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AG/RES. 2541 (XL-O/10) Regional Strategy to Promote Hemispheric Cooperation in Dealing With Criminal Gangs


June 8, 2010

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(Adopted at the fourth plenary session, held on June 8, 2010)

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,

RECALLING resolutions AG/RES. 2144 (XXXV-O/05), “Promotion of Hemispheric Cooperation in Dealing with Gangs”; AG/RES. 2247 (XXXVI-O/06), “Promotion of Hemispheric Cooperation in Dealing with Gangs Involved in Criminal Activities”; and AG/RES. 2299 (XXXVII-O/07), AG/RES. 2380 (XXXVIII-O/08), and AG/RES. 2461 (XXXIX-O/09), “Promotion of Hemispheric Cooperation in Dealing with Criminal Gangs”;

TAKING NOTE of the presentations by member states, agencies of the inter-American system, entities of the General Secretariat, and civil society organizations during the first and second special meetings dedicated to analyzing the criminal gangs phenomenon, held on January 17, 2008, and March 2, 2010, respectively;

CONSIDERING that the composition and criminal activities of gangs vary and therefore it is necessary to design and implement targeted, balanced, crosscutting, and comprehensive public policies that take into account the protection of human rights, effective and fair law enforcement, the prevention of crime and violence, rehabilitation, the reintegration of transgressors, and assistance to victims;

BEARING IN MIND the “Commitment to Public Security in the Americas,” adopted at the First Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas (MISPA I), held in Mexico in October 2008, and the Consensus of Santo Domingo on Public Security, adopted at the Second Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas (MISPA II), held in the Dominican Republic in November 2009; and

RECALLING that the General Assembly instructed the Permanent Council to establish, through the Committee on Hemispheric Security, a Working Group to Prepare a Regional Strategy to Promote Inter-American Cooperation in Dealing with Criminal Gangs, which was formally established on January 15, 2009,

RESOLVES:

1. To endorse the Regional Strategy to Promote Inter-American Cooperation in Dealing with Criminal Gangs: Suggestions and Recommendations (CP/CSH-1229/10), which forms an integral part of this resolution; and to encourage the member states to consider implementing it, where appropriate.

2. To request the General Secretariat to periodically update the appendixes to the Regional Strategy to Promote Inter-American Cooperation in Dealing with Criminal Gangs: Suggestions and Recommendations with the information elicited from the member states, permanent observers, subregional, regional, and international organizations, and civil society organizations.

3. To instruct the General Secretariat to continue supporting member states’ initiatives with respect to criminal gangs, in coordination with the competent organs, agencies, and entities of the Organization of American States (OAS).

4. To invite the member states, permanent observers, subregional, regional, and international organizations, and civil society organizations to consider offering technical and/or financial cooperation to countries afflicted by gang-related crime and violence and that request such cooperation.

5. To include the subject of Inter-American Cooperation in Dealing with Criminal Gangs in the 2010-2011 calendar of activities of the Committee on Hemispheric Security.

6. That execution of the activities envisaged in this resolution shall be subject to the availability of financial resources in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.

7. To request the Permanent Council and the General Secretariat to report to the General Assembly at its forty-first regular session on the implementation of this resolution.


 

ANNEX

REGIONAL STRATEGY TO PROMOTE
INTER-AMERICAN COOPERATION IN DEALING WITH CRIMINAL GANGS:
SUGGESTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

(Adopted at the meeting of May 13, 2010)

Mandate

Resolution AG/RES. 2461 (XXXIX-O/09), “Promotion of Hemispheric Cooperation in Dealing with Criminal Gangs,” asked the Permanent Council, through the Committee on Hemispheric Security’s Working Group to Prepare a Regional Strategy to Promote Inter-American Cooperation in Dealing with Criminal Gangs, to convene a second special meeting in order to continue analyzing the phenomenon of criminal gangs, in accordance with national and subregional priorities, at which member states, agencies of the inter-American system, and other international organizations and civil society may present their views and experiences at the national, subregional, and hemispheric levels, with a view to continuing to prepare a regional strategy to promote inter-American cooperation in dealing with criminal gangs, in accordance with resolution AG/RES. 2380 (XXXVIII-O/08).

As a result, on March 2, 2010,[1]/ the Working Group held the second special meeting to continue analyzing the phenomenon of criminal gangs, in accordance with national and subregional priorities, at which member states, agencies of the inter-American system, and other international and civil society organizations presented their views and experiences at the national, subregional, and hemispheric levels, with a view to continuing to prepare a regional strategy to promote inter-American cooperation in dealing with criminal gangs (ANNEX V).

This document was prepared by the Chair of the Working Group and the Department of Public Security of the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretariat for Multidimensional Security, taking into consideration the various contributions received from the member states, international agencies, and civil society organizations at that second special meeting.


Introduction

The phenomenon of criminal gangs is one of the ways in the different manifestations of violence take shape in some member states of the Organization. Gangs are a complex, growing, and dynamic social phenomenon, one with an array of causes that challenges states and their governments. Tackling this problem demands the cooperation, coordination, and combination of actions by the member states. Resolution AG/RES. 2541 (XL-O/10), “Regional Strategy to Promote Hemispheric Cooperation in DeaLing with Criminal Gangs” addresses OAS actions being taken in this regard.

In order to strengethen hemispheric cooperation the Committee on Hemispheric Security, with the assistance of the Department of Public Security, developed a Regional Strategy to Promote Inter-American Cooperation in Dealing with Criminal Gangs. This document seeks to assist member states in sharing lessons learned and experiences, as well as identifying technical and financial resources to implement national and regional strategies to address criminal gangs.

This Strategy recognizes that inter-American cooperation must be pursued on the following bases:

1. Full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, together with observance of the principle of state sovereignty and territorial integrity and nonintervention in internal affairs.

2. Consideration of the impact of poverty, unemployment, marginalization, educational shortcomings, and social disintegration, promoting the implementation of public policies and actions to encourage social inclusion and to reduce and eliminate those vulnerabilities.

3. The recognition that the State has the main responsibility for public security, and that its efforts must be combined with the broad and democratic participation of all sectors of society, so that the public sector, civil society, private enterprises, and the community in general can assume ownership of actions to address the gang phenomenon and to provide solutions to it.

ANNEX I includes a Directory of Agencies and Initiatives on public and private organizations that have experiences to share on these topics or related activities.

ANNEX II contains Contributions from Member States and Permanent Observers.

ANNEX III contains Contributions from International Organizations and Civil Society Organizations.

ANNEX IV includes, for information, an executive summary of the study “Definition and Classification of Gangs,” prepared by the OAS General Secretariat. This can serve as a voluntary reference point for states to coordinate their cooperation projects. Currently there is no definition or classification for this topic.

ANNEX V includes contributions from experts during the Second Special Meeting to continue analyzing the phenomenon of criminal gangs, held on March 2, 2010.

The member states consider that the information set out in this document could serve as a reference point and as a basis for the following voluntary action:

· Promoting inter-American cooperation in dealing with criminal gangs, based on the pillars of prevention, rehabilitation, and law enforcement.

· Encouraging the horizontal transfer of experiences among the member states.

· Sharing situation reports on the activities of criminal gangs and on their ties with other countries.

· Promoting the creation, within member states, of multisectoral working groups to devise measures to help deal with criminal gangs.

· Requesting the General Secretariat to periodically update Annexes I, II, and III, contained in the Regional Strategy to Promote Inter-American Cooperation in Dealing with Criminal Gangs: Suggestions and Recommendations with the information requested from member states, permanent observers, subregional, regional, and international organizations, and civil society organizations.

· Promoting coordination among donors to make optimal use of the human and financial resources earmarked for this topic.

It should be noted that the annexes to this Strategy are information documents. Annexes I, II, and III will be updated annually.

Contributions Identified

This section describes a series of contributions (projects, programs, and activities) that the member states, permanent observers, international agencies, and civil society organizations (Annexes II and III) reported to the OAS General Secretariat on the occasion of the Second Special Meeting on Criminal Gangs of the Working Group to Prepare a Regional Strategy to Promote Inter-American Cooperation in Dealing with Criminal Gangs, which took place on March 2, 2010.

Based on those contributions, below are actions, projects, and programs in prevention, rehabilitation, and law enforcement, which are being presented as a reference to member states which face the phenomenon of criminal gangs rather than as a basis to analyze the performance of their policies in this matter.


I. PREVENTION:

· Establish “Open School” programs, extending the regular timetables of schools and opening them at weekends for training exercises, sports, and cultural and recreational activities.

· Promote different sporting activities (football, boxing, others).

· Encourage the use of national and local media to transmit awareness campaigns with messages aimed at reducing violence among children and young people (videos, text messages, radio programs, etc.)

· Strengthen social networks made up of individuals, families, and agencies that work to understand and resolve problems arising from violence.

· Create, train, and strengthen the Preventive Police in dealing with youth- and violence-related topics.

· Organize painting workshops and other artistic expressions to provide children and young people with access to non-formal educational opportunities and thus occupy their free time.

· Create local centers, run by young people, for the pursuit of cultural, social, and sporting activities.

· Promote training programs and reincorporation into the working population.

