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  • Human Rights Research Center

El Salvador Combatting Gangs at the Cost of Human Rights

February 21, 2023

[Image Source: Marvin Recinos/AFP/Getty Images]

Cited article by Jaime Quintanilla and Tom Phillips, The Guardian

HRRC is concerned over the harsh methods used to quell gangs in El Salvador. While the results have demonstrated a significant reduction in violence in the country, the methods used could lead to an overly authoritarian government. HRRC urges the El Salvadoran government to prioritize rights and freedoms of the people now that gang violence is down.

Article Summary

The populist leader Nayib Bukele has conducted a harsh campaign against gangs in El Salvador. Reports indicate that streets where gangs warred against each other are now safe and peaceful. The crackdown resulted in approximately 64,000 arrests and the murder rate in the country has drastically decreased. However, thousands of people may have been wrongfully arrested.

Since taking power in 2019, critics claim Bukele has been systematically dismantling democratic institutions in the country and eroding the rule of law and civil liberties. Experts also state there are unanswered questions regarding how the gangs in El Salvador were dismantled. There are additional concerns over the overcrowding of prisons. Many fear that the severe crackdown on gangs will lead to an overly authoritarian government in the coming years.


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