In March 2012, a process known as ‘la tregua’ was initiated between the Salvadorian gangs. It involved a commitment to reduce the constant confrontation and, through this, achieve a reduction in the number of homicides, which, up until that moment, was on the rise. The Catholic Church (through the pastoral work of the Chap- lain of the Armed Forces, Monsignor Fabio Colindres) is the driving force behind the process, together with members of civil society (led by ex-deputy of the FMLN, Raúl Mijango).
Much focus has been placed on the reduction in the number of homicides recorded in El Salvador between 2011 and 2012, from which it is reasonable to conclude that there has been a decrease in violent crimes related to organized criminal activity. However, closer analysis of the figures shows that these reductions have not been mirrored in all types of crimes, and other types of violent crime, such as assaults, have in fact experienced a notable rise over the past year. Consequently, despite the fall in the number of homicides, the population continues to live with a daily problem of widespread insecurity
From the peace accords onwards, and within the process of democratization, there has been a diverse array of institutions dedicated to, or involved in, the field of public security. New ones were created, some changed, and others began to intervene in the area with distinct programs. This process has had an effect on the programs, their continuity and the results achieved. The varied and complex innovations are generally linked to the issue of youth and security. There is a need for coordination, coherence and the complementarity of institutions in order to develop an adequate management of the security problem in the future.
• Police: the National Civil Police (PNC) was founded in 1992 as a consequence of the peace accords. The ministries to which the PNC has depended have varied over time according to the location of the theme of security within the ministerial structure.
• Ministry: Immediately following the peace accords, the PNC became part of the then Ministry of Interior and Public Security, with the theme being incorporated into the institution’s official title. In 1995 the Ministry of Public Security was formed, and in December 2006 the institution that is currently responsible for security policy, the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, was established.
• Defense Sector: Until the 1992 Accords, the existing police institutions and organizations were organized under the Ministry of Defense and were therefore under the auspices of the military. At the time of the creation of the new Police Force, the Armed Forces were consolidated as the only armed institution in the framework of National Defense, and as a non-deliberative institution obedient to the political authority.
• Councils and other executive bodies: In 1996, and as part of the structures that were formed within the Executive to deal with public security, the National Public Security Council (CNSP) was created. This Council was succeeded in June 2011 by the National Youth Council, and then replaced by the National Youth Institute (INJUVE) with the passing of the National Youth Law at the end of that year.
• The Office of the Public Prosecutor: The Office of the Ombudsman for Human Rights was created within the framework of the constitutional reforms in order to promote and protect the fundamental rights and liberties of El Salvador`s citizens. It forms part of the Office of the Public Prosecutor, and possesses an independent character and administrative autonomy. The institutional rearrangement of the justice sector also led to the transfer, in 1998, of the preparatory criminal investigative work to within the area of the Office of the Attorney General.
Until the end of 1991, the public security system was located within the Ministry of Defence and was composed of three bodies: the National Police, National Guard and the Policía de Hacienda. They all received a military training, and in the context of domes- tic politics during those decades, their tasks were also directed to population control.
At the end of the armed conflict, the 1992 Peace Agreement restructured the system and created the National Civil Police (PNC), which was of civilian character. It is a unique experience not only in Latin America but the world in general, since a new police force was created, incorporating proportions of those which were previously in conflict and new recruits at one time: 20% of personnel came, from the Armed Forces armed, 20% from the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), and 60% of applicants who had not participated in armed groups during the conflict.
El Salvador in “The Public Security Index”
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