UN High Commissioner Says that the Duration of the State of Exception in El Salvador is Excessive

By Karla Ramos  |  Sep 12th, 2023
Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human RightsVolker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Image by UNHumanRights.

Volker Türk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that the duration of the state of emergency in El Salvador is excessive and that the mass arrests that this has caused are alarming.

Türk made the statement Tuesday, September 12, in his opening speech at the 54th session of the Human Rights Council. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights addressed the situation in several countries that he considers to be a matter of concern, including El Salvador.

In El Salvador, Mr. Türk was concerned about the excessive duration of the current state of emergency, and mass detentions which had occurred in this context, as well as unacceptable prison conditions, and restrictions of civic space. United Nations Human Rights Council.

In this context, he considered the prison’s conditions and the increasing restrictions on civil rights and due process are unacceptable. The Salvadoran authorities have justified them as necessary in their fight against crime.

The State of Exception, a security measure implemented to fight gangs, has been in effect since March 2022, a period in which over 71,000 people have been arrested.

According to Türk’s office, about 1,600 of those detained are minors. Additionally, he reported that 153 inmates had died in prison and that half of these deaths had been violent.

The UN High Commissioner stated that it is a complex challenge to put an end to rampant gang crime in El Salvador and that the causes include deficits in governance, inequalities, and disrespect for fundamental economic, social, and cultural rights.

Since the end of the Civil War in 1992 and until 2019, El Salvador has been one of the most violent countries in the world, not at war. However, the country’s security has improved under the Bukele administration.

According to Salvadoran Authorities, the State of Exception has helped reduce homicides and has made Salvadorans feel safer. The controversial State of Exception security measure has the approval of most Salvadorans.

The security measure has been extended 17 times for 30 days, and according to legislators that support Nayib Bukele, they will continue to approve the extensions as many times as the Bukele administration considers it necessary.