tv Combating Crime Violence in El Salvador CSPAN July 19, 2018 6:34pm-8:02pm EDT
and today we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events in washington, d.c., and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. up next, a forum on what can be done to combat crime and violence in el salvador. latin-american scholars talk about the legal activity and the entrance of el salvadorians to the u.s. >> good afternoon. hi. so welcome. i direct the dialogues rule of
law program. we are delighted today to partner for a discussion on criminal violence and traditional justice in el salvador. in recent weeks, this country has been consumed by images of undocumented immigrants being separated from their children under the administration's policy of prosecuting and detaining those who cross the border illegally. most of these hail from northern countries of el salvador, guatema guatema guatemala, and honduras. talking of the root causes to flee their home countries and make the dangerous journey to the united states. so today we're going to take a deep dive into one of those countries el salvador. el salvador has made strides since the civil war that left 75,000 people dead. it has a stable democracy with regular elections and notably it has elected governments of the
right and left including the current president, a former guerrilla leader during the civil war. despite the transition to peace and democracy, el salvador remains an extremely violent place. it is one of the highest homicide rates in the world, the highest number of gang member, and 42% suffer extortion. successful governments have tried to attack the crime and violence problem with the iron fist approach to little avail. el salvador's prisons are teeming with gang members. they're incubators of crime rather than rehabilitation centers. they have faced credible accusation and executions. impunity for both violent crime and anti-rights is high. such as a conviction last week of four police officers for
aggravated homicide. alongside these contemporary challenges, el salvador continues to wrestle with the legacy of its past. in 2016, the supreme court of the country struck down the 1993 amnesty law enacted at the conclusion of the devastating civil war. clearing the way for the first time for prosecutors to reopen cases and victims to seek justice. some have argued that these efforts distract attention and resources from present-day challenges facing the countries. others argue that impunity from past atrocities is to blame for the weak rule of law that has emerged in the post-conflict period. today we're very fortunate to benefit from three expert perspectives on the challenges facing el salvador and the broader question of how past and present efforts to strengthen the rule of law relate to one another. to my left, good friend
mileydi guilarte. she joined counterpart in 2017 after a decade in washington working for various humanitarian and diplomatic institutions at the world bank, the united nations, and most recently at the national security council and during the obama administration. leonor arteaga heads the program on impunity and grave human rights violations. she leads investigations and monitoring and analysis on issues relating to memory, truth, justice, and guarantees for nonrecurrence of past conflicts and current situations of state violence in latin america. in addition to february 2018, she was appointed by the government as commissioner for the national commission for the search for disappeared persons.
chuck call is an associate professor of international peace and conflict resolution at american university. he focuses on post-war peace building, state building, human rights, and police and justice reform. and he has conducted research in central america, west africa, the balkans, colombia, and haiti. he served in the bureau of conflict and stabilization operations. he helped to keep me in line and chuck lived in a settlement for displaced persons in el salvador for 15 months during the civil war until 1988. and he's published on the transition from war to peace. and on the creation of its police force. so we're really delighted, again, to welcome them. i'm sure this will be a terrific
conversation with three leading experts. we're going to jump right into the conversation. we'll do that for about 45 minutes and then we'll have plenty of time to take questions from what i'm sure is a very well informed audience. so with that, maybe leonor, i'll start with you. you're obviously from el salvador but now based in washington. i'm just curious as you listen to the debate we're having at the moment, again, about the root causes of migration from central america, what comes to your mind? what is this city getting right about what's happening in your country? and what are we missing in terms of the conditions that are driving migrants from el salvador to make the journey to the united states? >> well, thanks, michael. and thanks to the american dialogue for organizing this really interesting conversation.
