NGOs report more than 300 human rights violations in El Salvador

Five social organizations documented more than 300 complaints of human rights violations in the first month of the emergency regime decreed at the request of President Nayib Bukele to combat the maras or gangs, which they blame for a wave of murders recorded in recent days. March in El Salvador.

The Non-Governmental Organizations Cristosal, Foundation of Studies for the Application of Law (FESPAD), Passionist Social Service (SPASS), Azul Originario (AZO) and the Human Rights Institute of the UCA (Idhuca) indicated in a press release that they have documented 338 complaints.

According to the information, the violation that has been reported the most is arbitrary detention, which would represent in some organizations more than 70% of the cases received, followed by raids on homes, injuries, robbery and even the death of a detained person, in the case of Cristosal.

The state of emergency limits freedom of association, suspends the right of a person to be duly informed of their rights and reasons for arrest and the assistance of a lawyer. In addition, it extends the period of administrative detention from 72 hours to 15 days and allows the authorities to seize the correspondence and cell phones of those they consider suspicious.

The measures promoted by El Salvador to combat the gangs have been widely defended by the government, while some journalists, activists and members of the international community have questioned them, considering that they open the door to human rights violations.

According to official information, as of May 3, the security forces had captured 24,071 suspected gang members. The courts of justice decreed the preventive detention of more than 10,000 defendants. The authorities have also confirmed the capture of six of the 15 leaders that make up the “Ranfla Nacional” (national leadership), of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).

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Most of the complaints of human rights violations come from the metropolitan area of ​​San Salvador and the paracentral zone of the country. However, the NGOs say that there is at least one case in each of the 14 departments. Most of the victims are men between the ages of 18 and 30, the organizations add.

Starting on March 27 and hours before Congress approved the state of emergency, heavily armed police and military units broke into low-income neighborhoods and communities, alleged gang strongholds, and without explanation went from door to door. dragging out numerous young people. They also blocked the entrances with barbed wire, decided who went in and out, and demanded identification.

A report by Human Rights Watch and Cristosal warns that it is very likely that the volume of arrests has exacerbated prison overcrowding in the country. In December, Salvadoran prisons were already operating at 136% of their capacity. On April 19, Congress passed a law to build new prisons to house gang members.

On April 24, Congress extended for 30 days the validity of the emergency regime, which allows combined forces of police and soldiers, without a court order, to continue capturing alleged members or collaborators of gangs that have a presence in populous neighborhoods in the country and that They are involved in drug trafficking and organized crime. The gangs also extort merchants and transport companies and kill those who refuse to pay, according to authorities.

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