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El Salvador

Capital

San Salvador

Territory

20,720km²

Population (2020)

6,486,201

GDP Total (2020)

24.64B USD

GDP Per Capita (2020)

3,799 USD

Icome Group

Lower middle income

Convention Implementation

51.5
In progress

Western Hemisphere Ranking

60.7

24th of 31 countries

Central America Ranking

65.0

8th of 8 countries

Corruption Resilience

52.7
Moderately Resilient

Western Hemisphere Ranking

54.4

20th of 31 countries

Central America Ranking

50.3

4th of 8 countries

Convention Implementation

Score by thematic sections and measures

Prevention

Core-deficient
41.

Western Hemisphere 46.3

Central America 50.9

Standards of Conduct

In progress
50

Western Hemisphere 42.8

Central America 59.8

Enforcement of Standards of Conduct

In progress
62.5

Western Hemisphere 50.6

Central America 62.1

Training of Public Officials

Core-deficient
35.9

Western Hemisphere 36.8

Central America 38.0

Asset and Conflicts of Interests Declarations

In progress
43.7

Western Hemisphere 42.3

Central America 57.0

Transparency in Government Contracting

Core-deficient
29.6

Western Hemisphere 33.1

Central America 36.6

Elimination of Favorable Tax Treatment

In progress
62.5

Western Hemisphere 47.1

Central America 65.1

Oversight Bodies

Core-deficient
31.2

Western Hemisphere 36.0

Central America 36.0

Measures to Deter Domestic and Foreign Bribery

In progress
43.7

Western Hemisphere 36.7

Central America 53.9

Encouraging Participation by Civil Society

In progress
54.6

Western Hemisphere 43.0

Central America 58.1

Study of Other Prevention Measures

Not Implemented
0

Western Hemisphere 44.9

Central America 42.9

Criminalization and law enforcement

In progress
50.6

Western Hemisphere 61.1

Central America 65.0

Protection of Those who Report Acts of Corruption

Core-deficient
40.6

Western Hemisphere 30.7

Central America 42.1

Scope

Core-deficient
35.9

Western Hemisphere 67.7

Central America 75.9

Jurisdiction: Offense-in-Territory

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 74.6

Central America 90.0

Jurisdiction: Offense-by-National

In progress
64.0

Western Hemisphere 51.9

Central America 69.8

Jurisdiction: Offender-in-Territory

Not Implemented
0

Western Hemisphere 58.8

Central America 55.0

Passive Public Bribery

Core-deficient
40.6

Western Hemisphere 55.8

Central America 56.7

Active Public Bribery

Core-deficient
40.6

Western Hemisphere 56.4

Central America 59.1

Abuse of Functions

In progress
50.7

Western Hemisphere 47.0

Central America 57.7

Money Laundering

Core-deficient
40.6

Western Hemisphere 55.8

Central America 54.2

Participation and Attempt

In progress
50.7

Western Hemisphere 58.4

Central America 67.1

Active Foreign Bribery

In progress
50.7

Western Hemisphere 39.0

Central America 51.7

Illicit Enrichment

In progress
53.1

Western Hemisphere 54.7

Central America 69.8

Use of State Property

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 79.5

Central America 87.6

Illicit Acquisition of a Benefit

Core-deficient
35.9

Western Hemisphere 52.1

Central America 62.5

Public Embezzlement

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 77.6

Central America 87.6

Passive Foreign Bribery

Not Implemented
0

Western Hemisphere 25.6

Central America 33.9

Private Bribery

Not Implemented
0

Western Hemisphere 22.7

Central America 18.5

Private Embezzlement

Implemented
71.8

Western Hemisphere 64.7

Central America 63.2

Obstruction of Justice

Core-deficient
35.9

Western Hemisphere 71.4

Central America 74.0

Liability of Legal Persons

In progress
64.0

Western Hemisphere 61.3

Central America 61.0

Statute of Limitations

Implemented
71.8

Western Hemisphere 79.6

Central America 87.6

Prosecution, Adjudication and Sanctions

In progress
54.6

Western Hemisphere 69.5

Central America 75.5

Consequences and Compensation

Not Implemented
0

Western Hemisphere 70.3

Central America 73.4

Cooperation With Law Enforcement

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 72.2

Central America 79.2

Asset Recovery

In progress
64.0

Western Hemisphere 66.4

Central America 72.7

International cooperation

In progress
59.6

Western Hemisphere 68.9

Central America 74.5

Assistance Without Criminalization

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 79.8

Central America 89.0

Inclusion in Extradition Treaties

In progress
47.6

Western Hemisphere 55.1

Central America 55.8

Convention as Legal Basis for Extradition

Not Implemented
0

Western Hemisphere 47.5

Central America 57.6

Automatic Application Without Treaty

Core-deficient
42.9

Western Hemisphere 52.7

Central America 54.4

