Human rights group Amnesty International has accused authorities in El Salvador of committing “massive” human rights violations in a sweeping security crackdown.
In its report released on June 2, Amnesty International said that Salvadoran authorities committed thousands of arbitrary detentions and violations of due process, torture, and ill-treatment since President Nayib Bukele declared a state of emergency in March following a series of homicides allegedly committed by gangs.
At least 18 people have died in state custody as of May 28, according to Amnesty International.
The group warns that the death toll could rise in the coming days “given the precarious prison conditions” in the Central American country.
Salvadoran authorities have arrested over 35,000 people in less than three months and Amnesty International reported that the arrests are often based on people’s appearance such as the presence of tattoos, unfounded accusations, being related to a gang member, having a previous criminal record, or living in a gang-controlled area.
Amnesty International also reported mass hearings of up to 500 detainees charged at the time and majority of which are prosecuted in the absence of any evidence.
“Instead of offering an effective response to the dramatic violence caused by gangs and the historic public security challenges facing the country, they are subjecting the Salvadoran people to a tragedy. Victims of gang violence urgently deserve justice, but this can only be achieved through robust investigations and fair trials that ensure due process and effective sentencing,” Amnesty International Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas said.
Guevara-Rosas called on Bukele’s government to “immediately reverse the recent measures that violate human rights and to establish a dialogue with national and international civil society organizations and international human rights protection mechanisms in order to establish a public security policy that is effective and respects human rights.”
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