· Rescue public spaces: artificial lighting in risk areas, creation of sports and recreation facilities, improved transport service to public spaces, land clean-up efforts, etc.

· Promote training and the use of police intelligence to reduce violent activities.

· Promote/provide training in police intelligence.

· Encourage regional and international cooperation to support exchanges of information and coordination among countries.


II. REHABILITATION AND SOCIAL REINCORPORATION

· Develop programs to reincorporate school drop-outs into the education system and enable them to catch up.

· Treatment and rehabilitation programs for young people addicted to drugs and psychoactive substances.

· Develop work training schemes and programs to encourage entry into the job market, and monitor those efforts.

· Promote treatment and rehabilitation programs for young people with drug addictions.

· Organize painting workshops and other artistic expressions to provide children and young people with access to non-formal educational opportunities and thus occupy their free time.

· Encourage public-private collaborative enterprises to facilitate the reincorporation of ex-gang members into the job market.

· Promote training for judges to encourage the use of non-custodial sentences.

· Promote coordinated actions between countries in deportations of young people.

· Avoid housing first-time offenders alongside recidivists in prisons and other correctional facilities.

· Encourage rehabilitation and social reincorporation in community facilities.

· Promote the creation of detention centers designed to separate first-time offenders from recidivists.

· Develop educational and technical-professional workshops.

III. LAW ENFORCEMENT

· Promote the training of judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and police officers who specialize in dealing with minors.

· Promote analyses of the impact of the media on criminal gang-generated violence.

· Promote and provide training in police intelligence for police officers.

· Create intersectoral task groups, involving civil society organizations, police forces, etc.

· Promote the use of information systems, including monitoring of crimnal gang activities.

· Create, strengthen, and provide training for police officers, judges, public defenders, and prosecutors who specialize in organized crime.

 

ANNEX I

DIRECTORY OF AGENCIES AND INITIATIVES

This directory is a first attempt at enabling those who need information on how to deal with the gang phenomenon to contact public and private organizations that have experiences to share on those topics or related activities.

Austria

Interior Ministry

www.bmi.gv.at/praevention

Brazil

National Program for Public Security and Citizenship (PRONASCI) portal.mj.gov.br/pronasci

Program to Protect Children and Adolescents at Risk of Death (PPCAAM) http://www.projetolegal.org.br

National Youth Inclusion Program (ProJovem) www.mte.gov.br/projovem/default.asp

Open School Program

www.mp.rs.gov.br/infancia

Women of Peace

www.jusbrasil.com.br

Canada

Public Safety’s National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC) www.publicsafety.gc.ca

Youth at Risk Development Program in Calgary, Alberta www.calgarybeacon.com

The Anti-Gang Services in Regina, Saskatchewan www.nccaregina.ca

National Anti-Drug Strategy

www.nationalantidrugstrategy.gc.ca

Department of Justice

www.justice.gc.ca

Ministry of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing www.cpsp.gov.sk.ca

Colombia

National Police

www.policia.gov.co

Colombian Family Welfare Institute (ICBF) www.icbf.gov.co

Ecuador

Coordinating Ministry for Internal and External Security

www.micsie.gov.ec

Spain

General Directorate of the Civil Guard and Police

www.policia.es

United States of America

USAID

www.usaid.gov

Congressional Research Service

www.crs.gov

Guatemala

Interior Ministry

www.mingob.gob.gt

Open Schools

www.escuelasabiertas.org Safe Schools

www.guatemala.gob.gt

Mexico

Secretariat of Public Security

www.ssp.gob.mx

Office of the Attorney General of the Republic

www.pgr.gob.mx

Panama

Interior Ministry

www.mingob.gob.pa

Integral Security Program

www.mingob.gob.pa/?pag=prosi

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Mission Negra

www.misionnegrahipolita.gob.ve

Mission Robinson

www.misionrobinson.me.gob.ve

Mission Ribas

www.misionribas.gov.ve

Mission Sucre

www.misionsucre.gov.ve

Systems of Children’s and Young People’s Orchestras and Choirs

www.fesnojiv.gob.ve

 

International and Private Organizations

World Bank web.worldbank.org

International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC) www.crime-prevention-intl.org

Center for Violence Prevention & Community Safety, Arizona State University www.cvpcs.asu.edu

Creative Associates International Inc. (CAII) www.caii-dc.com

OAS General Secretariat, Department of Public Security www.oas.org/DPS

Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN) www.iin.oea.org

Identity Inc. www.identity.ws

INTERPOL www.interpol.int/Public/Icpo/srb/sansalvadorES.asp

ITAM Mexico www.itam.mx

Organization of American States (OAS) www.oas.org

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) www.paho.org

Small Arms Survey (SAS) www.smallarmssurvey.org

Trust for the Americas www.trustfortheamericas.org

UNDP www.undp.org

UNLIREC www.unlirec.org

Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) www.wola.org

 

ANNEX II

Contributions from Member States and Permanent Observers

The complete information as follows is found on the website of the Department of Public Security of the OAS Secretariat for Multidimensional Security:

http://www.oas.org/dsp/English/cpo_actividades_pandillas_actividad_segunda_sesion_espacial.asp

National Experiences

Member States

Bahamas

· Gangs in the Bahamas

Brazil

· PRONASCI - National Program for Public Security and Citizenship, seeks to engage directly with young people, especially in the more vulnerable social groups particularly the following categories of young people: adolescents who break the law, young people who have done compulsory military service, young prisoners or former prisoners, and young people in seriously out of control family situations. Special prisons were established for young adults, where inmates could be separated by age group and by type of crime committed.

· I PROTECT – Seeks to protect vulnerable young people, especially those from broken home or those exposed to domestic and urban violence. It engages them in sports, educational, and cultural activities to restore their sense of citizenship.

· WOMEN OF PEACE – This program trains women leaders, in communities where PRONASCI operates, in such issues as ethics, human rights, and citizenship, to serve as catalysts of that program.

· PPCAAM (Program to Protect Children and Adolescents at Risk of Death) – Developed as a strategy to combat child mortality, the program, operates on two levels:(Direct care for at-risk children and adolescents and their families and as a prevention strategy, through studies and research as well as support for projects to engage at-risk adolescents.

· SCHOOL THAT PROTECTS – In the area of crime prevention, children and adolescents are a particularly vulnerable social group.

· OPEN SCHOOLS PROGRAM – Re-thinking educational institutions as an alternative environment for primary level public school students and their communities to pursue training, cultural, sports, and recreation activities on weekends.

· The National Youth Inclusion Program (ProJovem), based on the notion that juvenile crime should not be redressed solely with anti-crime or repressive policies but with community education and social inclusion measures as well, has provided access to education, health, and a decent life and, in particular, to promote reincorporation into society for young people involved in criminal activities.

Canada

· Youth at Risk Development Program in Calgary, Alberta, which employs a comprehensive approach that addresses multiple risk factors in the target population.

· The Anti-Gang Services in Regina, Saskatchewan, partners with police services, corrections, addictions, front-line support workers, educators, and federal partners, to use the Integrated Wraparound Process.

· The Preventing Youth Gang Activity in Toronto, Ontario, project implemented an integrated, targeted and evidence-based community program that reduces and prevents the proliferation of gangs in vulnerable Toronto neighbourhoods.

· The National Anti-Drug Strategy, which focuses on: law enforcement to combat drug production and distribution; education and outreach to prevent usage, especially among youth; and treatment and rehabilitation.

· The Investments to Combat the Criminal Use of Firearms Initiative has been helping to enhance the capacity of law enforcement agencies to combat gun crime, and the smuggling and trafficking of firearms.

· Violence Prevention Programs target violent criminal activity and interpersonal aggression.

· Substance Abuse Programs are available to offenders whose dependence on substance is related to their criminal behaviour.

· Alternatives, Associates, and Attitudes (AAA) is a moderate-intensity correctional program offered within correctional institutions and community.

· Aboriginal Offender Substance Abuse Program is a moderate-high intensity program for male Aboriginal offenders suffering from substance abuse.

· Aboriginal Basic Healing Program targets offenders who present needs in the areas of interpersonal problem solving, critical reasoning, self-control and self-management, rigid cognitive style and cultural identity.

· In Search of Your Warrior Program targets Aboriginal offenders with two or more convictions for violent offences.

· Justice Canada’s The “Guns, Gangs and Drug Priority” (a component of the Youth Justice Fund) is a response to youth involved in the justice system and involved in, or vulnerable to, gun, gang, drug activities.

