Human rights groups have accused the government of arbitrary arrests and violations of due process during the two-month crackdown.
Lawmakers in El Salvador have expanded a state of emergency backed by President Nayib Bukele for a third month amid a campaign to crack down on widespread gang violence.
The 67 members of the Latin American nation’s 84-seat legislature voted Wednesday for a 30-day extension of emergency powers, first approved in March after a increase in homicides including 62 murders in a 24-hour period.
The measure has been accompanied by a new set of anti-gang rights groups that say infringement of rights of the country’s 6.5 million citizens.
On Wednesday, Bukele’s security minister, Gustavo Villatoro, said the government’s “war” on gangs would continue, even as the murder rate has plummeted since the persecution begins.
“This fight will continue as long as necessary and to the extent that the public continues to demand it,” Villatoro said. “We will continue to confront this cancer, and we have said it before and we wait for it, this fight will continue until the gangs are wiped out from El territory. Salvadoran.”
The emergency measures limit free assembly, limit the right to be informed of the reasons for an arrest and access to a lawyer, and allow for up to 15 days of detention without charge.
Bukele used emergency powers to rounding about 34,500 suspected gang members since the end of March, but rights groups and resident indicates an arbitrary number of prisoners, with many being targeted based on their appearance or where they live.
In early May, Human Rights Watch and the human rights group Cristosal said they had “received credible allegations of dozens of arbitrary arrests, some of which could lead to violent crimes.” short-term forced disappearance and two deaths of detainees”.
Meanwhile, legislation passed since the state of emergency was first passed include laws that would extend sentences for gang-related crimes and reduce the age of criminal responsibility. down 12.
They also include a law allowing prison sentences of 10 to 15 years for news media to copy or disseminate messages from gangs, a move that rights groups say obstructing press freedom and gang tracking groups.
According to the report, the population growth in prisons in the country has led authorities to force inmates to reduce rations and deny them mattresses.
However, polls have shown support for the crackdown, with many residents saying they are tired of the violence in the country, where the murder rate regularly ranks among the highest in the world. gender.
Gangs have long controlled large swaths of territory, forcing thousands to emigrate for fear of their lives or being recruited.
The power of the gangs is strongest in the poorest neighborhoods of the country, where the state has long been absent.