Sunday, March 06, 2005

Anti-gang vigilante justice

Last month I noted that the office of the Catholic archbishop in El Salvador had expressed a concern that "squadrons of social cleaning" were conducting vigilante executions of gang members in El Salvador. Today Reuters reports that such activities are becoming widespread in Honduras and Guatemala:

The U.S. government, an ally of Central America's leaders, said in an annual human rights report last week that vigilante groups and police forces in Honduras and Guatemala have summarily executed youths and gang members.

On the streets of Central America, rights activists say it is an open secret that rogue cops are using torture and murder to try to wipe out the gangs, known as "maras".

"Everybody here talks about the executions -- men in blue, black and gray cars shooting at kids in poor neighborhoods, kidnapping them and taking them to lonely sites where they tie their hands and shoot them in the head," Honduran activist Berta Oliva said.

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