Saturday, November 21, 2009

Troops take to the streets

An additional 2500 troops are out on the streets in high crime areas of El Salvador. But will they reduce violent crime? IPS looks at the issue:

So far this year, there have been 3,673 murders in this country of 5.8 million people - 494 more than in the same period in 2008, according to police statistics.

The novel aspect of the measure is that soldiers will now be allowed to carry out searches and arrest people, and to set up checkpoints on the roads - something that hadn't been seen since the 1980-1992 civil war, in which 80,000 people - most of them civilians - were killed, mainly by government troops and far-right paramilitaries.

"The armed forces will be able to search houses, frisk people, set up checkpoints, and arrest people caught red-handed," said Funes.

"Of course they will not hold onto the suspects, who will be handed over to the National Civil Police, and the armed forces will have to document each arrest, so that they do not break any laws," he added....

[M]ost people in San Salvador would appear to support the measure, to judge by reactions gathered by the media, as well as opinion polls.

According to a survey by the El Diario de Hoy newspaper, published Nov. 3, 93 percent of respondents backed the decision to put troops on the streets to fight crime. (more).

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