miércoles, 28 de mayo de 2014

Over 17,000 murdered in El Salvador in five years

Authorities in El Salvador counted 17,335 criminal killings there in the five-year presidency of Mauricio Funes, which began on 1 June 2009, though a minister insisted these were some of the best figures of any recent national government. The Justice and Security Minister Ricardo Perdomo recalled on 27 May that homicide figures fell from a peak of 4,371 in 2011, to 2,594 in 2012 due mostly to the ceasefire between criminal gangs, to which the Funes government gave its unofficial blessing. The Minister said police counted 2,492 homicides nationwide in 2013 and 1,313 so far this year, El Salvador's El Mundo reported. The ceasefire has proved controversial and many were doubting it remained in force, for a resurge in killings in recent months, but the Minister insisted that overall all crimes were declining; "the trend has been downward...they do not want to see the figures but the reality is there," he said in his last press conference as Minister. He attributed a resurge in killings in 2013 in part at least to unspecified organised crime groups. The same daily earlier cited state coroners as reporting a daily homicide rate of 14.3 for the days 1 to 26 May, which exceeded figures for January and February 2012. But even this could be seen in a positive light. The Minister said that before March 2012, "a figure of 15 homicides was not even news. Now however...12 or 15 homicides is news." Mr Perdomo said extortions - the country's number one criminal activity - were also down, with 2,785 cases reported in 2013 compared to 3,992 in 2010. This he added was partly due to cutting mobile phone connections in prisons, whence many extortions are planned or carried out. The country's incoming President Salvador Sánchez Cerén has appointed the leftist legislator and former guerrilla fighter Benito Lara as the new Minister of Justice, from 1 June, La Prensa Gráfica reported on 22 May.