On August 28, a 17-year-old citizen of El Salvador became the country's first person to be sentenced for "acts of terrorism" on account of his association with alleged gang activity, the Spanish news agency EFE reported. Identified only as Antonio N, the teenager was accused of attacking a group of police with a handmade weapon.
In El Salvador, it is customary to refrain from publishing the full names of minors charged with crimes, but classifying them as terrorists is apparently acceptable.
The case was a litmus test for a new ruling. Four days prior to Antonio N's sentencing, the Salvadoran Supreme Court had decreed that gang membership was now punishable under the 2006 Special Law Against Acts of Terrorism, which can set prison sentences of up to 60 years.
The law has been trotted out on various occasions. A former administrationused it to charge protesters at a 2007 demonstration against the privatisation of water systems. In this case, "terrorism" amounted to blocking roads and throwing stones.
Following the new supreme court decision, both the state and police have been having a field day with additional arrests. Last month, 231 people were taken into custody at a dance party in the city of Apopa, north of the capital San Salvador, where, the Salvadoran online newspaper La Pagina reported, the musical entertainment had included songs "alluding to gangs". READ MORE AT AL JAZEERA ENGLISH.