Over 79,000 Arrested During El Salvador’s State of Exception: Two Years Under the Security Measure

By Karla Ramos  | Updated on Apr 2nd, 2024
El Salvador State of Exception arrestsSalvadoran Police. Image by Fuerza Armada

March 27, 2024, marked the second anniversary of the Salvadoran State of Emergency. Initially approved on March 27, 2022, following an increase in gang-related killings that claimed the lives of 87 individuals in a mere three days.

Since then, over 79,000 alleged gang members and collaborators have been arrested as part of the security measure, most of whom are in pre-trial detention.

Additionally, the Salvadoran Ministry of Security and the Salvadoran National Police (PNC) have reported that over 8,000 vehicles and over 3,900 firearms have been seized during the security operations.

Gustavo Villatoro, the Salvadoran Minister of Justice and Public Security, confirmed in an April 2 TV interview that from March 2022 to March 2024, 79,184 people had been arrested. Villatoro also confirmed that 3,965 guns and 8,122 cars had been confiscated during the State of Exception.

The Salvadoran State of Exception is an emergency regime that began as a direct response to a spike in homicides that occurred in late March 2022. Up to this day, the Salvadoran legislature has consecutively approved the extension of the emergency regime 24 times, each time in 30-day intervals.

SEE ALSO: El Salvador State of Exception; A Security Measure Implemented to Fight Gangs

Strong results. Since Regimen of Exception began to date, we have managed to have a strong impact on these terrorist structures. We will not take a single step back, we will see that these criminals do not return to the streets. Salvadoran Ministry of Security.

Human Rights Violations

Local and national human rights organizations claim that the State of Exception needs to end as it has violated many individuals’ human rights. Cristosal, a local human rights organization, has released reports regarding these abuses.

Amnesty International for the Americas, in its statement for the two years of the State of Exception in El Salvador, assured that it cannot be “a success” to replace gang violence with state violence.

The organization indicated that Nayib Bukele’s government implements the security measure extraordinarily and temporarily without any evaluation or counterweight in the country and with a timid response from the international community.

Two years after declaring a state of emergency, a measure that is considered extraordinary and temporary, and implementing a series of amendments to criminal law that undermine the presumption of innocence and the right to defense, among other guarantees of due process, the government of El Salvador continues to ignore its international human rights obligations by maintaining these measures as the mainstay of its security strategy. Amnesty International.

State of Exception Success

The controversial State of Exception has the approval of most Salvadorans; it is also credited for reducing the country’s homicide rate and achieving many days with zero homicides.

Salvadoran authorities have reported that the country has achieved 472 days without homicides during the two years the State of Exception has been in place.

Two years have passed since the early hours of March 27, and the effectiveness of the emergency regime is reflected in the 472 days with zero homicides achieved during the implementation of the security measure. Diario El Salvador.

While local and international human rights organizations frequently criticize the State of Exception and advocate for its termination, the Bukele administration has reiterated its commitment to sustain it until every gang member is removed from the streets.