when thinking about the causes of migration from central america, what comes to my mind is that we're looking at the potential humanitarian crisis rather than a security emergency. so the united states needs to adopt a humanitarian approach or responses to these needs of those who are fleeing for their lives and seeking protection here at the u.s. el salvadorian people as probably most of you know take all kinds of risks to come to this country and that's for a reason. when we think of el salvador, it's well known that that country is experiencing crime as comparable to wartime violence. which is causing a new way of
internal and external or international displace. this violence comes from different sources, but it's largely due to the local street gangs groups. in many middle class neighborhoods and in most poor communities, gangs impose their own rules. children and young men are often threatened or pressured to join gangs. while young women often experience a different kind of sexual assaults. extortion is widespread. small businesses, the public transportation industry, and in general poor people are the most heavily hit by this kind of
violence. family and domestic violence is also a factor in the decision to migrate for many women and children. evidence of different research shows that el salvador is one of the most dangerous places in the world for a woman -- to be a woman. the female homicide rate is amongst the highest in the world. and another part of this violence and why people is coming to this country is because many institutions despite some efforts are either weak, inefficient, or misfunded. many victims of violence often find no protection from local authority. so leaving seems to be the only solution. of course there is no magical
response to this violence and poverty. it's difficult problems require comprehensive and long-term strategy. i'm not implying that there shouldn't be any rules. right. any migration rules here as in any other country in the world. but we need to have in mind the children and families arriving at this border are human beings facing life-threatening situations. at home and during their journeys. and that they deserve our empathy and should be treated with dignity. and due to the significant role that the u.s. has played in el salvador over decades, there is at the very least a moral
obligation to shelter the ones in danger. >> great. thank you. mileydi, you've been on the ground now in el salvador i think for a year. what's your impression of what you've seen and why is the el salvadorian state struggling to come to terms with the crime and violence epidemic she's describing? >> yeah. well, first of all thank you again for the invitation and for sharing this panel with distinguished panelists. we've worked in the past, chuck. we went to el salvador a number of years ago. quite an expert and really an honor to work them closely in el salvador. it's a complex issue. i think one key thing that comes to mind is impunity and why it's been such a challenge to tackle. the epidemic of violence, you
have about 92% of crimes that go unpunished. so that really sends a message that, you know, anything can happen because no one will be punished. so that's definitely an issue that the country is trying to grapple with. you have crimes that were committed pre-war from the time of the war, crimes committed now and the issues remain the same. i think there's a light of hope, i would like to think, due to the court ruling of the supreme court finding the amnesty law unconstitutional that a lot of these cases will be looked into. there's an effort now by the attorney general's office to establish a historic crimes unit that's going to look at these cases. and counterpart on the project we do and the assistance we
provide is to really help the judges that are looking into this case. there's still quite a long way to go, but in terms of looking at a very important case, if we can set the precedence that it doesn't matter when the crime was committed, whether it was in the '80s or it's now, it's not going to be allowed. i think that sends a strong message. so impunity is definitely a factor, i would say. but it's finding -- also i would think that being highly polarized politically, it seems like every two, three years is an election period in el salvador. so it's never the right time. but when is the right time? you know, when to address security, each administration looks at it from a different perspective.
there's a lot of positive aspects to it in terms of the international community and how we're all trying to align our efforts to target key priority areas. key municipalities where crime is quite high. that's a positive aspect. then there are other measures taken in place that may not be as helpful to solving crime. so everything has to be factored in. there is no magic one whether it's migration but crime. but definitely impunity is -- it's one of the most disconcerning aspects of moving beyond that. >> great. chuck, just to stay on the kind of law enforcement side of things for a second, you had a long relationship with el salvador. you were there during the war. you were there after the war. you've been there as a policy maker and a scholar recently. one of the issues you looked at was the creation of the national civilian police.
what is your assessment today about how the pnc has evolved and how this crime and violence problem can be laid do you think at the pefeet of the police? >> thanks. it's an honor to be here with this panel and the dialogue. thanks to counterpart as well. i think it's hard to -- you know, el salvador is one of these countries which has gone -- had seen most of a transition from political crime, political violence to criminal violence and social violence. and so we have -- and there still is political violence, but it's much reduced in the scale and the social and criminal violence is much higher. it has some links with political violence. not as much as guatemala, i'd say, but it's still important. but how -- i mean, i think the story of that transition and the role of the police and the transition, most of the people in this room probably know that
the civilian police was a crucial element to the peace corps in 1992 and it was the way to get them to agree to a peace accord and to have 20% of the new police be combatants. so it was a real success story in terms of integrating former enemies, and to a large extent working alongside each other. but the most important thing in terms of the crime wave and the creation of the national police is there was a dramatic reduction in the number of people policing the country in the months after the peace agreement was signed in 1992 and 1993. already in 1993 you have homicide rates going very high and 1994, you have, ironically, two of the most successful peace processes in the world, south africa and el salvador having the highest homicide rates in the world by 1994. that is before the gangs took up the kind of power and influence they have.
part of the story is the gap of the transition between old security forces that were de- mobilized and the new ones created. that sets the stage. then you have a police force with really high marks in the mid-1990's and then experienced increasing problems and corruption and political rivalries and attempts to politicize the pnc became worse in the late 1990s. so an optimistic take on that reform effort became relatively mixed, i would say. most would consider the pnc to be the most professional in the triangle, but still has a lot of problems. i do not think pnc is at the heart of the problem. the problem is the system of impunity that exists. one word that unites the migration challenge with the impunity challenge is fear. a lot of people are fleeing el salvador because of fear, insecurity, and violence.