· Funded projects can be organized into five categories; project examples follow:

o Knowledge Production & Education: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Winnipeg Project - Response Ability Pathways Training from Reclaiming our Youth. Three-day ‘train‑the‑trainer’ program for staff and volunteers working with gang-involved youth, youth with drug and alcohol issues, Aboriginal youth and youth in conflict with the law

o Youth Skills Development: PLEA Community Services of British Columbia Project - Career Path Pilot program. Offers comprehensive and specialized services including educational, training, mentoring and employment opportunities for youth in the justice system and who are at risk of, or involved in, gang activities.

o Peer to Peer Support or Mentoring: NDINAWEMAAGANAG ENDAAWAAD Project: Turning the Tides - Community Led Gang Prevention through Mentoring Development and implementation of an integrated mentorship model for gang-involved youth.

o Spirituality, Culture and/or Ethnicity Focused: FILE HILLS QU'APPELLE TRIBAL COUNCIL: Keskiminiheywina (Lessons of Life) Project - Three-year gang exit reintegration pilot project to support Aboriginal youth leaving gangs as they transition into their home communities.

o Youth Justice System Oriented: Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing (COSP) - Regina Connected Youth Project Pilot project undertaken in partnership with Street Culture Kidz Project Inc., to develop and support community connections for youth involved or at risk of involvement in gang activity who are currently sentenced and under the supervision of Young Offender Programs, Department of Corrections and Public Safety (CPS).

· Addressing Youth Gang Problems: an overview on programs and practices

Colombia

· The “Rescuing Youth” Program, promoted inter-institutionally by the National Police, the National Learning Service (SENA), and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Colombia in order to offer a comprehensive approach for prevention and for the rehabilitation of children and youth gang members.

· “Youth and Children’s Clubs,” promoted by the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF), offers a gathering place for vulnerable girls, boys, and teenagers between the ages of seven and 18 where they can develop skills to help them face life challenges in an appropriate way.

· Criminal Responsibility System for Teens (SRPA) promoted by the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF)

Ecuador

· Inclusion strategies and policies for gangs

· Two cities, two views about potential gang members

Guatemala

· “Barrera de los Doce” [“The Twelve Barrier”]

· Open Schools Program

· Safe Schools Program

· School Patrol Brigades

· Community Violence Prevention Unit (UPCV)

Mexico

· “Youth Sensors” project, which creates networks of youth trained to prevent risky behavior among their peers, which could turn into criminal acts.

· Document on Youth Gangs

Panama

· “Because of Hope,” a model for Secondary Prevention of Violence in the framework of the Comprehensive Security Program – PROSI. (Workshop school for training tourism assistants (AT), Workshop school for building restoration, Back-to-school scholarship program for former gang members that have dropped out of high school or university.)

United States

· Strategies for Combating Criminal Gangs from Central America and Mexico, Department of State.

· USAID

Activities:

§ USAID’s Regional Gang Prevention Program, managed in partnership with the Central American Integration System (SICA).

§ Network of Outreach Centers in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

§ Dialogue on juvenile justice reform to ensure that youth return to society as contributing members of their communities.

§ Cooperates with the International City/County Management Association to build networks of municipal actors to share innovations and best practices in crime and violence prevention;

§ Supports the Organization of American States (OAS) to employ a novel collaborative media campaign to encourage youth to resist crime, violence, and substance abuse;

§ Coordinates with Vanderbilt University to implement rigorous monitoring and impact evaluation of the aforementioned two projects, measuring their effects on citizen perceptions of security to learn what works or does not work in community-based crime and violence prevention;

§ USAID coordinates closely with other U.S. Government agencies active in crime and violence prevention through groups such as the International Armed Gangs Task Force and, at the country level, through the Country Team at each Embassy.

USAID at National level

El Salvador

§ The Community-Based Crime and Violence Prevention project

§ Rule of Law programs focus on justice sector reform, institutional strengthening, crime prevention, transparency and anticorruption

Guatemala

§ Youth Centers alliance, which worked with public and private sector partners to manage youth centers serving over 1,000 at-risk youth in high-risk areas.

§ Legal on crime, security, and corruption as critical themes.

§ community policing aims to reduce youth vulnerability to gang recruitment and rehabilitate ex-gang members, among other strategies

Honduras

§ Educatodos program in partnership with the Honduran Ministry of Education provides basic education for Hondurans.

§ In partnership with the Ministry of Education, USAID is expanding its civic education program to target an additional 20,000 vulnerable youth subject to violence, illegal migration, gang recruitment, and school desertion.

§ Promotes key judicial reforms

Panama

§ Has worked to assure civil society participation in promoting judicial reforms, strengthened the rule of law by improving the justice system and facilitating citizens’ access to justice.

Nicaragua

§ Has helped to draft and pass a comprehensive Criminal Procedures Code reform with a corresponding implementation package.

§ Assisted arbitration and mediation centers are providing improved access to justice for the poor as well as for commercial enterprises, offering an alternative to the formal legal system. With USAID help, over the past several years new coalitions have emerged to advocate for justice including - for the first time ever - a women's rights coalition and an indigenous rights coalition. At the same time, USAID has worked with a coalition of all 24 law schools on a comprehensive curricular reform package. Today, all new prosecutors, judges, and public defenders are hired through competitive processes, as a result of past assistance from the USAID justice program.

Costa Rica

§ Supports technical assistance to the government of Costa Rica to compose a strategy for maintaining the security of its citizens.

Documents:

§ Human Security, Firearms and Armed Violence

§ Practical Disarmament and Armed Violence Reduction

More information: http://www.usaid.gov

Venezuela

· The Negra Hipólita Mission aimed at combating marginality and promoting comprehensive care for street children and teenagers.

· The Robinson Mission to eradicate illiteracy

· The Ribas Mission aimed at helping those who did not finish the final years of high school to go back to school and find work.

· The Sucre Mission, an inclusion program that proposes making higher education available through municipalities.

· Children and youth choir and orchestra systems

· Social development and prevention strategy


Permanent Observers

Austria

· “The Outside Part” project: joint work between police officers and youth in the school environment

· “Click and check” use of technology like cell phones and personal computers

· “Clever and cool” inter-agency cooperation project for preventing criminality associated with drugs

· “Really Strong” program, the development of strategies to confront fear.

· “Looking for Freedom,” a search for criminal risk factors through work in groups.

· SIMO: a safety monitoring tool

· Internet application for preventing crime

· GIS: Geo-Referenced Information System.

Spain

· Director of Action and Coordination plan for preventing the appearance and consolidation of violent youth organizations and groups.

 

ANNEX III

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

AND CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS

The complete information below can be found on the website of the Department of Public Security of the OAS Secretariat for Multidimensional Security:

http://www.oas.org/dsp/English/cpo_actividades_pandillas_actividad_segunda_sesion_espacial.asp

General Secretariat of the OAS, Department of Public Security

Activities:

· Diagnostic assessment of the gang situation in Antigua and Barbuda

· Understanding and diminishing gang crime and violence in the Caribbean

· Inter-American Police Training Program (PICAP) – Courses on police intelligence and criminal information systems.

Documents:

· Violence and Gangs

· Definition and Classification of Gangs. Executive Summary

· Summary of First Special Meeting on Gangs

· Summary of Second Special Meeting on Gangs

More information: http://www.oas.org/dsp/English/cpo_sobre.asp

World Bank

Activities:

· “School-Based Violence Prevention Toolkit” (Manual for Preventing Violence in Schools)

· Program for strengthening institutional capacity (module on youth violence prevention, for developing municipal capacities to reduce crime and violence)

Documents:

· “Caribbean Youth Development: Issues and Policy Directions” (2003)

· “Crime, Violence, and Economic Development in Brazil” (2006)

· “Youth at Risk in Brazil” (2007)

· "Crime, Violence, and Development: Trends, Costs, and Policy Options in the Caribbean” (Chapter on Youth Violence: A Case Study of the Dominican Republic). (2007)

More information: http://web.worldbank.org/



CARICOM/ Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS)

Activities:

· Development of Regional Crime and Security Strategy and comprehensive National Security Plans;

· Implementation of Counter Proliferation Strategy (SALW) and Regional Integrated Ballistic Information Network (RIBIN) etc);

· Review of concept of National Joint Coordinating Centers (NJCCs);

· Improvement of Regional Capacity in Intelligence, Kidnapping and Homicide Investigations (Regional Investigative Management System (RIMS) etc);

· Implementation of Regional Cyber-security Plan;

· Implementation of a travel card (CARIPASS) for the Region; and

· Systems and Databases survey for an Integrated Criminal Records Systems (ICRS).

More information: www.caricomimpacs.org

 

 

International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC)

 

Activities:

· Youth self reported delinquency survey

Documents:

· International compendium of crime prevention practices

· Best practices on gangs

· Youth gangs

· Summary of the international panorama of gangs

More information: http://www.crime-prevention-intl.org/

Creative Associates International Inc (CAII)

Activities:

· Challenge 10 and Challenge 100 Project

· Outreach centers, established with local public/private partners

· Assistance to communities in crime prevention

· Evaluation of national/legal frameworks/policies and best practices validated by working groups and regional comparative analysis

· Youth challenge program

· Youth alliance association

· Awareness strategy designed and operating

· Former gang members treated at the tattoo removal clinic

· Public and private sector alliances formed aimed at reducing gang violence

· Regional forums on juvenile criminal justice

Documents:

· CENTRAL AMERICA: Creative and USAID Gang Study Finds Comprehensive Regional Approach Needed

· Businesses Give Ex-Gang Members Jobs, Skills to Lead New Lives

· USAID Youth Challenge Alliance Program: Providing Opportunities to Guatemala’s Vulnerable Youth

· 90 minutes against violence

· 90 dialogues against violence

· Anti-violence bus

· Coalition for a Life of Dignity for Youth

More information: http://www.caii-dc.com/

ITAM

Activities:

· Transnational Network for Analysis on Gangs—Multi-stakeholder project that brings together decision-makers, activists, and academics in order to generate a broad dialogue and impact the formulation of comprehensive public policies.

