Honduras former President Juan Orlando Hernandez is being transported to the U.S., in Tegucigalpa
Private Jet Originating From Texas Crash Lands And Splits In Half in Honduran Capital Photo by: Reuters/Fredy Rodriguez

The Honduras government on Saturday agreed to extend and expand the current state of emergency in the country that has allowed them to battle gangs, despite worries from human rights groups about the repercussions of the measures.

The government expanded the state of emergency declaration to another 45 days and has reportedly been expanded to over 235 of the country’s 298 municipalities, which includes Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, which are Honduras’ two largest cities, according to Voice of America.

The state of emergency declaration comes after President Xiomara Castro attempted to tackle the high extortion rates being experienced in the country, targeting gangs like Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 and giving police officials more power to detain people believed to be linked or involved in criminal activity.

The declaration also suspends important constitutional rights in the fight against extortion and organized crime, including freedom of association, freedom of movement, potentially the freedom for people to not get spied on, and the need for the police to have arrest warrants to lawfully arrest someone, Crisis 24 reported.

Police chief Gustavo Sanchez has welcomed the new expansion of the resolution, claiming that it will continue to help empower police officials to tackle and reduce crime and violence. The police alleged that over 39 criminal gangs have been destroyed since the state of emergency has been declared, with hundreds of people arrested in the process.

The extortion in Honduras has become significantly problematic recently, as gangs found themselves receiving $737 million in cash annually from their victims, which makes up for 3% of the country’s GDP–a significant loss of income in the country.

Human rights watchers are closely monitoring the situation to ensure that those who have been arrested and imprisoned are treated fairly.

Meanwhile, the United States and Honduras will be meeting up in a bilateral meeting in Tegucigalpa to discuss the country’s progress in human rights and gender violence, among other topics. Castro and Foreign Affairs Minister Enrique Reina will be leading the discussion with the U.S. delegation in the country, according to Prensa Latina News.

Honduras declares national emergency over gang extortions
Honduras declares national emergency over gang extortions. Photo by: Reuters/Fredy Rodriguez

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