but not everyone. there are economic migrants, certainly. i know many who are legally and illegal in the country. you cannot discount the factor of fear and that underlies the fear of judges that make decisions and put people in jail, and put prosecutors on the job when they want to. the police do the arrests, it is happening. the gangs are going after the families of the police forces in the last few years. that is one of the issues confronting the police and the police are part of the picture but so are the prosecutor's office and the courts. there are witnesses that are fearful of coming forward largely because of gang violence, i would say. >> you are a student of impunity. do you agree with chuck about
fear and how do we get at the impunity problem? >> fear is at the heart of many people in el salvador, including public servants. this is part of their legacy. still a lot of people is thinking that they will have some kind of -- ummm, they will have to pay really high to do their job. there's a strong sense that going against the law is the better way to be protected and keep their jobs. it's the opposite of how it
should be. many judges and prosecutors, they don't want to apply the law. so, in general the amnesty law decision has made a contribution, a really significant contribution to begin discussing impunity and the legacy of the past atrocities. so there has been two years and now since it was struck down, we see that the national courts are slowly becoming the new actors against impunity. the lower courts, in small towns, for the most sensitive
cases. the archbishop romero case, the killing of the six jesuits and the two women working for them, the massacre of the others - 1,000 people killed. of these four cases making it way through the system is 18 former military members who are on trial now. the attorney general is also very timidly trying to find their voice in the
investigation. so far, the attorney general created a special unit to investigate historic crimes, which is remarkable. they need specialized offices to deal with complex crimes. this unit is a small team of enthusiastic prosecutors. it has given technical assistance. for the first time in 25 years, there's an ongoing dialog between prosecutors, victims families and civil society. beyond this legal challenge in
terms of criminal accountability, it will open new spaces for talking in public about the experiences of victims. this is a very important and very challenging in a polarized country. we don't have to miss this chance of dealing with the past and trying to use that to prevent future atrocities. >> just to add, i think it is a
pivotal moment in the history of el salvador in the way it is dealing with past crimes and as the attorney general has said before, it a pending debt that they owe salvadorians. it is early, only two years since the ruling. to see ngos and others who have continued to push for their own cases, and to come together to articulate one guidance for training when they are looking at these cases, that's pretty impressive. so about 3 months ago, the ngos got together to provide information to the attorney general. they have a lot of information that the attorney general
doesn't have. witnesses, locations - it is a small team and they are overwhelmed, over 150 cases and only 5 prosecutors. that's a lot. one of the efforts - we want this to be sustainable and that means reaching out to the other donors, the other embassies that have an interest in this case and partnering up. there are a lot of lessons to be learned from argentina, chile, even in columbia and guatemala, actually that can strengthen the work on transitional justice. >> this is great, you are jumping in the direction i had
planned to go into. which is to link the current challenges we are seeing and the legacy of the past. chuck mentioned the evolution from political violence to social violence and that's what we understand is the issue in el salvador, especially the gang generated violence that we see today. but there has been kind of a discouraging trend and i would say toward state sponsored violence and executions by the police. some cases have actually gone to trial and they has also been a few convictions of police officers. the un special rapporteur was in the country earlier this year, she found a pattern, not a policy, of excessive force and executions.
what's your perspective on this and what is the challenge and what is el salvador done to address it? >> there's a reason why you had six different special rapporteurs in a span of five months last year. it's nothing new, it's something we've seen. in terms of the recommendations that have been made by the special rapporteurs and the recommendations, they are fulfilled with the state, the attorney general's office and others, ensuring that the
things they need to do, we can get them to that point. we want to be an honest broker. to serve as a bridge. it is an ongoing process. from our vantage point, we have had the opportunity to work with the police. they don't deny it is happening but they want to move forward. the one case mentioned, there were 14 indicted for excessive use of force. we haven't seen that before. governments are reconsidering the way they view the problem. one told me there was a pre- agnes - agnes, the special
rapporteur, and post-agnes visit. so i think they know it is important. congress set out 16 conditions. one touches on the excessive use of force. it has been reported by the human rights of the state departments since 2014. it has been on everyone's radar so it's getting them to address it and comply with international human right standards. >> chuck, these themes -- accountability, impunity, institutions, i assume these are common in the post-conflict areas in which you work, you
studied peace-building all over the world. is there anything that is different about el salvador? are there lessons that they should draw from other places? are there things that el salvador has confronted that are relevant for a country like columbia emerging from an armed conflict situation and trying to implement a peace accord? >> there are certain things where el salvador is on the far end of the scale. that is the high extent to which homicide and extortion in particular reflect gang activity. that gang activity in el salvador, especially by gangs that are not linked to international drug trafficking organizations, as opposed to honduras and guatemala where you do see a link -- in el salvador, there is some link.
some has been discovered and some of it has been dismantled in past cases. the importance of the 18th street gang and ms 13 is out there on that scale. it makes it a little to different than all of the other postwar cases. having said that, that is really difficult. i want to say that one of the things you see in el salvador, and part of what we see in elections coming up -- we have a two-party system. that two-party system -- both of those parties have shown inability to address both economic challenges and security challenges and gang violence. after two terms of fmln, there is more acceptance of that. they have tried different things. they tried a truce. that did bring down homicide
rates dramatically. that is one of the ways we know that gang violence is responsible for a lot of the homicides in the country. when this government came into power, they really tried to shut down these prisons. we will make sure they can't communicate from the prisons. they said we are going to get serious about this. that elicited a war between the police and the gangs, that had the consequences of extra- judicial executions that we have been talking about. there has been a backing off of that. there is nothing that has unambiguously worked in all of this. we had a lot of prevention activity. there are lots of other ideas funding this. we saw one in el salvador. it is actually hard to get a grip on what to be successful. having said that, some of the things are generalizable.
