El Salvador records more than 19,000 arrests during state of emergency

Familiares dos supostos

Family members of alleged “gang members” react during the transfer of detainees to a prison| Photo: EFE/ Rodrigo Sura

In 15 days, El Salvador has arrested more than 19 a thousand alleged gang members under an exception regime that will continue until the end of May, after the approval of its extension in Congress. This Wednesday (15) marks the first 30 days of the measure, which Amnesty International called a “perfect storm of violations of human rights”.

The Legislature has granted special powers to the government of President Nayib Bukele in late March to launch his “war on gangs”. The state of emergency was a response to a wave of murders that in three days took the life of 62 people. They were 62 killed in just one day, the highest number in the country’s recent history .

The government of Bukele indicated in the extension request that, despite having controlled the wave of murders, it was necessary to extend the suspension of constitutional rights due to the number of gang members at large. With the approval, the rights of association and assembly, of defense in case of arrest, are suspended until the end of May, and the administrative detention is changed from a maximum period of 3 days to 15 days.

AI director for the Americas, Erika Guevara Rosas, said in a statement from the NGO that “in recent 30 days, the Bukele government trampled on all the rights of the Salvadoran people”.

“From legal reforms that flout international standards, to mass arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment to the detainees, the Salvadoran authorities created a perfect storm of human rights violations, which must now continue with the extension of the emergency decree”, he said.

She recalled that in the exceptional regime, penal reforms were approved with which “children among the 05 and the 10 years are subject to penalties of imprisonment up to years”.

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