Documents:

· “Transnational Youth Gangs in the Central America-Mexico-United States Sub-region”

More information: http://interamericanos.itam.mx/maras/

Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN)

Activities:

· IIN Inter-American Observatory (ANNAObserva)

· Virtual Courses:

§ Updates on the Rights of the Child;

§ Child and teen participation in building citizenship and their impact on public policies;

Documents:

· Videos on the promotion of children’s rights

More information: http://www.iin.oea.org

INTERPOL

· The MARAS Project, whose objective is to make INTERPOL tools for secure, real-time information exchange on gangs available to the member countries of the region in order assist law enforcement agencies in Central America and other countries.

More information: http://www.interpol.int/Public/Icpo/srb/sansalvadorES.asp

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)

Activities:

· Violence and human security

· Border security initiatives

· Project “Strengthening Youth Development and Violence Prevention in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, and Peru”

· Youth network

· Unite to End Violence Against Women, a campaign of the United Nations Secretary General

Documents:

· World Report on Violence and Health – PAHO, 2003

· Violence Prevention: The Evidence – PAHO, 2009

· TEACH-VIP (violence and injury prevention) – PAHO

· Policies for Reducing Alcohol Related Violence Among Youth: An Environmental Approach - PAHO, 2008. On Your Mark, Get Set, Go! A Summary of Effective Interventions in Violence that Affects Teens and Youth - PAHO, 2008.

· Youth Violence in the Americas: Innovative Research, Diagnostic, and Prevention Studies – PAHO, 2000

· Public Policies and Legal Frameworks for Preventing Violence Related to Teens and Youth”
– PAHO, 2006

· State of the Art in Community and Family Based Violence Prevention Programs with a Gender Focus” – PAHO, 2006

· State of the Art in Violence Prevention Programs in School Environments” – PAHO, 2006

· Evidence Document about the State of the Art in Youth Violence Prevention Programs Based on the Use of Media – PAHO, 2006

· State of the Art in Youth Violence Prevention Programs: Based on Development Promotion – PAHO, 2006

· Regional Strategy for Improving the Health of Teenagers and Youth – PAHO, 2006

· Regional Action Plan for Improving the Health of Teenagers and Youth 2010-2018

· Ministerial Statement on the Prevention of Violence and Injury in the Americas Mérida, Yucatán, México – March 14, 2008

· Violence and Trauma Prevention and the Promotion of Security: A Call to Action in the Region

· Regional Strategy for Improving the Health of Teenagers and Youth

More information: http://www.paho.org

SMALL ARMS SURVEY (SAS)

Activities:

· Small Arms Survey research on gangs and armed groups

Documents:

· 2010 Small Arms Survey Yearbook

· Gangs, Guns, and Governance in Trinidad and Tobago

· Gangs of Central America: Causes, Costs, and Interventions

· "Stray Bullets: The Impacts of Small Arms Availability on Criminality in Central America"

More information: http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/

TRUST FOR THE AMERICAS

Activities:

· Young Poet

· Stopping the wave of youth crime, violence, and drug abuse in Central America: Raising awareness and promoting prevention among at-risk youth

Documents:

· Projects related to at-risk youth in Latin American and the Caribbean (Youth Portal, Videos)

More information: http://www.trustfortheamericas.org/

UNDP

Activities:

· Observatories on Violence

· Diagnosis Toolkits: To have the capacity to generate information –especially at the local level – on situation of violence

· Knowledge Fair on Citizen Security.

Documents:

· Towards the construction of a society without violence (El Salvador)

· Support for the national disarmament process and initiatives to reduce armed violence (Haiti)

· Restorative Justice Reform Policy (Jamaica)

· Diagnosis on Domestic and Sexual Violence (Nicaragua)

More information: http:// www.undp.org

UN-LiREC

Activities:

· First Regional Survey of policies to Prevent Firearms Proliferation and Armed Violence in Educational Centers of Latin America and the Caribbean

Documents:

· Human Security, Firearms and Armed Violence

· Practical Disarmament and Armed Violence Reduction

More information: http://www.unlirec.org/

 

ANNEX IV

Executive Summary of the study, Definition and Classification of Gangs,
prepared by the OAS General Secretariat

José Miguel Insulza

Secretary General

Organization of American States (OAS)

Alexandre Addor-Neto

Secretary

Secretariat for Multidimensional Security

Christopher Hernández-Roy

Director

Department of Public Security

Julio M. Rosenblatt

Chief

Public Security Policy Section

 

Ariel Gustavo Forselledo

Consultant

Coordinator of the Team of Experts of the Project

Carlos Mario Perea

Colombia Consultant

Bruno Soria

Ecuador Consultant

Win Savenije

El Salvador Consultant

Joan Serra Hoffman

United States Consultant

Bárbara Mejía

Honduras Consultant

Julie Meeks

Jamaica Consultant

Department of Public Security

Organization of American States

1889 F Street 8th F

Washington, DC 20006

USA

This work was possible thanks to the support of the Mission of the People’s Republic of China to the OAS.

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1. Introduction

In response to the growing concern among the member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS), the General Secretariat of the Organization has been engaged for more than one year in a systematic study of the issue of gangs and their various violent and criminal manifestations.

The Department of Public Security (DPS) of the OAS has been assigned the mandate and responsibility to propose hemispheric measures on this problem, on the understanding that violence in general, and that generated by gangs in particular, has become a topic that resonates deeply in the inter-American system. The resolutions and mandates of the Organization urge the adoption of crosscutting and regional measures for prevention and control of violence in order to protect the political and democratic stability of member states.

It soon became clear in the course of the General Secretariat’s work on this issue that a great deal of information exists, as well as a large amount of valuable research on gangs in the member states of the Organization. The first problem to emerge was that the different conceptual frameworks and methodologies used in these studies very often made comparison, extrapolation, or generalization difficult. As a result of this information mustering process, the conclusion was reached that a lot of information was available but that it did not always furnish the clarity needed to support decision-making on the problem.

As the initiator and facilitator of the conceptual debate on gangs, the Department of Public Security of the OAS circulated a document titled “Violence and youth gangs: A regional intervention strategy” in September 2006, which brought the Organization into contact with different actors and institutions as well as fueling interest in this study.

In this context, the DPS believed it appropriate to begin the development of its intervention proposals by establishing a clear and consensualized definition of the scope of the term “gang” as well as identifying the categories that trace the transition from a mere grouping of children, adolescents, and youth to a violent criminal organization. To that end, it was decided to form a group of experts who would each work in their respective countries on a study to define and categorize gangs. The group was made up of experts from El Salvador, Honduras, the United States, Colombia, Ecuador, and Jamaica. At the same time, it should be pointed out that this selection of countries does not rule out work with other countries at later stages.

There is a good likelihood that the consensus achieved will lead to the consolidation of a horizontal dialogue and new cooperation projects with other inter-American and United Nations agencies, with a view to developing a Regional Plan on Gangs in the Hemisphere.

Although the gang phenomenon has aspects in common in all the OAS member countries consulted for this project, there are characteristics unique to each country, which, nevertheless, converge in all cases to threaten public security and violate human rights, both of gang members and of the victims of their activities.

Based on the background information submitted by the experts consulted, it emerges that the gang problem is viewed as:

- Basically urban,

- A public security and safety issue, rather than to do with the socioeconomic context or human rights,

- Linked to adolescents and youth, although they are a minority in violent gangs or “maras.” Generally speaking, in the countries consulted, there are more juvenile offenders under 18 than gang members under 18. In some countries gang members less than 18 years old represent between 4% and 5% of minors under 18 deprived of liberty. In Honduras, for instance, in 2007 there were 736 incarcerated gang members over 18, as compared to 19 less than 18 years old. In the United States it is estimated that between 5% and 7% of minors aged 12 to 16 is or has been a gang member,

- Arises from conditions of poverty and exclusion,

- Closely linked to a lack of opportunities provided by the government, the market, and the community,

- Originate among children or adolescents who come from dysfunctional families and are looking for an identity, protection, sense of belonging, and power,

- With a clear gender bias towards male domination, ranging from 2.5 - 1 to 9 - 1

- Ethnically heterogeneous, but Latin Americans and Afro-descendants predominate over white Anglo-Saxons,

- Linked to many national homicides,

- Linked increasingly to trafficking in drugs, arms, and persons, and other crimes related to organized crime.

2. Rights-based approach and gender perspective

As far as a rights-based approach is concerned, it is interesting to note that the problem is not visualized or analyzed from the point of view of the human rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other international treaties and conventions.

There are a variety of interpretations that suggest that children and adolescents linked to gangs seek in a “compensatory” way to gain their rights to survival, protection, and participation, with the unresolved paradox that this endeavor, in many cases, violates their rights.

It was concluded that it is more “easy” for society, which demands societal control of violence, to regard juvenile gang members as victimizers to be prosecuted and punished, rather than as individuals with rights whom society has sidelined and left unprotected, in violation of the principle that such rights are universal and inalienable.

