Central America and Dominican Republic Militaries Train on Human Rights

Central America and Dominican Republic Militaries Train on Human Rights

By Dialogo
May 11, 2015




A group of Armed Forces officers from Central America and the Dominican Republic recently participated in a practical workshop directed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on defending the human rights of civilian populations during military operations against organized crime.

During the training, which took place in San Salvador from April 6-17, service members shared their experiences on protecting human rights while using force and firearms to combat violent criminals, according to Salvadoran Minister of Defense Major General David Munguía Payés.

"The Armed Forces have special commands that support the National Civil Police [PNC] that have come for training on international law standards that apply to day-to-day public security efforts which will allow them to take action without violating the law."

Among those commands, the Salvadoran Armed Forces (FAES) have deployed various Military units to reinforce security in the most violent municipalities, along the borders and the communities on the outskirts of penitentiaries. Their mission is to detect movements by criminal groups or individual criminals that could affect public order.

“The FAES currently performs patrol, review, and detection operations to fight trafficking in weapons, persons, and drugs at different points throughout the country, in support of the PNC. So, what we learn in this workshop will help us in both judicial and legal contexts, to know how to take action without violating individuals’ rights while we conduct these operations,” said FAES Second Lieutenant Kevin Solís Méndez.

The service members participating in the workshop also received training on the basic concepts of international law, human rights, the treatment of prisoners, and Codes of Conduct for law enforcement officers.

Protecting victims


During some of the seminars, Officers described success stories and engaged in simulated exercises. The latter training that helps Soldiers gain the trust of crime victims and improves the security of Troops, said Captain Charles Calderón, a representative from the Honduras Armed Forces (FAH).

“The training we received supports us in strengthening public order and assures the civilian population that our Troops have been trained and can perform their duties efficiently in support of the PNC.”

Captain Hamlet Rivera Espino, a representative from the Guatemalan Armed Forces, said he was anxious to share the knowledge he'd gained at the seminars regarding defending civilian populations while protecting human rights.

“These simulations allow us to work on how to apply the concepts in the defense of civilians, and they underscore how important a decision can be in public security efforts affecting civilians. Now we are better able to perform our duties and we have awoken an interest in these functions.”

Spreading the knowledge


ICRC officials said the participation of Officers in the workshops is of vital importance since they are the ones who will be responsible for sharing the knowledge they have acquired with their Troops, as well as other service members involved in public security efforts.

The Officers “now have the essential knowledge needed to make the right decision on employing weapons or using force in operations to maintain public order and protecting the rights of the civilian population above all,” explained Miguel Ramírez González, a delegate from the ICRC. “We know that we have trained the trainers, who will spread their knowledge and bring these same lessons to their units.”

Defense Minister Munguía Payés added that this sort of training is developed within the framework of the Central American Armed Forces Conference (CFAC), which always seeks to enrich knowledge in international humanitarian law, strengthening the friendly relations and mutual cooperation among the armed forces.

“This is the first region-wide course to facilitate the application of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in the Armed Forces’ new role.”



A group of Armed Forces officers from Central America and the Dominican Republic recently participated in a practical workshop directed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on defending the human rights of civilian populations during military operations against organized crime.

During the training, which took place in San Salvador from April 6-17, service members shared their experiences on protecting human rights while using force and firearms to combat violent criminals, according to Salvadoran Minister of Defense Major General David Munguía Payés.

"The Armed Forces have special commands that support the National Civil Police [PNC] that have come for training on international law standards that apply to day-to-day public security efforts which will allow them to take action without violating the law."

Among those commands, the Salvadoran Armed Forces (FAES) have deployed various Military units to reinforce security in the most violent municipalities, along the borders and the communities on the outskirts of penitentiaries. Their mission is to detect movements by criminal groups or individual criminals that could affect public order.

“The FAES currently performs patrol, review, and detection operations to fight trafficking in weapons, persons, and drugs at different points throughout the country, in support of the PNC. So, what we learn in this workshop will help us in both judicial and legal contexts, to know how to take action without violating individuals’ rights while we conduct these operations,” said FAES Second Lieutenant Kevin Solís Méndez.

The service members participating in the workshop also received training on the basic concepts of international law, human rights, the treatment of prisoners, and Codes of Conduct for law enforcement officers.

Protecting victims


During some of the seminars, Officers described success stories and engaged in simulated exercises. The latter training that helps Soldiers gain the trust of crime victims and improves the security of Troops, said Captain Charles Calderón, a representative from the Honduras Armed Forces (FAH).

“The training we received supports us in strengthening public order and assures the civilian population that our Troops have been trained and can perform their duties efficiently in support of the PNC.”

Captain Hamlet Rivera Espino, a representative from the Guatemalan Armed Forces, said he was anxious to share the knowledge he'd gained at the seminars regarding defending civilian populations while protecting human rights.

“These simulations allow us to work on how to apply the concepts in the defense of civilians, and they underscore how important a decision can be in public security efforts affecting civilians. Now we are better able to perform our duties and we have awoken an interest in these functions.”

Spreading the knowledge


ICRC officials said the participation of Officers in the workshops is of vital importance since they are the ones who will be responsible for sharing the knowledge they have acquired with their Troops, as well as other service members involved in public security efforts.

The Officers “now have the essential knowledge needed to make the right decision on employing weapons or using force in operations to maintain public order and protecting the rights of the civilian population above all,” explained Miguel Ramírez González, a delegate from the ICRC. “We know that we have trained the trainers, who will spread their knowledge and bring these same lessons to their units.”

Defense Minister Munguía Payés added that this sort of training is developed within the framework of the Central American Armed Forces Conference (CFAC), which always seeks to enrich knowledge in international humanitarian law, strengthening the friendly relations and mutual cooperation among the armed forces.

“This is the first region-wide course to facilitate the application of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in the Armed Forces’ new role.”
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