El Salvador supreme court rules street gangs are terrorist groups

[JURIST] El Salvador's Supreme Court [official website] ruled [press release, PDF, in Spanish] Monday that the country's street gangs and those who support them financially will now be classified as terrorist groups. The ruling was made as part of a denial [AP report] of attempts to challenge the constitutionality of the El Salvador's Special Law Against Terrorist Acts [text, PDF]. The court defined terrorism as the "organized and systematic exercise of violence," placing any gang which attempts to claim state powers in that category. The freezing of funds belonging to those tied to terrorist groups was also deemed constitutional by the court.

El Salvador has faced many controversial issues in recent years. In April the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador approved a measure [JURIST report] to amend the constitution to limit marriage and adoption to couples with only one man and one woman. In March a former El Salvadoran Defense Minister accused of human rights abuses during the country's 1980s civil war was taken into US immigration custody [JURIST report] and set to be deported back to El Salvador. In January a group of UN human rights experts urged El Salvador to pardon all women jailed for illegal abortions as a result of pregnancy complications of rape after the Supreme Court refused to reconsider [JURIST reports] the country's complete ban on abortions in 2013. Also in January UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon joined El Salvador in a ceremony commemorating the twenty-third anniversary of the signing of the Chapultepec Peace Accords.

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