Expanding the Narrow "Tough on Crime" Focus to Policies and Programs for Victims of Violence
Salvadoran Vice President Oscar Ortiz this month downplayed Amnesty International’s recent report “Home Sweet Home? Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador’s role in a deepening refugee crisis” which highlights the role the Governments of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala play in deepening the refugee crisis in the region.
The report echoes findings from the Narrative Report on Forced Displacement in El Salvador (Here in Spanish) Cristosal released earlier this year including:
- The Salvadoran State’s inability to protect citizens from violence
- The lack of policies and programs for assisting victims
- Abuse of force by authorities as a major cause of displacement
Amnesty’s report highlights Andres' story (not his real name) of torture at the hands of security forces in a seemingly desperate attempt to demonstrate control by forcing a confession of his participation in a shoot-out.
“He said the soldiers poured bottles of water into his mouth and nose, put his head in a puddle, stuffed sand into his mouth, jumped on his stomach, then kicked, punched and threatened to kill him unless he confessed.”
Vice President Ortiz responded to the report saying, “We read these reports with caution and pay a great deal of attention to each observation and assessment,” but that the problem of displacement and the consequent migration to other countries isn’t a principle problem compared to their focus on combating gang activities.
Cristosal Chief Program Officer, Celia Medrano publicly responded with warnings of the futility of any security plan that neglects a response to victims and called the government’s response “cynical and irresponsible.” Cristosal continues to assert that a security plan must place victims at the center of policies and programs.
To learn more about how Cristosal works to strengthen protections for victims of violence, check out our different programs.