Inked or Not: Maras and Their Participation in El Salvador’s Recent Armed Conflict

In: Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies
Ximena Galvez Lima Legal and Policy Officer (Eurasia region), Geneva Call,

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El Salvador remains one of the most violent countries in the world undergoing a murder epidemic. The blatant rise in social violence is driven mainly by gangs of the Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador), which frequently clash with governmental security forces. The situation legally blurred the lines between the law enforcement and armed conflict regimes. An insufficient amount of time has been dedicated to identifying the applicable international legal framework to El Salvador’s extreme gang violence and its repression. Consequently, the country’s categorization of violence has not been addressed. For this purpose, a contextual background narration of the politics of violence in the country followed by a detailed analysis of the constituent elements of El Salvador’s urban violence were examined. The assessment of facts and their juxtaposition to international jurisprudential criteria and doctrinal contributions on conflict classification suggest the situation reached international humanitarian law’s armed conflict brink.

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