called “How to Cover Organized Crime: Investigation Techniques and A Focus on Gender.” The session convened reporters and investigators from a dozen…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Names Two New Board Members

19 NOV 2021

In recent weeks, InSight Crime added two new members to its board. Joy Olson is the former executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America…

THE ORGANIZATION

Senate Commission in Paraguay Cites InSight Crime

12 NOV 2021

InSight Crime’s reporting and investigations often reach the desks of diplomats, security officials and politicians. The latest example occurred in late October during a commission of Paraguay's Senate that tackled…