Latin America and the Caribbean

17 July 1996

Salvadoran Street Children Want Killings Probed
by John Mehaffey

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (Reuter) - Street children and a group formed to protect them called on Salvadoran authorities Wednesday to investigate nine execution-style murders committed since April 1995.

The street children, many addicted to sniffing glue, took part in a church vigil in central San Salvador alongside representatives of the Olof Palme Foundation for the Protection of Children.

The foundation said nine homeless youths between the ages of 10 and 18 had been killed in the last 15 months. "They are always shot in the head and neck, and they are real executions," foundation director Ricardo Quinonez said. "They are done in daytime and with total impunity on the part of those doing it."

Quinonez said his group had presented witnesses and other information to authorities, "but we don't know why these investigations haven' t advanced."

He attributed the crimes to "private vigilantes" interested in "cleaning the streets" of undesirables. One of the estimated 500 Salvadoran childen who roam the streets of the capital spoke at the vigil. "We're not bad-hearted toward our fellow man," the teen-ager said. "But there are people who hate us and everything, maybe because we' re 'druggies' or because we steal because we need to.

"We want to change," he said. "We need work and help instead of a beating or a bullet."

Copyright 1996 Reuters Ltd. All rights reserved. The above news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, without the prior written consent of Reuters Ltd.

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