As for a gender perspective, with the exception of some isolated references in the reports submitted by Colombia, Honduras, Jamaica and the United States, the study on gangs has found it difficult to include information on gender. One of the reasons is the lack of national research from this perspective and the disparity of the information that such research has produced on this aspect in particular.

Even today methodological problems still plague many of the reports that refer to female involvement in gangs and even more so where female gangs are concerned. Given that the extent of female gangs is not very significant when one considers problem of gangs as a whole, unfortunately they have received scant attention in the framework of prevention, care, and rehabilitation programs.

The social reintegration of women gang members in a society without opportunities is harder for them and their children, who are doomed to repeat the cycle of poverty and exclusion.

The evolution of female participation in gangs described by some authors would appear to be intended to achieve a degree of “equality or equalization of gender” since “gender equality” has to do with needs, strategies, and policies designed to attain equal opportunity for advancement.

Generally speaking, gender differences–which are not differences in treatment for obtaining equal opportunity–subject women to a role of inferiority, even slavery, totally removed from the “opportunities” of male gang members. The initiation rite is an example of this since when it consists of having obligatory sexual relations with a given number of "homies" in the gang, it leaves women relegated to a subordinate position in the group: sexual objects with all the physical, sexual, and reproductive health risks that entails. If, on the other hand, the rite involves the “traditional beating” for 13 seconds, the aim is to “equal” the treatment that males receive so that women can have access to the same opportunities in the gang. This option, which disregards gender differences, would appear to be the more usual and accords them greater status because the women are assimilated on the same footing as the males.

3 Definition of “gang”

The criteria that a country uses in defining gangs (in particular youth gangs) unquestionably determine the course of the strategy that it adopts to deal with the problem, from positions that focus on prevention and social integration of male and female gang members, to those that justify a “tough stance” through repression and indiscriminate incarceration.

The project has adopted the following definition:

"Youth gangs represent a spontaneous effort by children and young people to create, where it does not exist, an urban space in society that is adapted to their needs, where they can exercise the rights that their families, government, and communities do not offer them. Arising out of extreme poverty, exclusion, and a lack of opportunities, gangs try to gain their rights and meet their needs by organizing themselves without supervision and developing their own rules, and by securing for themselves a territory and a set of symbols that gives meaning to their membership in the group. This endeavor to exercise their citizenship is, in many cases, a violation of their own and others’ rights, and frequently generates violence and crime in a vicious circle that perpetuates their original exclusion. This is why they cannot reverse the situation that they were born into. Since it is primarily a male phenomenon, female gang members suffer more intensively from gender discrimination and the inequalities inherent in the dominant culture."[2]/

This attempted “eclectic” definitions seeks to decriminalize the phenomenon and transform the view of the child or youth gang member as that “victimizer” who must be prosecuted and imprisoned, and restore them to their status as citizens with rights whom society has sidelined and left unprotected, violating the principle that those rights are universal and inalienable.

4. Differences with other juvenile groups and paths to adult gangs

As regards the difference between a youth gang and other juvenile groups, it has been found that the latter have different forms of association based on the same gregarious and natural, fundamental mechanism through which they seek identity, satisfaction of their needs, and protection. Gangs differ from other juvenile relational models in that they have clearly defined fixed and drastic internal rules whose breach can entail punishments that may even result in death.

As a juvenile group becomes more like a gang -with a greater focus on illegal activities or increased rivalry with other groups- the group’s self-view consolidates as being “different from the rest” and culturally opposed to other, non-gang youth. Gangs thrive on conflict, sometimes with the authorities or the community, but usually with other gangs. The experience of helping one another reinforces the group’s internal cohesion, developing an emotionally charged network as a core element in the life of the gang. The counterculture element of gangs distances their members from societal and state institutions, such as school or the police, and distinguishes the gang from most other juvenile groups.

As for the existence of a path towards adult gangs, virtually all of the consultants said that it exists and is determined, inter alia, by the following factors:

- The gradual increase in the age of gang members within the gangs.

- Territorial mobility

- The repatriation of gang members from the United States

- The alliance between US and Salvadoran gangs

- Transnational adult gangs.

5. Categories of gangs

Coming up with a classification for gangs that is essentially operative for the purposes of prevention, observance and protection of human rights of victims and victimizers, societal control, rehabilitation, and full inclusion in society of former gang members is a difficult task that may overlook aspects regarded by many as relevant but which demands synthesis, hierarchicalization of classification rules, and, above all, simplicity and clarity of concept.

It was understood that the classification should not only reflect the reality described by the experts consulted and the literature on the subject, but also “decriminalize” a very sizeable number of children and youth who are at present viewed, categorized, and even stigmatized as dangerous delinquents, a “label” that consigns them to the most profound and irreversible exclusion in an utterly flagrant violation of their universally recognized basic rights. These rights must be preserved, protected and promoted, and it is the responsibility of the state, family, and community to do so.

Definitions and classifications of gangs strongly impregnated with criminological views tend to regard children and juveniles as criminals, when in fact they comprise a small minority within gangs. This also assumes that the great majority of child and juvenile gang members either fall into non-lawbreaking gang categories, or the offenses they commit are insignificant when compared to other types of violent and criminal gangs, whose leaders and members are usually over 18. Neither of these affirmations excludes the possibility that a small number of children and juveniles may commit crimes as members of violent and criminal gangs.

Based on structural criteria such as size, gender, ethnic composition and ages, life span, territoriality, and criminality, as well as on criteria of origin, objectives, operating methods, and evolution, the following categories are proposed:

1. Scavenger (short-lived) gangs

Little organization or structure (e.g. “school gangs”)

a. Size: Small to medium sized (15-40 members)

b. Gender: Male, with reluctant acceptance of female members

c. Ethnic composition: Heterogeneous

d. Ages: Adolescents (13-18 years old)

e. Territoriality: Secondary school and neighborhood

f. Criminality: Confrontations with other rival school gangs outside the schools and neighboring streets, extortion, intimidation, and other criminal acts, usually minor offenses, within and around their neighborhood and school.

g. Origin: Rivalry among schools in a given area

h. Objectives: Not specified

i. Operating methods: They have a leadership that is respected but do not have a consolidated, clear organization and structure for carrying out their activities. Often spontaneous in reaction to an attack from a rival gang, or directly ordered by the leader Crime is not part of their reason for being although it is often earns them “prestige” in the context where they live.

j. Other activities: They engage in other activities that are not antisocial, such as sport (mainly football or basketball), movies or dances.

k. Evolution: Initial stage. Independent of others; may evolve into other types of gangs.

l. Human Rights:

Human rights of gang members violated by third parties: Economic and social rights: Right to integral development through an education of the highest quality that stimulates their abilities; Right to survival through a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Political right to participation, among others.

Human rights violated by gang members: Those of their peers, in terms of the civil rights to protection from physical and psychological mistreatment and abuse those of the school and the community, in terms of the right to property, among others.

2. “Transgressor” gangs

Organized without specifically violent purposes (e.g. “youth gangs”)

a. Size: Medium sized (40-80 members)

b. Gender: Mainly male although female members are allowed (Male to female ratio:
5-1).

c. Ethnic composition: Heterogeneous, with mostly Latin American and Afro-descendents

d. Ages: Children and youth (10-18 years old)

e. Territoriality: Neighborhood

f. Criminality: Constant protection and violent defense against the rival gang. They use violence to impose control over the territory that they claim as theirs. They are involved in criminal activities within and outside their territory.

g. Origin: They arise in the situations of exclusion and structural poverty of their childhood and youth, in a bid to satisfy their rights to survival, protection and participation. They are organized without supervision, develop their own rules and membership criteria, secure for themselves a territory and a set of symbols that give them identity, and consolidate themselves through permanent rivalry and confrontation with enemy gangs.

h. Objectives: To give “meaning to a life without meaning or opportunities”

i. Operating methods: They have standards, rules, a ranking, and initiation rites. They plan their activities both in order to commit crimes and to confront or retaliate against rival gangs. They use drugs, carry arms and may evolve towards more complex criminal activities

j. Other activities: Sometimes in defense of their territory they carry out activities that could be considered to be in solidarity with the neighborhood; however these are infrequent. They sometimes get involved in art and music, and may have a website and blogs.

k. Evolution:

Secondary stage: It could be said that these gangs emerge “naturally” from groups that use the streets as a means of survival; that is, those composed of children living on the streets who have severed their family ties or are on the verge of doing so. These spontaneous groups which offer “protection” to their members and are induced to “life on the streets” by those who have gone before them in that experience acquire the form of gangs when rules and hierarchies appear (very often copied from other groups) and ties with other gangs already consolidated as such are established.

