UNICEF says it is better that underage gang members remain free

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), through its office in Latin America, published a brief statement stating that the prison for minors related to gangs should not be part of the actual solution.

Some of the arguments cited are related to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which urges that detention by the security forces will be the last resource to be exhausted, and other non-repressive solutions must be sought.

Said speech is consistent with the position taken by various national and international entities critical of and opposed to the government in their desire to disqualify the special security measures put in place in the country in response to an increase in gang-related murders.

According to UNICEF, «detention affects their health and well-being, and evidence shows that imprisonment increases the chances that they drop out of school,» is part of what was mentioned in the statement.

The Salvadoran Congress reformed several regulations so that minors between 12 and 16 years of age who belong to gangs can receive sentences typified for those of legal age.

In El Salvador, the authorities have several cases of minors who had a long criminal history, among which were murders, extortion, and drugs.

The gangs have been using them for several years to commit crimes, including homicide, knowing that the penalties for them are less thanks to laws approved in previous administrations, which even had technical contributions from UNICEF.