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Regional program for the prevention of torture and organized violence in Central America


International programme: Programa regional para la prevención de tortura y violencia organizada en Centroamérica

Partners: The Research Centre for Violence Prevention (Centro de Investigación  para la Prevención de Violencia - CIPREVI) is a new transnational research centre, which was created in 2011. The research centre works to strengthen regional and national platforms for the prevention of violence in Central America. There is collaboration between relevant organizations from five countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Two of the member organizations are 'Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de las Víctimas de la Tortura y sus Familiares' (CPTRT) and 'Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala' (ODHAG).

Countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua

Context: Central America is the most violent region in Latin America and the world. Because there are big differences between and within the five Central American countries, strategies for prevention of TOV can be learnt from cooperation. This is why DIGNITY sees the need for a regional platform, where forces can be joined and transnational experiences exchanged on security and social policies that are effective in reducing violence.

The five Central American countries with 37 million inhabitants have a regional average homicide rate of 33 per 100.000. This homicide rate varies from 11 per 100.000 in Costa Rica to 77 per 100.000 in Honduras. The countries also vary greatly in human development and income levels.

But the five countries also do have a lot in common: High levels of criminal activities, organized violent crime and gangs. They all have weak rules of law, significant income inequality and a common history of armed conflicts. From the 1960s to the 1990s internal armed conflicts within Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua spilled over and affected Costa Rica and Honduras.

The fight against cocaine export and drug dealers in Colombia and later in Mexico has led to a relocation of the drug trafficking, so they are now to a higher degree working from the Central American region. The flow of drugs northward is complemented by a counter current with guns and assault weapons flowing into the region from the U.S. The constant presence of armed groups and gangs combined with week institutions of the states makes the region, where the regional Research Centre for Violence Prevention will be located, very insecure.

Program:
The main aim of this program is to contribute to reduce violence and to reinforce human security in the five countries in the region. A central aim is to change the paradigm - from repressive politics to prevention of violence. The Research Centre for Violence Prevention will create or strengthen platforms for knowledge exchange, seminars, workshops etc.

The program works at three levels - regional, national and local. Networks at all levels will be strengthened, and at the national and local level research will be carried out, which will lead to engagement in violence prevention programs based on the produced knowledge. There will be on-going monitoring, evaluation and advocacy work.

Intersectorial collaboration is an important element as to join forces of health, criminal justice and development. Work will be done to deal with the root causes of violence: Inequality, impunity and social exclusion.

The objectives of the regional programme created by the Research Centre for Violence Prevention:

  • Knowledge based intersectoral strategies: Potentials of health, criminal justice and development for violence prevention will be joined, developed and shared with platform participants.
  • Strategic advocacy for public policy changes: The strategies will be developed and shared with the 5 countries in the region.
  • Increasing funds for violence prevention purposes in the region: Funds will be identified and generated.

Links to articles / documents:

"Preventing violence and reinforcing human security: a rights-based framework for top-down and bottom-up action" by Finn Kjaerulf and Rodrigo Barahona.

Contacts

TORTURE IS A DRAG ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY

Torture has been called ‘the mother of all human rights violations’. As long as a country practices or tolerates torture, people will be reluctant to speak, assemble and participate in the political life. Stopping torture is the first step towards improving human rights in general.

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