Monday, June 17, 2024

At Least 150 People Jailed Under El Salvador’s Emergency Powers Have Died

At least 153 people who were jailed in San Salvador, El Salvador have died in state custody. These prisoners were detained when El Salvador instituted emergency powers in March 2022 to control the country’s powerful street gangs. None of those who died had been convicted of a crime they were accused of at the time of their arrest.

The deaths were the result of torture and systematic and severe injuries, the report said. Nearly half of the victims suffered violent casualties. Some of the deaths showed signs they resulted from deliberate denial of medical assistance, medicine, and food, including some deaths resulting from malnutrition.

The government has not provided an official count of deaths among the incarcerated.

The special powers– approved by El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly– suspend fundamental rights, such as informing someone of their rights at the time of arrest and having access to a lawyer.  Officially, the government has arrested more than 68,000 people under the special powers since March 2022. More than 5,000 people have been freed because the government could not convince a judge that they were tied to criminal structures.

Cristosal, a human rights group, said it compiled the information through fieldwork and collecting documents from medical examiners. Investigators also interviewed victims’ families, neighbors, and others who were jailed and later released.

The organization called on the administration of President Nayib Bukele to answer about the conditions people are held under, respect due process, free the innocent, give answers regarding those who have died, provide all available information to victims’ families, and end the measures implemented under the special powers.

Other human rights groups and foreign governments have condemned the government’s actions and called for the lifting of what were supposed to be temporary measures.

NBC News