Prosecution Without Extradition

Not Implemented
0

Western Hemisphere 57.2

Central America 55.8

Custody

In progress
57.8

Western Hemisphere 73.4

Central America 79.1

Assistance

In progress
59.3

Western Hemisphere 58.0

Central America 58.9

Impossibility of Claiming Bank Secrecy

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 84.0

Central America 98.2

Limited Use of Information

Implemented
78.1

Western Hemisphere 82.6

Central America 88.0

Nature of Act

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 84.3

Central America 97.8

Designate Central Authorities

In progress
50

Western Hemisphere 75.9

Central America 90.2

Responsibilities of Central Authorities

In progress
57.8

Western Hemisphere 71.5

Central America 72.7

Communication Between Central Authorities

In progress
57.8

Western Hemisphere 67.3

Central America 73.6

Special Investigative Techniques

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 56.9

Central America 75.7

Technical Cooperation

In progress
57.8

Western Hemisphere 62.8

Central America 69.9

Anti-corruption conventions timeline

199619971998199920002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016201720182019202020212022

Conventions

  • IACAC - Inter-American Convention Against Corruption
  • UNCAC - United Nations Convention against Corruption
  • OECD Anti-Bribery Convention

Key events

  • Signed
  • Ratifed / acceded
  • Review rounds

Convention Implementation Analysis

El Salvador signed the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC) on March 29, 1996, and ratified it on October 26, 1998. It is a State Party to the Follow-Up Mechanism for the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) since June 4, 2001. The country also signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) on December 10, 2003, and subsequently ratified it on July 1, 2004. Accordingly, El Salvador has undergone five rounds of review under MESICIC, and one round of review under the UNCAC review mechanism.

El Salvador’s record in implementing its commitments to IACAC and UNCAC exhibits a large number of failures and very few successes, with almost half of all measures committed to found to be deficient at core or unimplemented. With an overall score of 51.5, the measures adopted place the country in the lower level of compliance with international norms, surrounded by Grenada (50.8), Trinidad and Tobago (51.1), Dominican Republic (55.7), and Belize (58.1). Despite achieving higher success in regard to criminalization and international cooperation (as is the case throughout the region) the difference is not large enough to deserve attention for unequal distribution: prevention receives a score of 36.0, while criminalization and law enforcement receives 50.7—the largest among the three sections—and international cooperation 49.3. Therefore, it may be said that El Salvador’s efforts are generally lacking across the range of measures required by the conventions.

The prevention of corruption is significantly deficient, classified as “core-deficient” and with the majority of measures found to be deficient, including transparency in government contracting (29.7), the state of oversight bodies (31.3), the training of public officials (35.9), among others. Furthermore, the study of preventive measures related to equitable compensation is considered to be fully missing. Within this section, only three measures reach the classification of “in progress”: standards of conduct (50.0) and their enforcement (62.5), the initiatives to encourage the participation of civil society (54.7), and the elimination of favorable tax treatment for corrupt expenditure (62.5).

In terms of criminalization and law enforcement, El Salvador shows better results than those regarding prevention—yet, significant deficiencies remain, with almost half of all of measures within this section classified as core-deficient or not implemented. The country is found to have successfully implemented only one key commitment—actions to control embezzlement in the public sector—whereas significant measures are found completely lacking—the criminalization of passive bribery of foreign officials and bribery in the private sector, as well as establishing broader consequences—such as the rescinding of contracts and obtaining compensation—for the commitment of corrupt offenses (all three of which are required by UNCAC). Other measures are found deficient at core, including those pertaining to the illicit acquisition of a benefit (i.e., influence trading), the obstruction of justice, the protection of those who report acts of corruption (i.e., whistleblower protection), active and passive bribery in the public sector, and money laundering.

