El Salvador Rights Groups Cite at least 338 Human Rights Violations in Gang Crackdown
May 6, 2022
Cited article by Al Jazeera
HRRC condemns the human rights violations occurring under the direction of the El Salvadoran government in its targeting of alleged gang members. The implementation of arrest quotas and overly aggressive tactics to address criminality causes significant collateral damage to civilians, and erodes trust in the government and criminal justice agencies.
Five rights groups in El Salvador have stated that at least 338 human rights violations have been reported since the government imposed a state of emergency in late March. The state of emergency is justified as an effort to crack down on gangs in response to 62 killings over a single weekend, allegedly committed by gang members. Since the state of emergency took effect, arbitrary arrests have been the most commonly reported rights abuse. Additionally, many reports claim that "illegal searches of homes, injuries, robbery and the death of a detainee". Most cases involved men ages 18 to 30.
It is estimated that 24,000 gang members have been arrested during the government's increased efforts to tackle gang violence. However, as of May 1st, only 10,885 have been ordered to remain in police custody pending trials. Reports indicate that police have arrest quotas, adding further pressure to increase arrests. Prior to the crackdown, the prison system in El Salvador was at 136% capacity, and now gang members in these prisons are on reduced food rations and not provided mattresses. The issues amid the state of emergency are exacerbated due to authorization of 10-15 years in prison for news media producing or sharing specific messages or images in relation to gangs.