HomeNewsBriefHomicides Down in El Salvador, But Govt Measures Not the Only Reason
BRIEF

Homicides Down in El Salvador, But Govt Measures Not the Only Reason

BARRIO 18 / 3 MAR 2017 BY LEONARDO GOI EN

Official data shows homicides have decreased significantly in El Salvador during the past year, but contrary to statements by the authorities, the government's extraordinary anti-gang measures are not the only reason for the steep decline.

The director of El Salvador's National Civil Police (Policia Nacional Civil – PNC), Howard Cotto, said 493 homicides were registered in January and February 2017, 65 percent less than those committed in the first two months of last year, reported El Diario de Hoy.

With an average of 8.4 killings per day, January and February 2017 homicide totals are remarkably close to the figures registered following the government-facilitated truce struck between the MS13 and Barrio 18 gangs in 2012. During the truce, homicide tallies fell to seven per day before skyrocketing again after the truce collapsed in 2014. Murders eventuallly reached an astounding 18 per day in 2015, the most violent year since the end of El Salvador's civil war in the early 1990s. 

Cotto said the recent decrease in homicides "is a result of the extraordinary security measures" implemented by the government.

El Salvador's Congress passed a package of heavy-handed measures in April 2016, in an effort to tighten restrictions on incarcerated gang members and prevent them from ordering crimes from behind bars. The measures were eventually extended in February 2017, and are expected to be implemented until 2018.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the decline in homicide rates is a significant accomplishment for Salvadoran authorities, the implementation of the anti-gang measures alone cannot account for the reduction of violence across the country.

To be sure, the heavy-handed measures appear to have had an impact. But parallel to these official policies, the MS13 and Barrio 18 leadership have allegedly instructed their members to halt killings. It's not clear to what extent this directive has been followed, but the sharp reduction in homides following the 2012 truce shows the gangs are capable of elevating or lowering the national homicide rate at will.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador News and Profiles

Furthermore, human rights abuses by state forces remain a major concern. There have been reports of Salvadoran security forces taking part in extrajudicial killings against criminal groups. At the same time, there are growing indications that death squads have spread across the country, systematically targeting suspected gang members.

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

BARRIO 18 / 8 FEB 2019

The number of imprisoned women in Guatemala has quadrupled in the past five years, influenced by an increase in police…

ELITES AND CRIME / 7 JUL 2020

Guatemalan congressmen and political operators -- two of whom face criminal charges -- are reportedly undermining the country's top court,…

ELITES AND CRIME / 10 SEP 2019

On a December morning in 2018, Javier Erazo, known as “El Huita,” took to his hammock after a horseback ride…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.