Amnesty International Accuses El Salvador of Human Rights Violations during the State of Exception

Over 66,000 arrested during the Bukele security measure.

By Eddie Galdamez  |  Apr 5th, 2023
Amnesty International El SalvadorSalvadoran Police Officers.

A year into the State of Exception security measure implemented by the Bukele administration, Amnesty International accused the El Salvador government of the systematic, massive, and sustained violation of the human rights of the Salvadoran population.

President Nayib Bukele, via his Security Cabinet, requested the State of Exception after a homicide spike in late March 2022. Salvadoran Legislators approved Bukele’s request and have repeatedly extended it, most recently last month. The policy has allowed the detention and imprisonment of more than 66,000 people.

According to Amnesty International:

Salvadoran authorities have systematically committed grave human rights violations since a state of emergency and numerous legislative amendments were approved in March 2022, supposedly to tackle gangs, said Amnesty International today.

This policy has resulted in more than 66,000 detentions, most of them arbitrary; ill-treatment and torture; flagrant violations of due process; enforced disappearances; and the deaths in state custody of at least 132 people who at the time of their deaths had not been found guilty of any crime.

Key to the commission of these human rights violations has been the coordination and collusion of the three branches of government; the putting in place of a legal framework contrary to international human rights standards, specifically with regard to criminal proceedings; and the failure to adopt measures to prevent systematic human rights violations under a state of emergency.

Erika Guevara Rosas, Amnesty America’s director and a critic of the Bukele administration, stated that “the international community is alert to the grave human rights consequences of the state of emergency in El Salvador.”

The systematic violation of human rights and the dismantling of the rule of law are not the answer to the problems facing the country. On the contrary, they set very dangerous precedents. Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

Amnesty International accuses Salvadoran authorities of criminal prosecution and indiscriminate imprisonment; torture and arbitrary deaths in state custody; inhuman treatment of individuals arrested, and prison overcrowding.

Amnesty is not the only human rights organization voicing concern about El Salvador’s security measures. Human Rights Watch and Cristosal have also provided reports regarding abuses during the State of Exception. They have asked Latin American leaders to condemn President Bukele’s actions.

Salvadorans approve of the State of Exception

Although Amnesty International and other Human Rights Organizations continue to condemn the Bukele approach against gangs, Salvadorans endorse the harsh measures.

The last three surveys conducted on the first-anniversary show that approval; CID Gallup (92% approval), IUDOP (82.4 support), and LPG Datos (85.6% approval).

The CID Gallup survey reported that 81% of Salvadorans would want tougher measures against gang members. You can view all surveys here!

Homicide reduction and an overall feeling of improved security are the principal reasons Salvadorans approve of the State of Exception, even with international condemnation.

President Bukele will not change his security approach

Criticism has done little to stop the Bukele administration from continuing to implement the State of Exception. For sure, Bukele will not change his security approach!

On the anniversary of the approval of the Exception Regime, we closed the day with 0 homicides. We will continue working for the safety of Salvadorans, even if the “human rights” NGOs complain. Nayib Bukele.

Bukele’s popularity continues at high levels as the gang crackdown continues.