Thursday, December 01, 2005

El Salvador's National Assembly approves International Law Enforcement Academy

The Salvadoran National Assembly yesterday approved the agreement with the US for establishment of an International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in El Salvador. The ILEA will use US personnel to provide training of police, judges and prosecutors from around Latin America.

The establishment of the ILEA has been vigorously opposed by the opposition in El Salvador and civil society organizations. Voices on the Border sets out well the grounds for the opposition to the ILEA:

While no one argues that more training and professionalization would help the Salvadoran security forces; which since being re-formed after the war, have been plagued by accusations of corruption, arbitrary detention, and abuse; many question the ILEA as the ideal tool to accomplish that goal. Section 660 of the U.S. Foreign Aid Bill prohibits aid to foreign police forces except in democratic countries with exceptional human rights records. Although we cannot conflate todayÂ’s Salvadoran civilian police force with the militarized police of the war years, it is still safe to say that the Salvadoran police force is light years away from satisfying the conditions of the bill.

Meanwhile, Latin American social movements do not trust the United States as an appropriate purveyor of the ILEA's purported objectives of strengthening the criminal justice system with an emphasis on human rights and democratization. This mistrust is based at least as much on current events, such as the U.S. refusal to sign on to the International Criminal Court and the torture scandals of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, as its long history of supporting death squad governments in the Americas. The School of the Americas trained many of the soldiers responsible for the most notorious massacres of the Salvadoran civil war and circulates manuals with such names as "How to Keep Torture Victims Alive."

In July, I expressed my view that the ILEA is not intrinsically evil. The opposition to the ILEA reflects much more the abysmal state of the Bush administration's reputation in Latin America than it reflects any actual evidence that the ILEA (originally a Clinton administration concept) will lead to any human rights violations or loss of sovereignty in a nation where it is located.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I will never understand why governments in Latin America find the need to obtain training from the government of the USA. Latinamericans are very able to handle thier own affairs. Latinamericans need to celebrate their culture and customs, rather than look north for something better.

Anonymous said...

Such a situation. In one hand, the country is immeresed in corruption, and crime goes unchecked. So better training for the law enforcement would be a boon, coupled with a more regulated/efficient administrative branch. But I also ask myself, if the US is the answer? I really wouldn't trust the country who endorses death squads and condones torture to be the answer for the country. I'd say that before the ILEA, perhaps the goverment should've added to their budget something else besides road-building: a budget to provide our police force with adequate/functional equipment. Also, improving ANSP would've been beneficial. So I agree, that first and foremost, the country should've sought ways to mantain and develop it's sovereignity. We can't rely on international forces for crucial things such as law enforcement, and apparently I'm not alone in mistrusting US as the alternative to national improvement. But on the other hand... Crime is unchecked but can be diminished, law enforcement DOES need an improvement. So if this government is unwilling to use it's own resources to improve the mantainance of order, then I guess ILEA should be welcomed. Yet corruption, in this country, on the other hand will always go unchecked.

In my opinion, "people" should first tackle corruption to avoid wrongful administration of funds (by the current regime), and then tackle blue collar crime. Super Mano Dura and Mano Dura were just a an electoral scam from ARENA, evidently.

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