one of the things that many of us have warned, and a lot of colombians recognized, is that ex-combatants have become demobilized and have guns. they know how to make money from guns, there will organized. they are used to people being afraid of them. if they don't have jobs it is easy to them to turn to illicit activities. especially if they have been involved in illicit activities for decades. which is the case with the farc. the possibilities that we are already seeing that many of us talked about in 2014 and 2015 of common crime and organized crime having new faces and forms of organization. all of those things are serious challenges that international actors and civil society actors
and political actors must anticipate and respond to. especially in terms of the presence of the state out in rural, remote areas. that is a crucial challenge in a place like columbia. >> leonor, on the theme of linking past and present, you wrote an article. it is a really interesting argument you make about accountability for past crimes benefiting the current battle against impunity in el salvador. would you explain what you meant by that and lay out the connection you see between the past accountability and the battle against contemporary impunity? >> dealing today with past
atrocities, it can provide society and states with transferable institutional capacities. what police and prosecutors can learn from searching for disappeared people can be applied in some way to disappearances. it restores credibility in institutions. when societies see institutions are given an effective response, they will trust
better. reaffirms the value of life and dignity of victims. of all kinds. fourth, it sends a strong message that no one is above the law and atrocities will not go unpunished. if the ones responsible for killing 1,000 can't be held responsible, who can? fifth, it breaks cycles of impunity and corruption. in some cases it is the same actors or the same behaviors from the past and are repeating
again. we see in guatemala that military officers have been charged, even those with the greatest responsibility for designing the military strategy in the war. even more importantly, several charged played key roles in the transformation of the military. the people responsible for military strategy were now part of organized crime. several were close to the president.
there needs to be more research and more criminal investigations to uncover any links. beyond people, in general now, there are similarities in ways that crimes are being committed. criminal groups now are imitating similar methods used by guerrillas and the military. the second link between past and present is the state is not protecting victims. third link is that the police
is still giving heavy handed responses instead of improving their investigation methods. there have been strong pushes since the amnesty law was struck down to not look at the past and to focus on present violence but i think there is enough evidence around the world that you can't forget what happened, things go in cycles. it is important that el
salvador deals with the past to help in the fight against impunity. she mentioned the argument that you hear that it threatens political stability in el salvador. it is elites on left and right that are threatened by digging out some of these skeletons. how do you -- what is your perception of the impacts that reopening these cases could have and why. i believe you must think it is important to press forward nonetheless. what would be your response to the argument that this is sort of too risky politically?
>> when is the right time? if it is not now, when is the right time. i think in terms of the human right -- giving them a space right now to actually work with government institutions in addressing this is huge, it is significant. your question is more, are they up to the challenge? >> are the up to the challenge and how do you confront not just the technical challenges and building these complex cases and things that happened decades ago, evidence has disappeared and memories are foggy. there's a technical challenge in terms of building the case but there's a political context in which the cases are happening and how do you reconcile those two at the same time? >> the past and the present, right? look, i think through various efforts happening, whether through the government efforts
or others, the time is now to make the investment. i meet victims -- whether it is someone who lost her son to excessive use of force, i think from a victim's perspective, the same pain and agony is there. how the government responds to these cases -- my take is that it is the right time to do it, i think the government in the eight months that they have left to the extent that we are working with them, have shown an openness to address the issue and that goes a long way. sometimes it is really hard to find an alternative dialogue -- this is the one approach -- but what else could be done. and to do that, the project has been working extensively on building dialogue sessions with
populations, specifically women and youth that are affected by the gang violence. that is 50% of the population. women and youth. when you talk about gender- based violence, all these other issues that have surfaced through dialogue sessions. how do you get to a point where policymakers are listening to them. it is either what is happening in that and what is happening at the executive level, there is very little taking place with ngos and human rights defenders that come in or just population at large to be able to get into the dialogue. through the last eight months, we've been able to have these dialogue sessions where youth have said, we are tired of being stigmatized. not everyone here is a gang member because we live in canton, it doesn't mean that we have anything to do with it. we have worked with the police in building a dialogue, a space
where the police will listen to the youth and as a result, they are creating a commission within the police, creating a work plan for the entire country that takes into account youth input. to inform policymakers and at least the time that is left of the administration to be able to make a dent in security particularly. it is creating spaces for other methods and approaches to happen rather than just one that you are constantly hearing about. >> chuck, there's an active scholarly debate about the link between transactional justice, whether prosecutions or whatever, and whether that is positively correlated with post- conflict law. harvard professor catherine segment has done research on this and has found that there
