Human Rights Organizations Dismiss Pro-Gang Allegations

Human rights organizations reject allegations that discredit and criminalize their work

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Human rights organizations said Thursday that senior officials of the Security and Legislative Assembly disqualified and attacked the organizations’ denunciation last week of alleged extrajudicial executions by El Salvador security agents in front of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

"Some officials have even said that these organizations, who are working to defend human rights, could be acting in accordance with gang logic or agendas. It has even been said that we were instrumental in giving them a response," said Arnau Baulenas, a lawyer with the Human Rights Institute of the Central American University (IDHUCA).

The human rights organizations, including IDHUCA, Cristosal, the Foundation for the Study of Law Enforcement (FESPAD), and Servicio Social Pasionista (SSPAS), refuse to allow their work to be discredited and criminalized by a disregard for objectivity. The groups affirmed that indications of extrajudicial executions have not been obtained from NGO data, but from records of the Attorney for the Defense of Human Rights (PDDH), the National Civil Police (PNC), and the Attorney General of the Republic (FGR), through access to public information.

"Ideally, these clashes should not happen; the number of victims should be lower," said Veronica Reina, a lawyer for SSPAS.

The human rights organizations also expressed concern about military rhetoric that motivates police and military aggression, considering the conditions in which police and military officers carry out their work.

"It would be irresponsible to send police into a war against gangs, because it can lead to an abuse of power—they are facing criminal groups without the appropriate capacity, institutional support, or technical equipment," Reina added.

Additionally, the groups expressed dissatisfaction with the Safe El Salvador Plan’s emphasis on repression over prevention. They maintain that this approach will result in an escalation of violence.

The organizations also criticized the Security Cabinet’s request yesterday that the Legislative Assembly toughen prison sentences. "The criminal is not thinking about the legal consequences of killing a policeman, that is proven. The over-legislation does not solve it, "said Baulenas.

Both Baulenas and Reina represented Salvadoran civil society in last week’s hearing before the IACHR, where they called out the Salvadoran state for the increase in extrajudicial execution cases. The state avoided responsibility by saying the increase is not a result of official or public policy, but a result of "personal decisions" agents can make it the moment.

IDHUCA, Cristosal, FESPAD, and SSPAS recognize the government's efforts in security policy, but also call on the State to investigate extrajudicial executions, abide by the recommendations of the IACHR and PDDH, strengthen internal auditing controls for the PNC, and improve working and emotional conditions for public security agents.


Translated from: Beltrán. M. (14 de septiembre de 2017). Organismos de DDHH rechazan tener agenda pro pandillas . Diario Digital Contrapunto. Recuperado de

Hannah Rose Nelson