This week's UN report on the situation in Central America highlighted the violence plaguing these countries and El Salvador in particular:
Lack of public security has become a central concern for Central America, affecting day-to-day life as well as national politics. The public-security crisis can largely be ascribed to prevailing social inequalities, geopolitical factors and the weakness of the judicial sectors. The measures being used to combat the crisis are for the most part repressive.
Violence in the region is widespread. For example, while the World Health Organization considers a homicide rate of more than 10 per 100,000 inhabitants per year to be an epidemic, El SalvadorÂs 2004 homicide rate is 43 per 100,000 inhabitants....
The public-security crisis requires a multi-pronged response focusing on prevention as well as suppression and interdiction. I recognize that efforts are being undertaken to implement preventive programmes directed at youth. Nonetheless, I am concerned that the suppression element of the response fuels public insecurity by accentuating the exclusion that is at its root, while leading to violations of such basic rights as the rights to due process and physical integrity. Members of youth gangs are easier to identify and target than organized crime, but it is obvious that organized crime poses a threat to Central American countries and requires urgent attention.