is a link between transactional justice mechanisms, ideally the combination of them and post transition human right practices and other scholars have done surveys. others have disputed those findings. at least it is a little -- it is not quite as clear. i would be interested in your perspective as an academic on the kind of state of that debate but also your perspective on el salvador in particular and the degree to which you see in the current challenge, roots in the conflict, and the way, especially the way that the transition was handled. >> yes, as someone who lived in el salvador during the war and saw people that i knew and loved being tortured and killed when i was there, in the community i lived in, i want to see accountability for those
things very much, as do most people. except for the perpetrators, perhaps. so, i think there is less evidence than most of us would like to see between transitional justice and its tools and the effects on justice system performance generally. as opposed to human rights performance in a postwar period. so i think it is hard -- so in terms of faces out there, there's not that conclusive findings between the transitional justice and performance in terms of faith in justice systems generally speaking and traditional reforms. having said that, there is a logic that leonor has laid out on a number of things. the demonstration effect, you see people who have been put behind bars and you have more faith in the justice system. a lot of reforms, institutional
reforms and other kinds of reforms that are taking place, like honduras, and guatemala with the un sponsored commission and the others, i have been doing research on for the last year, are based on that kind of demonstration effect. if you actually show that high- level cases have worked then you get people more faith in the justice system and witnesses are willing to come forward. prosecutors are willing to do their jobs and judges are more willing to actually set down the sentences that are appropriate. i think in terms of transitional justice in el salvador, the fear mongering about instability being fostered by this is way overblown. the country has been talking about differences in political differences for 20 years compared to other postwar countries. it is a country that has been
politically working with former enemies pretty well, not just the political level and the legislative assembly, in the police force and other state institutions. there's a lot of people who are getting older now. a lot of younger generation and lots of institutions including the military who want to see changes and so i think that argument is not there. what's more difficult is will this end impunity and do something about gang violence and the high level of extortion and homicides that create insecurity in the country and i think that is more of the open question. >> on that point, leonor, el salvador justice is going through a transition. there's a new attorney general coming in, more justices. there's a lot of work done on election process for the prosecutors and high court judges. this new generation of leaders in the judicial system will
have to wrestle with precisely these questions. how do you proceed on both the crimes of the past as well as the crimes present and how do you balance those things against one another. in a world of limited resources and competing priorities. can you give us an insight into how those processes are working, who the candidates are and what you expect from the folks who will be in charge of making these decisions. >> this is a critical year for judicial system in el salvador. the judicial independence in particular. a new attorney general will have to be selected at the end of the year and there is an ongoing selection process for five new members of the supreme court. four of them will be appointed
to the constitutional chamber. first, the new members of the supreme court and the new attorney general should continue the progress that their predecessors made in terms of the fight against corruption and transitional justice. this progress needs to be sustained in time and we expect that no setbacks happen. that is the first thing. the second thing is that in general the transitional justice processes or the criminal processes that we see from the past and the most emblematic cases involving
police abuses and the big corruption cases against the ex- president, are cases that need a really strong leadership. specialized robust knowledge of national and international standards. this is the kind of people that el salvador needs. really strong in knowledge and moral and of course -- all of these baby steps in terms of corruption and the fight against corruption and impunity, etc., are happening in a contest where the other two branches are given little
support. or even trying to not to let the judiciary make any progress. so there's not the collaboration that we would like to see. so in that context, it is really not expected to change dramatically, even if arena wins again or if the fmln continues. we don't know if that would change. so this context needs a very strong and independent judiciary and attorney general office to take seriously their jobs. i think that is the key. how can we get that, of course
there i would like to have the answer to that. of course, there is not one method and one formula. of course there are some important measures that need to be taken. the first one is a civil society needs to be very aware and needs to participate in every step of this process. in a very positive way. i think this is growing. five years ago or 10 years ago this process was secret. someday somebody knew that oh there's a new attorney general. most people didn't know about that and civil society groups were not engaged. that is one thing that needs to
happen. the second one is that these processes need to be very transparent and to comply with international standards. and with the international human rights organization, set up an international panel of experts that recently published a report on the current selection process of the new members of the supreme court. they set up several recommendations and they made an independent evaluation of the three candidates. that are currently running for the supreme court. i think the third thing is international community, of course the united states, and other governments and donors need to support this effort to have a very transparent process
but they also need to support the new authorities. but it needs to be a support that promotes their own autonomy and independence and that makes them -- to have the leadership that the country needs. >> perfect. mileydi, this conversation here in washington at least, happens in the context of everything is at the border. you served at usaid and the white house in the primary