As the members of gangs that have secured a territory grow older they may become led by adults or establish links to other adult-led gangs, which then go on to operate as a network through subdivisions or cliques This evolution turns them into “street gangs” with cells or cliques that operate as a criminal organization at a national and international level and display an increasingly complex modus operandi.

l. Human Rights:

Human rights of gang members violated by third parties:

* Economic and social rights to survival (food, health, social security) and integral development (education, family ties, rest, play, and culture);

* Civil rights to protection (preservation of identity, nationality, protection against mistreatment and abuse, labor and sexual exploitation, trafficking, etc.) which are violated on account of being estranged or quasi-estranged from their families, excluded from society and without opportunities to reverse their situation. (The gang tries to compensate for these rights but all it does is worsen the gravity of the situation in which they live). The right to proper administration of justice when they are in conflict with the law (illegal and unconstitutional detentions without due process guarantees as well as deprivation of liberty for lengthy periods without a conviction and in facilities where human rights violations are reinforced).

* Political right to participation (the gang tries to compensate for this right).

Human rights violated by gang members: Those of their peers, in terms of their civil rights to protection from physical and psychological mistreatment and abuse; their rights to survival as a result of drug and alcohol use; and their civil rights to protection as a result of drug trafficking. The rights of others who live in the gang’s “territory,” through violation of their rights to property and physical integrity.

3. Violent gangs

Organized explicitly for violent ends (e.g. Central American gangs or maras)

a. Size: Large (100-500 members)

b. Gender: Mainly male although female members are allowed (Male to female ratio: up to 9-1)

c. Ethnic composition: homogeneous (depending on the gang) Mainly Latin American In the USA also Afro-descendant and Asian.

d. Ages: Youth and adults (15-30 and over)

e. Territoriality: Neighborhoods dominated by cliques

f. Criminality: The same as the previous group, but with a greater tendency towards homicide

g. Origin: They arise in a similar context to youth gangs but are at a more advanced stage of their evolution in terms of committing more complex crimes.

h. Objectives: To give meaning to a life without meaning, and look into the possibility of profitable illegal activities

i. Operating methods: Same as previous group but more complex and with connections with other cliques

j. Other activities: Virtually none

k. Evolution:

Third stage: These are a continuation of youth gangs that have not disbanded but consolidated their organization and structure in their territory. They may adopt their own names or use those of other gangs as cliques of the latter.

Street gang cliques whose members have not died or have managed to leave them evolve toward the formation of “criminal gangs.”

l. Human Rights:

Human rights of gang members violated by third parties:

* Economic and social rights to survival and integral development. Same as above with respect to minors under 18 years old;

* Civil right to protection. Same as above with respect to minors under 18 years old.

* Political rights to participation (Same as above with respect to minors under 18 years old) and proper administration of justice when they are in conflict with the law (applies both to minors and to adults over 18 years old)

Human rights violated by gang members: Those of their peers: Same as for juvenile gangs but more serious and with greater frequency. The rights of others who live in the clique’s “territory” and areas of criminal activity, including the rights to life (higher homicide rate), physical integrity (more acts of violence), public health (drug trafficking), public safety, and property (among others).

Article 2 of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, “Palermo Convention”, provides that for the purposes of the Convention:

“(c) “Structured group” shall mean a group that is not randomly formed for the immediate commission of an offence and that does not need to have formally defined roles for its members, continuity of its membership or a developed structure;”

Therefore, as the crimes they commit become more complex, violent street gangs (or “maras” in Spanish) can be considered “structured groups” and their offenses regarded as those classified in this international instrument and liable to the penalties proposed thereby for consideration by each state party.

At the same time, Article 25 on “Assistance to and protection of victims” should be interpreted by states parties in the sense that any minors under 18 years old who are used by organized criminal groups to commit the crimes provided for should be afforded the considerations and protections of their rights provided in the Convention on the Rights of the Child; they should also be considered “victims” until proven otherwise.

4. Criminal gangs

Organized for criminal purposes (e.g. international “maras”)

a. Size: Medium sized to large (50-200 members)

b. Gender: Mainly male although a small number of female members are allowed.

c. Ethnic composition: homogeneous (depending on the gang) Mainly Latin American. In the USA also Afro-descendant and Asian.

d. Ages: youth and adults (18-30 and over)

e. Territoriality: They are identified with territories but their activities are not limited to them as they may operate in other areas under instructions.

f. Criminality: Various organized criminal activities using sophisticated weapons. Their crimes include trafficking in drugs, arms, and persons; robbery, kidnapping, extortion, pandering, and murder (including by contract).

g. Origin: Final stage in the gang evolution, from the youth group that seeks solutions and a meaning to life, to the adult organization with greater links to organized crime.

h. Objectives: Money, a “reputation” in certain territories, and a “parallel power” to the one that excluded them from society.

i. Operating methods: Same as previous group, but with a high level of training, discipline, planning, organization, and logistics in their criminal activities. They have a well-defined hierarchical organization and even units that specialize in certain types of crime. In several countries they are well known by the police. Organized crime organizations frequently hire gang members to carry out contract killings.

j. Other activities: Virtually none

k. Evolution:

Final stage: They are on a destructive path where they end up in prison or come to a violent end. It would be fair to say that a criminal gang stops being a gang and becomes a criminal organization when it begins to engage as a group in significant and elaborate crimes.

l. Human Rights:

Human rights of gang members violated by third parties:

* Economic and social rights (exclusion) political rights (to citizenship and participation) and civil rights to proper administration of justice when they are in conflict with the law (illegal and unconstitutional detentions without due process guarantees as well as deprivation of liberty for lengthy periods without a conviction and in facilities where human rights violations are reinforced).

Human rights violated by gang members: Those of their peers (survival, development, protection) Those of others who live in the gang’s “territory” and the wider areas in the country and abroad where they carry out their criminal activities. They violate the rights to life; to physical, psychological, moral and social integrity; to public health; to public safety; to property, and to national security, among others.

Article 2 of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, “Palermo Convention”, provides that for the purposes of the Convention:

‘(a) “Organized criminal group” shall mean a structured group of three or ore persons, existing for a period of time and acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offences established in accordance with this Convention, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit;’

Therefore, as they exist to commit elaborate crimes in connection with international organized crime, criminal gangs can be considered “organized criminal groups” and their offenses regarded as those classified in this international instrument and liable to the penalties proposed thereby for consideration by each state party.

5. Female gangs (little researched)[3]/

Organized by gender for non violent purposes (e.g. “female gangs” in the United States)

a. Size: Small to medium sized (15-40 members)

b. Gender: Women only. Some are independent while others are “affiliated” to male gangs. Less frequently women-led gangs have been described with members from both sexes.

c. Ethnic composition: Only studied in the USA Mostly Latin American and Afro-descendents.

d. Ages: Youth and adults (15-25 years old)

e. Territoriality: USA: Female gangs are mainly found in small cities and rural areas with gang problems.

f. Criminality: Extortion, intimidation and other, generally minor, criminal acts in and around their neighborhood, territory or rural area.

g. Origin: They emerge as imitations of male-dominated youth gangs and are seen as an “opportunity” to escape from physical and sexual abuse in their homes, as well as obtain protection, consideration and a measure of power and respect.

h. Objectives: To give “meaning to a life without meaning or opportunities”

i. Operating methods: Same as youth gangs

j. Other activities: No research

k. Evolution:

They are a kind of youth gang with a “gender bias” only described in the United States. Unless they recruit new members they tend to disappear because women abandon the gang lifestyle sooner in life than men. Another alternative is to join a male-led gang.

l. Human Rights:

Human rights of gang members violated by third parties: Economic and social rights: Right to integral development through an education of the highest quality that stimulates their abilities; Right to equal gender opportunities; Right to survival through a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Political right to participation, among others.

Human rights violated by gang members: Those of their peers, in terms of the civil rights to protection from physical and psychological mistreatment and abuse The rights of others who live in the gang’s “territory,” through violation of their rights to property and physical integrity.

6. Legal framework for confronting the problem

In Colombia and Mexico, there is very little legislation on gangs and, therefore, a paucity of specialized institutions for tackling the problem. In addition care delivery mechanisms are insufficient, isolated, and poorly coordinated. This situation requires enactment of new legislation consistent with a rights-based approach.

In the case of Honduras, there are various, disparate laws and the agencies in charge of tackling the problem have overlapping jurisdictions, a situation aggravated by the fact that they are frequently in conflict with each other. Compounding this is their ineffectiveness, a shortage of staff, inadequate training, and underfunding. As a result, what few concrete measures have been implemented have lacked impact.

In El Salvador the legal framework, characterized by the introduction of tougher penalties for gang-related crimes, tends to criminalize youth but does not solve the overall problem of violence which tends erroneously to be blamed on gang activities.

In Ecuador there are no laws recognizing gang-related offenses or specific measures in that regard. Therefore new, specific legislation is urgently needed to deal comprehensively with this problem. This need is also evident from the lack of institutions and concrete measures in the areas of prevention, control and rehabilitation.

Jamaica’s case is quite similar to that of Ecuador except for the fact that there are laws in place that allow the confiscation of assets proceeding from the criminal activities of gangs.

In the United States there has been an intensive review of gang laws in recent years at both the federal and the state level, which has given rise to an explosion of repressive punitive measures against youth. There has been an increase in the range of offenses that may give rise to their exclusion from juvenile courts, reduce the confidentiality of proceedings and court records in juvenile cases, and establish a clearer link between offenses and penalties. This has been a response to the proliferation of gangs and the increase in levels of violence.

