Violence and Hardline Citizen Security in El Salvador

14 Mar 2019

The Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF) and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

Invite you to a discussion on

Violence and Hardline Citizen Security in El Salvador



Noah Bullock
Director, Cristosal Foundation

Cristian Schlick
Lawyer, Human Rights Institute Central America University (IDHUCA)

Geoff Thale
Programs Director, WOLA

Moderated by

Leonor Arteaga
Senior Program Officer, DPLF


Thursday, March 14, 2019
4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

WOLA, 1666 Connecticut Ave NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC 20009

This event will be livestreamed via @DueProcessOfLawFoundation.

Simultaneous interpretation will be provided.


Since at least 2015, El Salvador has become one of the most violent countries in the hemisphere with a murder rate not seen since the end of the country’s civil war. The government of Sánchez Cerén, ending in May 2019, launched an ambitious, multi-year plan, “Plan El Salvador Seguro,” which prioritizes prevention, community policing, and reinsertion. Yet at the same time, the Salvadoran government enacted a forceful crackdown on gangs, carrying out neighborhood raids and massive arrests that have resulted in reports of human rights abuses—including extrajudicial executions—carried out by police and military forces, burgeoning prison population, and an increasingly militarized police force, while failing to improve the security situation.

During El Salvador’s recent presidential campaign, candidates, including the elected President Nayib Bukele, favored a violence prevention approach in their plans for addressing gangs and security, which focused on providing alternative opportunities for youth who might join gangs. However, some voices claim that their plans are too narrow to address the root causes of the violence. At the same time, it is still unknown whether or not the new Attorney General Raul Melara will prioritize the investigation of police abuse and strengthen the mechanisms for protecting victims of violence.

In this panel discussion, citizen security experts and human rights defenders will discuss the current security dynamic in the country, the impact of the hardline law enforcement policies on communities across the country as well as their implications for human rights and due process and comment on the new President and Attorney General.