administration and particularly in 2014 when there was a similar panic in washington, but at that time it was unaccompanied children coming over the border and the need to respond to the crisis of the border. what are the root causes and why so many people are fleeing. you spent time on the ground and implemented the strategy that you helped put in place, how is it going and what more could the united states be doing, what would make the strategy more effective in what you are thinking about. so we don't have this conversation about root causes. >> thanks for a very good question. it is interesting to work in washington and direct policy and then implement it on the ground. i feel very honored to see it from both sides. just because it gives you a
whole new perspective. you get the numbers, you work with different agencies here, all the different members that are reporting but to see it on the ground is a whole different dimension. i think one of the positive things that initially we proposed in the central america strategy was the conditionalities that were set by congress. that is something we should continue to do. it is not a blank check anymore, it is not -- no, you need to deliver, you need to show results. i think that makes a better government to do that. i think the salvadoran government is listening to that, as well. if you look at the strategy when it was implemented until now, there has been progress, they are not always linked to migration but many of them are. in fact, to tackle impunity, and weak governance, you have
to address the root causes of migration. that is exacting what my project is trying to do. it is not a short-term solution but it has to happen now. and that's what we are doing. one, i would highly reinforce and support the conditionalities, i think the visit by the vice president last week was excellent. i think we need more of that to be engaged, to have this dialogue with the president and high-level officials in the region but also having periodic meetings and having a dialogue to reach a solution is key. this is not the way forward. i think this would be two things, continue the engagement and continue the conditionalities. >> chuck, maybe to broaden the
question to you. what have you seen work in terms of u.s. engagement and post-conflict countries and what lessons might be applied from elsewhere to u.s. policy in el salvador. >> you know, i have done research on justice reform principally in 1990s and when i work at the state department i went back and re-engaged with central america after about a decade. i was struck by how we, the u.s. government, is doing a lot of the same things on the security and justice building side. i think the main difference is that there has been a huge boost in usaid's programming and prevention. our police assistance programs, judicial assistance programs are still very focused on institutions. i was just at a meeting, a state symposium last week where
a person from the state department, international narcotics enforcement bureau, said we basically do institutions. we have done a whole lot of supply-side for 25 years of trying to do technical assistance to improve technical capabilities of police forces and judicial forces. el salvador is one of the first places that we did actually forensics in the 1980s, in the middle of the war. where -- was created and the justice department in order to get human rights prosecutions, and that did not work. so we are still talking about the need for investigative capabilities instead of hard- line administrative policing. this is the place where all that started around the world in the state department and justice department in some ways. so all of that is a long way of saying that all of the supply- side technical stuff doesn't work very well that's the bottom line, i think.
i think one of the things we need to look at is demand, not supply. demand for justice in these countries. what can u.s. government do to foster those who are demanding justice. that means engaging more civil society, engaging more with those who are trying to push their authorities for outcomes, for accountability. and not just assuming that providing technical assistance to police that are fearful or corrupt or part of the problem or the same for judges and the same for prosecutors, that you will see any difference in outcomes. the other thing that i've been working on is the international hybrid missions of which provide technical assistance but mainly what they provide is actually a political cover for reformist minded individuals and prosecutors offices, especially to do their jobs and prosecute people and know that they can be a little bit less fearful and do their jobs if they want to do their jobs. that is a new tool that has had mixed results, some good
success in guatemala. i argue that the american university report that we just put out, evaluating the first two years of the honduran oas mission against corruption. saying that they made progress but they have encountered lot of problems and their future is in doubt, still. i think those kinds of mechanisms can be helpful. el salvador under the president considered briefly such a mission but he rejected that. i don't know that it is necessary in el salvador. some people think it would be useful. el salvador is a place where the two principal political parties have something of a nationalist tradition for some reason. so there is political obstacles there that are important in terms of thinking of that. to go back to the main message,
really looking at how to generate and foster those are looking for demand for justice. >> perfect. we have put a lot of issues on the table. this is been a great discussion. we have about 20 minutes left. let's turn to you all. we will take three at a time. and will go back to the panelist. >> please introduce yourself. >> i am seri -- and sarah hall from the resource center. i've been going to a lot of events like this, talking about impunity and corruption and for focusing on the northern triangle. i heard recently about some violence prevention work that the ambassador of el salvador was discussing at an event last week. how is that connected to -- they're doing it in schools and i wondered how that is connected to the dialogues with the police and how that will help decriminalize youth.
i know that is a big issue, too. how that sort of fits together. >> my name is sophia -- we helped implement the usaid projects. i have many questions but i will pick one. we've been talking about institutions that need institutional support and technical capacity building and we have talked about the population that needs to come from the bottom up in terms of encouraging attention to the justice sector and people and courts but i am curious about the private sector and what role they can play in all of this because interestingly enough, el salvador and columbia have a lot of issues with each other. they exchange ideas and how they prosecuted past the populations are different.