7. Prevention measures

For all of the above-described gang categories it is believed that specific public policies need to be designed and implemented based on modern laws and governing institutions in this area in each of the states involved.

These policies cannot be dissociated from social policies since it is not possible to prevent, contain and reduce a problem as serious as that of gangs without taking into consideration the structural factors of poverty, inequity, exclusion, and lack of opportunities from which they originate.

These structural factors are the reason why a large portion of the population lives in unfit conditions that violate their most basic human rights as well as creating a propitious climate for the spread of crime. Gangs are a dramatic synthesis of all this social dysfunctionality as they represent both exclusion and violent crime.

The governing institution in this area must be an inter-sectoral collegial agency that includes representatives from the social ministries, security agencies, civil society organizations, as well as state, departmental, and municipal government. This agency should set public policy on such matters, which should be instituted in a coordinated manner and overseen by an executive entity (whether with or without ministerial rank) with sufficient, efficient professional trained staff, as well as the material and financial resources needed to adequately implement interventions in the areas of prevention, control, and social reintegration and rehabilitation.

The prevailing ethical framework should be one of observance, assurance, and promotion of all human rights, in particular the rights of the child and women’s rights. The engine for a public intervention of this type is social mobilization through citizen participation. At the same time, the judiciary should adopt measures to ensure prompt judicial proceedings with due guarantees, protection of rights, and the provision of fit places for housing persons deprived of liberty.

Concrete steps should be taken for local strengthening of public trust, solidarity chains, recovery of neighborhoods and public spaces in communities, strengthening of formal and non formal education, and encouragement of the use of alternative dispute settlement mechanisms.

1. School gangs

For the countries that have reported the presence of this category of gangs an intervention on two levels is crucial: the school itself and community-based action.

Interventions should center on prevention since the evolution of this category may lead to the formation of youth and even violent gangs.

The aim of the efforts of the school and the community to which it belongs should be to reduce the motives for joining already established gangs and create alternative spaces for young people to come together for social, cultural, recreational and even productive pursuits.

Formal schools should devote particular efforts on enrolment, quality of education and student retention.

In this way, public interventions (understood as the State and civil society working in tandem) would aim at restoration of violated rights and protection of rights that could potentially be violated by gangs.

2. Youth gangs

Any policy proposed should aim to confront the youth gang phenomenon itself and be separate from crime-fighting policies since a social and cultural, rather than a repressive and police-based, approach should be adopted. Youth gangs do not represent crime itself but are a group phenomenon whose objective is to “give meaning to a life without meaning or opportunities,” one manifestation of which is to get involved in crime.

When crime becomes the gang’s reason for being then it becomes a violent gang, which is the next category.

Interventions that target youth gangs should be designed around a rights-based approach and a gender perspective, and generate: (1) Spaces for youth interaction and development; (2) a break with violent and delinquent dynamics; and, (3) new challenges and a favorable climate for youth development.

The aim of this line of action is to encourage the right to participation and development of civic-mindedness through activities that enable adolescents and youth to come out of hiding in gangs and make themselves visible through proposals, not confrontation, while at the same time promoting gender equity.

Prevention measures intended to stop adolescents and youths joining gangs should offer individual, group and community-based activities.

3. Violent gangs

Government policy on gangs and the agencies that implement it should bear in mind that violent gangs arise in similar context to youth gangs but are at a more advanced stage of their evolution in terms of committing more complex crimes.

The main differences with the previous category is that crime has become the center of activities that previously sought “to give meaning to a life without meaning or opportunities” and that the gang networks through cliques that maintain the identity of the original gang wherever they happen to be (regardless of the country, region or city). In addition, as the violent gang grows and matures its organization and structure become more complex and sophisticated and there is a predominance of higher age groups among its members.

Prevention measures with these gangs start to become relatively less important that control and rehabilitation measures.

Coordinated with interventions developed for youth gangs, it is necessary to put emphasis on prevention as a means to delay or prevent the entry of adolescents to violent gangs. At the same time it is necessary to design training programs for the security agencies that will be involved in crime prevention; their activities will have to be coordinated with those that work on social issues, particularly at the local or municipal level. For security agencies government policy on gangs will help to improve investigation techniques and intelligence as a means to tackle the problem and identify how the cliques of violent gangs that are active in the country, state, department, city and community operate. These crime prevention measures will also help to detect links between adult gang leaders deprived of liberty and those who operate on the streets.

As regards interventions, it is believed that within the legal framework in place (or to be amended) in each State, societal forms of crime control should be encouraged with selective and targeted efforts based on appropriate intelligence sources, by which it would be possible to avoid mass arrests and promote deterrent strategies against the evolution of “natural” adolescent groups towards youth and violent gang forms.

The key actors in societal and public-security interventions are to be found at the levels closest to where gangs operate; that is, at the community, local or municipal level. Therefore, it is essential for the institutions that tackle the gang problem to act in a decentralized manner, engaging academics, educators, street workers, local policy decision makers, community leaders, parish priests, members of local NGOs, etc., in promoting alternative solutions for personal advancement, especially for the minors under 18 involved, and for restoring their violated economic, social, civil and political rights.

As most members of violent gangs are over 18, social rehabilitation measures could start from the moment they are deprived of liberty (by providing them with a prompt trial and sentencing) if found guilty of having committed a crime. These measures should be based on an education in values, life-skills development, artistic expression, self-management, participation, vocational training and generation of alternative productive economic activities, as well as the opportunity of educational leveling (primary or secondary).

4. Criminal gangs

To the extent that criminal gangs exist to commit elaborate crimes in connection with international organized crime, they are “organized criminal groups” and their offenses are regarded as those classified in the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime, Convention of Palermo, and liable to the penalties proposed thereby for consideration by each state party.

Their criminal activities are varied and they are organized structured, and financed; therefore, they can be considered a part of organized crime. Their main criminal activities are trafficking in drugs, arms and persons; robbery, kidnapping, extortion, pandering, and murder (including by contract).

These gangs are the final stage in the gang evolution; they are on a destructive path where they end up in prison or come to a violent end. They violate the rights to life; to physical, psychological, moral and social integrity; to public health; to public safety; to property, and to national security, among others.

The purpose and scope of government policy on gangs would be exceeded by this category as they represent a form of transnational organized crime. That said, the measures implemented on the previous categories would have a direct adverse impact in the medium and long term on the recruitment of new members for these gangs.

5. Female gangs

Bearing in mind that female gangs emerge in the United States as imitations of male-dominated youth gangs and that they are seen by their members as an “opportunity” to escape from physical and sexual abuse in their homes, as well as obtain protection, consideration and a measure of power and respect, government programs on gangs require special and specific consideration for these groups with a gender perspective.

The institutions and levels of intervention are the same as those that would be designed for youth gangs, other than a number of specific components connected with coaching for adolescent and teenage girls in the process of abandoning the gang life, which, as noted above, occurs earlier among women than men.


CONCLUSIONS

1. Gangs offer a space for socialization, protection, friendship and fraternity, as well as for risk-taking and self-testing; access to money that they would not otherwise be able to obtain; sexual relations, and the possibility of acquiring an identity and a measure of power.

2. The resolutions and mandates of the Organization of American States urgently call for the adoption of crosscutting and regional prevention and control measures to tackle the violence.

3. The reference information on gangs shows that a great deal of information exists and that there is a large amount of valuable research on the issue; however, the different conceptual frameworks and methodologies very often produce findings that are hard to compare, extrapolate, or generalize.

4. These information problems have repercussions on effective decision making on the problem.

5. The reports resulting from the studies carried out by the six consultants in this project suggest that, overall, the gang problem is viewed as:

- Basically urban,

- A public security and safety issue, rather than to do with the socioeconomic context or human rights,

- Linked to adolescents and youth, although they are a minority in violent gangs or “maras”

- Arise from conditions of poverty and exclusion,

- Linked to a lack of opportunities provided by the government, the market, and the community

- Originate among children or adolescents who come from dysfunctional families and are looking for an identity, protection, sense of belonging, and power,

- With a clear gender bias towards male domination, ranging from 2.5 - 1 to 9 - 1

- Ethnically heterogeneous, but Latin Americans and Afro-descendants predominate over white Anglo-Saxons,

- Linked to many national homicides,

- Linked increasingly to trafficking in drugs, arms, and persons, and other crimes related to organized crime.

6. The main approaches in studying and addressing gangs do not include a human-rights perspective and, other than in some isolated cases, make it hard to include a gender approach.

7. The following definition of “gang” is adopted by consensus: “Youth gangs represent a spontaneous effort by children and young people to create, where it does not exist, an urban space in society that is adapted to their needs, where they can exercise the rights that their families, government, and communities do not offer them. Arising out of extreme poverty, exclusion, and a lack of opportunities, gangs try to gain their rights and meet their needs by organizing themselves without supervision and developing their own rules, and by securing for themselves a territory and a set of symbols that gives meaning to their membership in the group. This endeavor to exercise their citizenship is, in many cases, a violation of their own and others’ rights, and frequently generates violence and crime in a vicious circle that perpetuates their original exclusion. This is why they cannot reverse the situation that they were born into. Since it is primarily a male phenomenon, female gang members suffer more intensively from gender discrimination and the inequalities inherent in the dominant culture.”

