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 / 18 DEC 2012

Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes has refused to back a proposal from the country's gangs to repeal a hardline…

BARRIO 18 / 11 OCT 2018

The former leftist guerrilla and ex-congressman Raúl Mijango is jailed and facing 20 years in prison for extortion -- one…

EL SALVADOR / 6 JUN 2013

The US Treasury has imposed sanctions on six Salvadoran leaders of the MS-13 street gang by adding them to its…

About InSight Crime

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…

THE ORGANIZATION

Coverage of Fallen Paraguay Prosecutor Makes Headlines

20 MAY 2022

The murder of leading anti-crime prosecutor, Marcelo Pecci, while on honeymoon in Colombia, has drawn attention to the evolution of organized crime in Paraguay. While 17 people have been arrested…