in el salvador there is a migration and a lot of people who want to voice their concerns are not there. resin columbia they are internally displaced so they have a voice. in this case they don't. i'm curious about that. and how can the private sector fit into this calculation. >> let's go one more in front. >> good afternoon my name is luis parada. i'm concerned about what is happening in el salvador. i was a combatant in the war. i am really sad to see that all the sacrifice during the war has yet to bring fruition. having a better country. have a question about, you mentioned about the different changes in -- about to take place. you mentioned the presidency, the attorney general. about to change. there a little things, we know
that the justices of the supreme court are not up for reelection so that we know that will be new people. we don't know yet whether they -- the attorney general will put himself up for reelection. i want you to comment about that and also when you mentioned in the two-party system, you seem to have left out that this is an -- a new situation el salvador where there will be a strong third- party candidate. could you address that dynamic and how it will work on shaping the attitudes and actually shaping the security of the country with a view toward impunity if the third-party candidate that is promising change, like is popular now, wins., do you want to start? >> i will take a crack at the
private sector question. to talk about human rights in general in el salvador, for some reason it has a very bad, taste -- connotation. many would say you work on human rights, he must be from the left. or if you work on human rights, you are in gangs, a very interesting perspective, who you ask. is a project, we are fairly recent and we have more contact with the private sector. and how they grapple with the different security issues, they work in communities where they need to add a good labor force but how do you do that when the communities are divided and internally what kind of partisans do you have to encourage diversity and inclusion. we have begun a process to reach out to the private sector to see how we can best have change in paradigm. it really takes a lot of work to work with someone that
obviously has a business and at the same time they want to be inclusive but internally they face their own challenges. we have heard of one case in particular where the company is very inclusive, they actually reach out, well they allow people with disabilities and lgbt, there was a person who was transsexual. but on the other side of the office they had someone who murdered their son but it is okay for them to work next to someone who murdered their son but they're not in favor of working with a transsexual person. the company decided to cancel altogether their effort to work with lgbt communities. is not just the private sector there, even when they try to do their job, but culturally, they
face challenges within the business. so it is finding the right balance, it is learning more, i think is a project, it is not to come in with all the solutions but seeking what works best for the private sector. there are challenges but they are part of the stakeholders, they are part of the equation, making a difference in every day, in the life of salvadorans. is not just looking at the private -- the executive or the government institutions but how do you bring them in because it is a new space. there is no solution right away. definitely, having the dialogue space has helped us understand the problem more. >> to comment on the private sector issue. in el salvador i think the private sector there is an
actor on different levels and in different ways. i think there are many ongoing small initiatives on the community level, the ones that are being supported by the u.s. embassy in el salvador but there are several supported by different donors. at community level, the private sector plays a key role in engaging in and trying to be part of the solution of the crime issue. and in particular, giving opportunities for ex-gang members and things like that. it is important not to forget the private sector it is part of the equation. i think it is more challenging to think the private sector and
the national level. at the national level the private sector is actually a political actor. it is always being linked to one of the main political parties. there are conversations and dialogues with the private sectors for different issues, for example the tax reform and some others. at that level, i don't think it is that easy to work with the private sectors like engaging them in the human rights agenda. at the community level, there opportunities. the current attorney general has given some signs that he would be interested in running for a second term.
he can do it. i think the most important thing is any high-level authority should not be reelected automatically. if high-level authority as attorney general or supreme court member or any of those high authorities, wants to run for a second term, and they need to go through the whole process. that is what the international standard is. it needs to be evaluated and it needs to go through the whole process as with the rest of the candidates. that's what should happen. i know this is not something that has happened in that is the right way to do things.
in general, the attorney general process in el salvador lacks rules, it is very open process where deadlines and profile and specific rule for the process are not really clear. so anything can happen. so that's important to know in the selection process. >> in honduras, actually they created a rigorous set of rules for the process for creating that in general. the candidates and they had civil society and they had participation in the whole process. they had five candidates and maybe you haven't heard but friday they tossed it out the window. and they asked the guy who never applied for it, he said i'm not sure i would make it, i'm not very good at public speaking, he just got reelected. they through the whole process out the window. a legal process out the window.
a lot of people think that is not such a bad thing because the people who were up for it would probably not have demonstrated the kind of independence that this attorney general has shown. i don't know what that says but maybe something about how honduras does things. i do want to echo what you just said in light of that. the other thing, i was meeting on monday, i was in guatemala city representing -- meeting with private sector representatives. they get in support in a different way, the need for doing something about gang violence. not about accountability for the past. but doing something about gang violence. it is really remarkable and it is an asset that should be harnessed and utilized. because four years ago we met with people, business leaders who are trying their best of their own initiative to deal with ex-gang members. and she mentioned. it is actually highly unusual
and latin america, i would say. i will say in response to your question, i think certainly the kelly who is leading in all the polls is able to run, and is able to win, then that actually opens up i think some opportunities for changing things, particularly regarding transitional justice. i think some of the sacred cows might not be so sacred under that kind of administration. that's just speculative but based on how that is. we have seen two-party systems get ripped apart and blown apart in the last decade. in columbia and honduras. and costa rica and mexico and -- it does open up possibilities. you are right to say that we shouldn't make assumptions about annuity in light of that.