8. There are routes towards adult gang membership characterized by:

- The gradual increase in the age of gang members within the gangs.

- Territorial mobility

- Deportation of gang members

- Alliances with gangs in North America

- Transnational adult gangs

9. This path to adult gangs is supported by the findings of the experts which show that:

- There are more juvenile offenders under 18 than gang members under 18.

- In some countries gang members less than 18 years old represent between 4% and 5% of minors under 18 deprived of liberty.

- In Honduras, for instance, in 2007 there were 736 incarcerated gang members over 18, while only 19 were minors.

- In the United States it is estimated that between 5% and 7% of minors aged 12 to 16 is or has been a gang member.

10. Categories of gangs. Based on the reports submitted, the following categories have been identified on the basis of structural criteria such as size, gender, ethnic composition and ages, life span, territoriality, and criminality, as well as on criteria of origin, objectives, operating methods, and evolution.

Scavenger (short-lived) gangs. Little organization or structure (e.g. “school gangs”). They are small (15-40 members) and mainly male, with reluctant acceptance of female members. They commit minor offenses: usually confrontations with other rival school gangs, extortion, intimidation, and other criminal acts within and around their neighborhood and school. The approach to this category of gangs should center on measures that promote rights and values, delay gang entry, and encourage student retention

“Transgressor” gangs. Organized without specifically violent purposes (e.g. “youth gangs.” Medium sized (40-80 members) and mainly male although female members are allowed (Male to female ratio: 5-1). Their levels of criminality are connected with protection against rival gangs, territorial control, and involvement in violent activities. The approach should aim for early detection as well as school, workplace and social reintegration.

Violent gangs. Organized explicitly for violent ends (e.g. “maras”). They are large (100-500 members) and are mainly male although female members are allowed (Male to female ratio: up to 9-1). The criminal activities of this category are characterized by a greater tendency toward violent crime than transgressor gangs, especially homicides as the aim of confronting enemy gangs. These gangs require an approach in which administration of justice observes the human rights and the right to integral rehabilitation of those members who are ready to abandon this life.

Criminal gangs. Organized for criminal purposes (e.g. international “maras”). They are large (50-200 members) and are mainly male although a small number of female members are allowed. Their main criminal activities are trafficking in drugs, arms and persons; robbery, kidnapping, extortion, pandering, and murder. The approach should be one of national and international control and punishment.

Female gangs. Organized by gender for non violent purposes (e.g. “female gangs” in the United States. They are small (15-40 members) and are composed exclusively of women. Some are independent while others are “affiliated” to male gangs. Less frequently women-led gangs have been described with members from both sexes. The approach should be similar to that for transgressor gangs.

They all violate rights, including those of their peers (civil rights to protection from physical and psychological mistreatment and abuse); those of others who live in the gang’s “territory” (rights to property and physical integrity), and rights to public safety, property and even national security.

11. For all of the above-described gang categories it is believed that specific public policies need to be designed and implemented based on updated laws and governing institutions in this area in each of the states involved. These policies cannot be dissociated from social policies since it is not possible to prevent, contain and reduce a problem as serious as that of gangs without taking into consideration the structural factors of poverty, inequity, exclusion, and lack of opportunities from which they originate. Every intervention should include an ethical framework of observance, assurance and promotion of human rights, as well as encouragement of citizen participation.

Concrete steps should be taken for local strengthening of public trust, solidarity chains, recovery of neighborhoods and public spaces in communities, strengthening of formal and non formal education, and encouragement of the use of alternative dispute settlement mechanisms. In addition the justice system should take steps to ensure prompt judicial proceedings that observe due process guarantees.

Washington, D.C., July 2007

 

ANNEX V

CONTRIBUTIONS FROM EXPERTS DURING THE FIRST SPECIAL MEETING
ON THE PHENOMENON OF CRIMINAL GANGS AND THE SECOND SPECIAL MEETING ON DRAFTING A REGIONAL STRATEGY TO PROMOTE INTER-AMERICAN COOPERATION IN DEALING WITH CRIMINAL GANGS

FIRST SPECIAL MEETING ON THE PHENOMENON OF CRIMINAL GANGS

During the first session held on January 17, 2008, in Washington D.C., invited experts spoke about the various ways of approaching the issue of criminal gangs. The topics addressed are detailed as follows. More information and the complete presentations can be found on the website of the Department of Public Security http://www.oas.org/dsp/English/cpo_sobre.asp.

Preventing the Criminal Gang Phenomenon

· “The phenomenon of criminal gangs in its diverse modalities and particularities,” OAS Department of Public Security.

· “Violence and Youth Gangs: A Public Health Focus,” Alberto Concha-Eastman, PAHO-OAS Regional Adviser for Violence and Injury Prevention

· Presentation of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) ********

· “Art and Culture as a Strategy for Preventing Social Violence,” Lenore Garcia, Director, Department of Education, OAS Executive Secretariat for Integral Development

· “Gangs,” National Police of Ecuador, National Office of Police Specializing in Children and Teenagers

Law Enforcement Approaches

· Gangs: Transnational Threat, Oscar Bonilla, President of the National Council of Public Security of El Salvador, Central American Integration System on Law Enforcement

· Safe Central America Plan, Presented by the Permanent Mission of El Salvador

· United States Strategy for Combating the Threat of Criminal Gangs from Central America and Mexico

SECOND SPECIAL MEETING ON DRAFTING A REGIONAL STRATEGY TO PROMOTE INTER-AMERICAN COOPERATION IN DEALING WITH CRIMINAL GANGS

Experts invited to the Second Session held on March 2, 2010 in Washington DC, spoke about various ways of confronting the criminal gang issue. The topics covered are detailed as follows. More information and the complete presentations are on the website of the OAS Department of Public Security. http://www.oas.org/dsp/English/cpo_sobre.asp .

 

Preventing the Criminal Gang Phenomenon

· Regional Strategy for Responding to Gangs in the Caribbean, by Charles M. Katz, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, Arizona State University, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Downtown campus.

· Community Responses to Violent Youth Gangs by Geoff Thale, Program Director at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

· Gang Violence Prevention Activities in Latin America and the Caribbean, by E. Brennan Dorn, Specialist in Democracy, Office of Sustainable Regional Development, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

· Presentation of the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC), by Esteban Benavides, Analyst and head of projects for Latin America, ICPC

Rehabilitation of Gang Members

· Experiences in the Rehabilitation and Reinsertion of Former Gang Members in Central America, by Enrique Roig, Senior Associate, Communities in Transition Division, Creative Associates International, Inc. (CAII)

· Rehabilitation of Young Gang Members, by Diego Uriburu, Deputy Executive Director, Identity Inc.

· Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation, of Drug-Dependent Offenders, by Anna Mc. G. Chisman, Head, Demand Reduction; and Latin American Education and Certification Program for Treatment and Rehabilitation from Drugs and Violence, by Alexandra Hill, Specialist, Demand Reduction, Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission for the Control of Drug Abuse (CICAD)

Law Enforcement Approaches

· Action and Prevention Measures against the Phenomenon of Gangs in Mexico, by Tomás Eduardo Murguía Camarena, General Coordination of Crime Information of the National Centre for Analysis, Planning and Information to Combat Crime (CENAPI) – Office of the Attorney General of the Republic of Mexico.

· Multinational Police Cooperation, by: Patrick Stevens, Liaison Officer of the Belgian Federal Police for the Bahamas, Canada, United States, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

Identification of Technical and Financial Resources

· Violence Prevention: The Evidence, by Alessandra Guedes, Regional Adviser on Intra-family Violence, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)

· Gangs in Central America, by Clare Ribando Seelke, Latin American Affairs specialist, Congressional Research Service (United States)

· Technical and Financial Resources for the Regional Strategy of Promoting Inter-American Cooperation for the Treatment of Criminal Gangs, by Lorena Cohan, Project Manager, World Bank Urban Crime and Crime Prevention Group



[1]. Established pursuant to resolution AG/RES. 2461 (XXXIX-O/9).

[2]. A more extensive definition might read: “Youth gangs represent a spontaneous effort by children and young people to create, where it does not exist, a space in (a fundamentally urban) society that is adapted to their needs, where they can exercise the rights that their families, government, and communities do not offer them. Arising as groups out of extreme poverty, exclusion, and a lack of opportunities, gangs try to gain their rights to survival, protection and participation by organizing themselves without supervision and developing their own membership rules and criteria, and by securing for themselves a territory and a set of symbols that gives meaning to their membership in the group. Paradoxically, this endeavor to exercise their citizenship is, in many cases, a violation of their own and others’ rights, and frequently generates violence and crime in a vicious circle that feeds and perpetuates their original exclusion. This is why gangs cannot reverse the situation that they were born into. Since it is primarily a male phenomenon, female gang members suffer more intensively from gender discrimination and the inequalities inherent in the dominant culture.”

[3]. As U.S. consultant Serra Hoffman notes, these gangs have only been described and studied in the United States by authors such as Meda Chesney-Lind and John Hagerdorn (1999 –2003).



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