El Salvador to Open US-Funded Wiretapping Center

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A new US-sponsored wiretapping center will begin operations next month in El Salvador, aimed at stepping up efforts against crime in the country.

The Center of Telecommunications Tapping (CITE), backed by a donation of more than $5 million from the US, will open in San Salvador in May, carrying out wiretaps and monitoring emails, reports the AFP.

Evidence gathered from wiretaps can be used in court thanks to a law passed in February 2010. The center was supposed to be set up in September of the same year, but financial constraints meant it was delayed for over 18 months, according to prosecutors.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) will help train Salvadoran officials, including police and magistrates, in wiretapping operations, stated El Salvador’s Attorney General Romeo Barahona. The funds provided by the US will come through the Central America Regional Security Initiative (CARSI).

InSight Crime Analysis

The US has been pushing “intelligence-led policing” in Central America over recent years, advocating wiretapping operations across the region, according to a February 2012 US Congress report. With the passing of a wiretapping law in Honduras late last year, all seven Central American countries now have legislation in place that allows the practice.

The US had been pushing especially hard for such a law to be passed in El Salvador, it seems, with a leaked diplomatic cable revealing that “intense engagement” by US officials over a two-year period helped break a legislative deadlock over the new law.

As well as being admissible in El Salvador’s courts, evidence gathered from CITE operations can also be used in the US thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the two countries in January 2011.

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