El Salvador’s record in promoting and engaging with international cooperation is somewhat lackluster as well, but achieving an average section score higher than that for criminalization and law enforcement (discussed in the previous paragraph). Among the few highlights identified here, the country is found compliant in its commitments to provide assistance without criminalization, the impossibility of invoking bank secrecy when considering a request for international assistance, and the regulation and application of special investigative techniques—such as electronic surveillance, undercover operations, etc.—and others. On the other hand, measures related to extradition are severely deficient, not least due to the fact that El Salvador does not recognize UNCAC as a legal basis for extradition and requires dual criminality. In this regard, the UNCAC review mechanism reports that “[t]he extradition of nationals is generally not permitted unless El Salvador has concluded a treaty that provides specifically for such extradition and stipulates reciprocity as a requirement.”

Corruption Resilience

Score by indicator

Social Context

Moderately Resilient
61.6

Western Hemisphere 64.8

Central America 59.7

Quality of Government

Moderately Resilient
58.3

Western Hemisphere 50.6

Central America 47.3

Rule of Law

Moderately Resilient
46.7

Western Hemisphere 51.1

Central America 43.5

Business Stability

Moderately Resilient
49.1

Western Hemisphere 50.5

Central America 51.6

Violence & Security

Moderately Resilient
47.7

Western Hemisphere 55.0

Central America 49.1

Corruption Resilience score over the time

Analysis

El Salvador's social context indicator declined by 6.31 points from the previous year—resulting in a score of 61.31 for 2020. The country's score falls below the Western Hemisphere regional average of 64.89 by 3.26 points. Since 2011, El Salvador's score has been steadily declining by approximately 2 points annually until 2018, when it started to see a slight increase in its score. The highest score that El Salvador has achieved for the social context indicator was in 2011 with 69.74. Within El Salvador, both political rights and civil liberties are respected and protected by a constitutional guarantee. Despite these guarantees for press freedom, the media still faces harassment, threats, and restrictions, particularly when investigating and reporting sensitive issues such as corruption and government financial activities. Since President Nayib Bukele took office in 2019, the media's freedom has been restricted, particularly those critical of the government and its current administration.

With regard to quality of government indicator, for El Salvador’s score increased by 0.71 points from the previous year. The country’s score surpassed the Western Hemisphere regional average by 7.71 points and fell within the 75th percentile for the indicator. Throughout the decade, the country's score varied, where its highest score was achieved in 2014 with 61.52, and its lowest score was 57.0 in 2018. El Salvador's indicators score for 2020 was mainly attributed to widespread corruption and an inefficient system of governance.

El Salvador's rule of law indicator increased by 0.12 points from the previous year—resulting in a score of 46.74 for 2020. Despite the increase from the previous year, the country's score is 4.41 points below the Western Hemisphere regional average of 51.15. The decade range for El Salvador is 3.94 points, and El Salvador's highest score for the decade was 49.12 in 2014. The country's rule of law score for 2020 was largely influenced by a lack of judicial independence, as it remains susceptible to political pressure and corruption. In 2020, for example, President Bukele defied court orders on several occasions, particularly disregarding court orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The country's business stability indicator declined by 2.30 points from the previous year—resulting in a score of 49.16 for 2020—which falls below the Western Hemisphere regional average of 50.53 by 1.37 points. Throughout the decade, the country's indicator has varied, where it achieved the highest score in 2010 with 59.03 and its lowest score in 2020. The overall decade range for the business stability indicator is 11.29. The country's indicator score is mainly attributed to widespread corruption and the lack of private sector policies.

El Salvador's violence and security indicator for 2020 increased from the previous year. Notwithstanding, the country's indicator score is below the Western Hemisphere average of 55.04 by 7.30 points. On a positive note, the country's indicator score has improved since 2010, gradually increasing from 29.20 toward its highest score of 47.74 in 2020. The decade range for the violence and security indicator is 18.54. El Salvador's indicator score is primarily affected by the country’s status as a major transit point for drug trafficking within Central America.