Violence is an obstacle to development in Central America and a significant cause of poverty. The region has high rates of crime and violence, predominantly driven by drug trafficking, youth violence and gangs, and the widespread availability of firearms. Gender-based violence and ‘femicide’ are also prevalent in Central America. Meanwhile, young people are often the victims of targeted acts of murder, and as a group, they are stigmatised, excluded from development opportunities and denied their essential rights to education and employment: this is due to a perception that all young people are involved in violent gangs.  Christian Aid works to protect vulnerable people from violence, to identify and challenge its causes and to transform conflict through peaceful methods. Their programme supports violence prevention and human rights initiatives, including the promotion of dialogue between citizens, governments and the private sector.

These initiatives give people the power to demand more inclusive policies and practices from the state and businesses. They also aim to secure a stronger guarantee that human rights will be respected, particularly for women and young people. Partners operate on two levels to protect the rights of the most vulnerable people: they monitor the human rights situation on the ground and review the legal institutional framework for evidence of any abuse or denial of these rights. This information is used to lobby for change and for the creation of a legal framework that upholds human rights.

Christian Aid partner Centro Internacional para Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos (CIIDH) aims to restore the dignity of people who suffered human rights violations during Guatemala’s armed conflict. CIIDH supports the National Movement of Victims to demand legislation that would create a national commission for the victims of forced disappearance and other forms of disappearance.

The work undertaken with young people includes building trust within their communities and gaining support from local municipal authorities, so that young people are recognised as valid spokespeople and are guaranteed participation in civic spaces. Some partners monitor human rights and produce reports on the situation through participative processes. Others work with grassroots organisations and communities on the development of local initiatives to promote youth participation or to prevent violence, including against women. All partners are influencing the policies and practices of public institutions, to address and transform the causes of violence. ​

David Wiggs

Author: David Wiggs

I am the webmaster for Purley United Reformed Church and have been involved with the church since my late teens. I work in Croydon and live in Caterham.

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