the NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) has denounced this Wednesday that the security forces of El Salvador are committing widespread Human Rights abuses since the adoption of the state of emergency against gang violence in March of this year.
A report published this Wednesday together with the Salvadoran organization in defense of Human Rights Christosal it documents arbitrary mass detentions and torture, as well as deaths in custody or enforced disappearances.
“Salvadoran security forces have mistreated vulnerable communities with widespread human rights violations in the name of public safety,” he lamented. Juanita Goebertusdirector for the Americas of HRW.
“To put an end to gang violence and Human Rights violations, the Government of The Savior must replace the state of emergency with an effective and rights-respecting security policy that gives Salvadorans the security they deserve so much,” added the regional director of the NGO.
They have also criticized that the country’s president, Nayib Bukelehas publicly supported the security forces, promoting “dehumanizing rhetoric against detainees and their families.”
They have also noted that there are reasons to question the effectiveness of these measures, as gangs have in the past taken advantage of mass incarceration to recruit new members.
HRW and Cristosal have interviewed more than 1,100 people, including victims of abuse, family members, lawyers, witnesses and government officials. With this documentation, the organizations have discovered that agents have repeatedly committed similar violations in different parts of the country.
In many cases, arrests appear to be based on the appearance and social origin of the detainees, sometimes without search or arrest warrants.
In addition, the NGO accuses the authorities of El Salvador of committing forced disappearances according to the International rightas they have reported numerous cases in which officers have refused to provide information on the whereabouts of detainees.
Overcrowding in prisons
Police and soldiers have carried out hundreds of raids, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, since the state of emergency was adopted. The authorities have arrested more than 58,000 peopleof which more than 1,600 have been children.
Thus, the prison population has increased in nine months from 39,000 to 95,000 people, more than triple the official capacity, criticize human rights organizations. In this context, at least 90 people have died in police custody in circumstances that have not yet been investigated.
For this reason, HRW and Cristasol have urged the country’s authorities to adopt rights-respecting measures to dismantle gangs and protect the population.
Along these lines, the organizations have asked United States and the European Unionas well as the governments of Latin America, to generate multilateral pressure.
“The international community must redouble your efforts to help ensure Salvadorans are safe from heinous gang crimes, human rights violations by security forces, and other abuses of power,” Goebertus added.
Beyond this, they have asked financial institutions to suspend loans that benefit government agencies that are involved in the aforementioned abuses, such as the National Police, the Armed Forces, the Public ministry and the prison system.