El Salvador approves a new extension of the state of emergency to curb crime

El Salvador approves a new extension of the state of emergency to curb crime

At the request of the government of the Salvadoran president Nayib BukeleCongress approved on Tuesday a fourth extension to the emergency regime to continue fighting the maras or gangs, which are now persecuted in rural areas where they have taken refuge in makeshift camps.

“We have come again to request a new extension of the exception regime for another 30 days. The results that we are giving as the Security Cabinet are visible. We are going to keep our strategies firm”said the Minister of Security, Gustavo Villatorowhen presenting the request to Congress. The extension was approved by a 67-15 vote and two absences of deputies from the unicameral Congress.

After 62 homicides were reported on March 26, a level of crime that had not been seen in El Salvador in several, Congress approved the state of emergency, which limits freedom of association, suspends a person’s right to be duly informed of their rights and reasons for arrest, as well as the assistance of a lawyer. In addition, it extends the period of administrative detention from 72 hours to 15 days and allows the authorities to seize the correspondence and cell phones of those they consider suspicious. The regime was last extended on June 22 and came into effect two days later. It was scheduled to expire on July 24.

The authorities maintain that the circumstances that motivated the implementation of the measure persist. So far in the emergency regime, the authorities have captured 46,694 people, most of them accused of being part of criminal structures or collaborating with gangs. Villatoro assured that the capture of thousands of gang members, who have subjected Salvadorans for decades, has managed to reduce the rates of homicides, extortion, possession of weapons and drugs.

“We have disrupted the transnational, criminal and terrorist structure, the drug business led by the terrorists and we are going to eradicate them completely.”, stated Villatoro.

Human rights organizations have denounced repeated irregularities, including arbitrary arrests and violations of due process.

While the security authorities requested to extend the emergency regime, hundreds of people marched towards the Presidential House to demand the release of their relatives and repeal the measure. Police shock forces set up barricades with barbed wire and prevented them from advancing. No major problems were reported. The Security Minister also dismissed the complaints from human rights organizations and relatives of the detainees.

“It is clear that the opposition wants to continue generating the story that there are arbitrary captures, that poor things, that where are the rights of gang members and we know very well where this type of financing comes from. We are going to continue with the courage of President Bukele fighting these criminals,” he stated.

Villatoro said that the gangs “left their places where they sold their drugs in the cities and have migrated to the rural area and at this moment there are more than 104 clandestine camps dismantled.” According to the Constitution, the term of suspension of the constitutional guarantees shall not exceed the period of 30 days. Once this period has elapsed, it may be extended for the same period and by means of a new decree, in the event that the circumstances that motivated it continue. Failure to do so would result in full reinstatement of suspended warranties.

In March of this year, the Salvadoran Congress approved some reforms to the Penal Code to make it a crime to be part of a gang, which could be punished with a sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison. The ringleaders could be sentenced to 40 to 45 years in prison.

In crimes related to organized crime, which includes gangs, 20 years in prison are applied to adolescents over 16 years of age and up to 10 years for those over 12. The so-called maras or gangs, which have an estimated 70,000 members, have a presence in populous neighborhoods and communities in the country and are involved in drug trafficking and organized crime. They also extort merchants and transport companies and kill those who refuse to pay, according to authorities. In August 2015, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice declared the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18 gangs to be terrorist groups. .

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.