High homicide rates, social exclusion, institutional fragility, particularly in the justice system, and the lack of educational and productive opportunities are the most visible expressions of conflict in El Salvador. In order to achieve lasting peace in El Salvador, the high levels violence need to be reduced so that a broader process of social change can be launched.
Violence and criminality undermine social cohesion and the legitimacy of public institutions which consequently leads to cycles of violence. The state replied to rising insecurity and violence exclusively with repressive measures failing to recognize and combat the underlying causes for violence. Relations between the state and society have deteriorated. It is therefore the programme’s objective to transform these relations in order to achieve a sustainable reduction of violence and insecurity. Interpeace’s programme in El Salvador involves different levels of society to explore solutions that can achieve such a transformation.
The programme works with 11 municipalities across the country with the focus of building and strengthening collaborative relationships between municipal authorities, the community, and the people at risk of getting involved in illicit activities. One of the main causes of violence is the lack of employment opportunities. As a result people turn to the illegal economy and criminal activities as a source of income. The programme therefore works with the municipalities to generate employment opportunities that present alternatives to criminal activities. This not only contributes to a reduction in criminal activities but also strengthens the legitimacy of public institutions and their role in violence prevention.
The programme also aims to transform the precarious situation that prisoners face in the Salvadoran penitentiary system. Interpeace is supporting an initiative of the Ministry of Justice and Public security called Yo Cambio (I change). This project will not only improve in the living conditions of prisoners but will also contribute to the reduction of criminal activities inside and outside of prisons.