>> let's take another round. then we will come back to the panel. >> it is a testament to the quality of the panelists that it is in the heat wave and then in the world cup you could get a full audience. >> i think it was a testament to the audience. [ laughter ] >> want to thank the panel. i'm a former salvadoran diplomat. i want to follow up. first a question for leonor. you talked about the immigrant, the migrants rather, deserving empathy and preserving dignity. i couldn't help but think that here you are preaching to the converted and that's falling on deaf ears. in terms of current administration. i don't know if you have it but i wonder if you have any
numbers in terms of asylum request and how many asylum requests have been granted as a result of violence, or fear of violence, fear of the -- >> to follow up on luis's question, let's say that -- things change. a lot of new actors are coming, if we are here on 2 july and 2019, this is pure speculation but still, would you say that in terms of fighting corruption and impunity, would you tell us that things are better, the same, or worse.
>> i am an attorney working with catholic charities, representing immigrants, including some from el salvador who are seeking asylum based on persecution of their families by the gangs. one of the issues that comes up is whether the government is unwilling or unable to protect the victims of the persecution. this was an issue that was highlighted by attorney general sessions in a recent opinion. you all touched on the question of impunity, but i would be interested in your opinion about whether in your view the government is unwilling or unable to protect victims of persecution by the gangs.
mr. camilleri: anyone else? we will go in reverse order. mr. call: i will largely punt under question. i think it will be tough. i think these issues of corruption and impunity for past violations of human rights and impunity in terms of accountability for current organized gang violence and crime are three little pools that intersect a little bit, and it is not clear, in each of them have their own dynamic. i think it is going to be tough to do something about organized crime. it will be interesting is he about their recent revelations about the prior election.
i don't have much to say on that. >> i don't know what will happen in el salvador but i would like to say that it should be better, right? it should be better. we want to see more in the attorney general office. and that it is a good agenda with impunity. i think that part of our mission in general, as a society, the international organizations, to accompany this new officers, the new magistrates, the new attorney general and if the current one
is reelected. to shape the agenda and to try to make it very clear what is important in el salvador and give them a proposal to help them. to help them on their way. the current attorney general is not an expert but at some point, open the door to discuss the property. then he welcomes ideas, how do i deal with these cases. no one in federal has done this. let's discuss and discuss with the ones who are pushing this agenda for so many years. the civil society groups, and the people from latin america.
i think that we need to continue that. for the first question, i am not an expert on migration. i don't have the numbers, there are those that have specific programs they have had some numbers but i know they are are not that many. there are some cases where they have granted asylum on those grounds. i don't know if we can say that in general, el salvador is not willing or able to protect victims of. think there is a context and not in favor of that. it is case-by-case. it is true that many victims don't find the proper answers.
sometimes they do it and some of them do not. >> i would add about impunity. they may not have -- what i think this attorney general has been able to do for the most part, other cases where i personally think i could've done better but it is not up to me. that incense in terms of corruption and impunity, it is taken very seriously. without having the bodies, not the work of the civil societies, and getting the government to react to corruption. it is something that hasn't been seen i was in the last five years.
i remember working in el salvador for a while, but i was living there last year and early on, i would say why are we doing -- how can we get them to do more. and she said this is because it happened winds. it happen for a very long time. trying to get them to react to impunity and being involved. yes, we wish things would happen a lot faster. it has been going on so long. it is very difficult. yes, to your question, i think we are better off the country is better off. i am not a lawyer either, a lot of the issues that we look at into the top of the dashboard addressing the root cause of migration, it is probably more that could be done. and more about internal displacement. i think the government has
gradually -- they're not calling it displacement, there is another term that they use. they are getting close to acknowledging that there is internal displacement. it has been gradual. not where we wanted to be but it is being acknowledged in a different way. >> well, i have learned a lot from this conversation, i hope all of you have. thank you for joining us. thank you for all of you -- your time. >> thank you for sponsoring this with ice. we enjoyed having you all here. think you for being here. join me in thanking them.
over the next couple of days we'll cover the national governors association summer meeting in santa fe, new mexico. tomorrow governors will discuss the future of technology as well as attend workshops on workforce equity, women in leadership, opioids and new economic opportunities in the outdoors. that's tomorrow starting at 11 a.m. eastern on c-span 2. on saturday the nga meeting will focus on an international perspective on state and federal collaboration, the importance of arts and history education and preparing the future workforce live saturday
at 12:15 p.m. eastern on c-span. c-span where history unfolds daily. in 1979 c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and today we continue to bring you unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court and public policy events in washington d.c. and around the country. c-span is brought to you by your cable or satellite provider. federal and state emergency management officials testified on the 2018 hurricane season including preparedness and response efforts from a house transportation and infrastructure subcommittee, this is about one hour 50 minutes. >> committee will come to order. without objection the chair is