El Salvador’s Crime Problem is Slowly Getting Better

Corban Gobble, Copy Editor

  El Salvador has historically been crippled by gang crime and violence. In April this year, the country’s defense minister claims that the extensions by congress of emergency are having a “positive” effect.

   More than 17,000 suspected gang members were arrested in a one-month span from March to April, which was sparked by an initial event of 62 people having been murdered in one day. “The aim is to make these gangs disappear altogether from EL Salvador,” said Defense Minister Merino. “The honest population is very satisfied with the work we’re doing against the gangs.”

   The movement is controversial is human rights advocates because it deprecates some constitutional rights, such as allowing police to arrest suspects without a warrant. The UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says that these arrests are “cruel, inhuman, or degrading.”

   OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell stresses that the unfolded events could lead to other consequences. “Criminal trials could now be held in absentia, in the case of alleged gang members, or presided over by so-called ‘face; judges whose identity remained ‘confidential.” Merino claims that those arrested that are found to have no links to gangs would be freed.

   Americas director for Human Rights Watch Tamara Taraciuk Broner says, “We have found evidence of arbitrary detentions of innocent people, who have in some cases been disappeared for short periods of time, as well as alarming cases of deaths while in custody.”

   Prisons in the country are also overcrowded, with 136% capacity as of May 2. The govern-ment claims that it will be resolved by building more prisons, but that takes time. Gang members held in prisons have been put on food rations and were denied mattresses.

   According to the Associated Press, Bukele has “unashamedly filled his social media platforms with photos of handcuffed and bloodied gang members.” It was at the same time he has attacked human rights organizations that critique his measures.

   El Salvador’s gang problem is rampant and forces many to immigrate, but many are slow to accept the measures being taken.