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by Ceren Sagir
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH condemned social media posts of Salvadorean police which show gang suspects being arrested, calling the government’s strategy “first arrest, then tweet, investigate later.”
El Salvador Defence Minister Rene Merino praised the extension by congress of emergency measures following the arrest of more than 17,000 suspected gang members in a month.
He said that the measures are having a positive effect in the battle against gang violence.
On Sunday congress extended the state of emergency, which came into force on March 27 after 62 people were murdered in one day, by another 30 days.
The emergency measures have been criticised by rights groups as they limit some constitutional rights, such as allowing security forces to arrest suspects without a warrant.
Sentencing has also been raised to a maximum of 45 years in prison.
Merino said that crimes such as extortion had dropped since the emergency measures were introduced.
“The aim is to make these gangs disappear altogether from El Salvador,” he said, saying that “the honest population is very satisfied with the work we’re doing against the gangs.”
But he did not say if any polls had been carried out that supported his statement.
The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights warned earlier this month that thousands of Salvadoreans had been detained without an arrest warrant and that some had reported being subjected to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
Mr Merino said on Monday that those arrested who were found to have no links to gangs would be freed.
In 2021 the nation recorded 1,140 gang-related murders, a 30-year low.
But violent sprees continue. In November, more than 40 people were killed within three days.
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