A Salvadoran soldier searches a man
Why El Salvador Has The Strictest Abortion Laws In The World Photo by: El Salvador's Presidency Press Office via AFP/Handout

An independent report released on Wednesday by the organization Human Rights Watch alleges that the El Salvador government’s nine-month anti-gang crackdown has resulted in human rights violations from the military and the police as well as forced detentions and crackdowns with little to no evidence proving .

The report, released by the Human Rights Watch in association with the Salvadoran nonprofit Cristosal, show that many of those imprisoned or detained by the government have suffered through ‘torture,’ among other things, and that very little transparency has come in to document the process of the arrests, according to Reuters.

The state of emergency and anti-gang crackdown happened after multiple civilians were killed in March due to the actions of alleged gang members. The emergency declaration, which has been renewed many times, allows police to arrest people for longer periods of time and with them having little recourse for legal defenses.

Over 58,000 people, including 1,600 children, have been arrested since the crackdown began.

President Nayib Bukele has repeatedly rebuffed any concerns of human rights violations on his anti-crime crackdown, saying that his security policy has brought down crime significantly and given “peace” to neighbors riddled with gang activity.

The human rights report said that the police appear to be targeting low-income neighborhoods, and that the military and police appear to have “carried out similar violations repeatedly, across the country” over several months, emboldened by the rhetoric brought out by Bukele, according to the report.

Police would reportedly arrest people on flimsy or questionable evidence, and would refuse to show families and victims a search or arrest warrant, sometimes even foregoing telling them the reason for their arrest. They would also sometimes refuse to tell families where the victims are, which amounts to a forced disappearance of the person.

Stories of torture and inhumane conditions in prisons abound, with prisons being held at three times their capacity over the past few months. Many are reportedly only allowed to speak to their lawyers minutes before a hearing begins.

“Salvadoran security forces have battered vulnerable communities with widespread human rights violations in the name of public safety,” Juanita Goebertus, a director from the Human Rights Watch, said. “To put an end to gang violence and human rights violations, El Salvador’s government should replace the state of emergency with an effective and rights-respective security policy that grants Salvadorans the safety they so dearly deserve.”

El Salvador troops
El Salvador troops. Photo by: Jose Cabezas/Reuters

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