Sunday, February 08, 2015

Plan El Salvador Seguro

President Salvador Sánchez Cerén receives the new public security proposal

While this blog and other media covered the announcement that Rudy Giuliani's security consulting firm would be coming to El Salvador as an adviser on security issues, little attention has been paid to the actual work product of the National Council of Security and Coexistence (CNSCC).  This was the council drawn from various sectors of society by the government of Salvador Sánchez Cerén to develop solutions to the country's public security problems.   The CNSCC delivered its proposal to the president in mid-January.

The proposal is called "Plan El Salvador Seguro" -- "Safe El Salvador Plan."     It is a $2 billion five year plan which is comprehensive, and ambitious in scope.  The Executive Summary for the Plan can be found here.

Journalist Edgardo Ayala described some of the proposals in the plan:
Among the principal measures, the government is expected to intervene in the fifty most violent towns with educational, health and employment projects. The project planners intend to invest $500 million to create 250,000 jobs for youth. Another $250 million will be allocated to build sports, cultural and recreational facilities necessary to remove young people from the cycle of violence. 
Also, concrete proposals have been developed to approve new laws to reduce crime, such as prohibiting telephone companies from keeping accounts active on cell phones that have been stolen since most of the extortion crimes — one of the most common crimes in the country — are done with stolen cell phones.
Loren Riesenfeld at InsightCrime also summarized aspects of the CNSCC's plan:
The plan, which has not yet been released in full, would cost somewhere between $1.8 million and $2.1 billion and includes provisions to reduce youth unemployment, help victims of crimes, improve access to recreation and public spaces, and create reintegration programs for former prisoners. In all, nearly $1.5 billion would go towards crime prevention efforts, the government said. 
It also calls for $38 million in improvements in the penal system. Salvadoran prisons are chronically overcrowded, reaching a 325 percent occupancy level, according to the International Centre for Prison Studies.  
The special council, touted as an “inter-institutional effort,” is composed of members of the government and has some participation of civil society groups and multilaterals. 
 Ayala notes that the $2 billion price tag may be difficult for the country to afford:
 The estimated cost of implementing the security plan is $2 billion during a period of five years, an average of $400 million annually. This estimated amount equals 1.7% of the Gross Domestic Product of the country, and it is anticipated that 74% of the plan’s resources will be dedicated to crime prevention. 
Financing is expected to come from the General Budget of the Nation, international loans in the process of being approved by Congress, with private contributions and international cooperation.
The plan organizes its 124 action items under the categories of Prevention of Violence, Criminal Prosecution, Rehabilitation and Social Insertion,  Attention and Protection for Victims, and Strengthening Institutions.  

This is a very comprehensive plan.   With 74% of the proposed resources going to prevention, it is a marked departure from Mano Dura / Firm Hand policies of the past.    That makes it a good plan -- on paper.   Whether the government can find the financing and actually implement the plan is another thing altogether.

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