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Congress of El Salvador Extends Exception Against Gangs

El Salvador’s Congress approved on Wednesday a sixth 30-day extension of an exception regime to fight gangs, which has detained just over 52,000 people, alleged gang members.

The emergency regime is extended “throughout the national territory for a period of 30 days,” said the decree approved with the votes of 65 deputies, allies of President Nayib Bukele’s government.

“It is necessary to uproot everything that has done harm to our country”, said the president of Congress, Ernesto Castro, before submitting the measure requested by the government to a vote.

In response to an escalation of 87 murders committed between March 25 and 27, Congress accepted a government request to decree emergency rule, which has been extended until at least October 18, and has allowed the arrest without warrants of just over 52,000 suspected gang members.

The emergency regime also suspends the freedom of association, the right to defense, extends the period of preventive detention from 3 to 15 days, and allows the interception of communications.

Most gang members are related to the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Barrio 18.

The exception regime has been constantly criticized and disapproved by human rights organizations, considering that the measure represents a mechanism to disrespect the rights of detainees.

The deputy director for the Americas of Human Rights Watch (HRW), Tamara Taraciuk, posted on her Twitter account on Tuesday that the emergency regime “has turned out to be a human rights disaster”.

For the HRW representative, El Salvador is a country where “anyone is exposed to abuses” due to this regime. Before the “war” waged by the government against the gangs, there were some 16,000 of its members imprisoned.

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