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News > El Salvador

El Salvador: First Covid-19 Quarantine Arrests Announced

  • Salvadoran police enforce measures to contain Covid-19

    Salvadoran police enforce measures to contain Covid-19 | Photo: Twitter/@PNCSV

Published 23 March 2020

More than 250 people have been arrested since El Salvador’s government decreed an official quarantine on March 21.

Journalists and human rights activists from El Salvador have announced more than 250 arrests after official Nayib Bikele, Salvadorean President, decreed an official quarantine.


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Between other measures to restrain Covid-19, only one member per family could buy supplies like food or medicines. Also, only public servants who are related to food delivery, transportation, and other basic services are allowed to go out.

In the first 24 hours of the restrictions, the police arrested more than 250 who violated this measure.

"These 269 people were going to spend the 30 days in quarantine, in their homes and with their families. Now, they will begin day 1 (of 30) in containment centers, surrounded by strangers," the Salvadoran President wrote on Twitter.

"These 269 people were to spend the 30 days of quarantine, in their homes and with their families. Now they will begin day 1 (of 30) in Containment Centers, surrounded by strangers. Be smart and respect the quarantine.  It's for your health, your life and the lives of others. "

Arnaldo Baulenas, a lawyer at the Institute of Human Rights at the Central American University (UCA), said these cases "are not detentions" but arrests. The academic explained that the detainees do not have their fundamental rights.

"These are detentions, without guaranteeing their rights, including having a lawyer and presenting them before a judge. To keep a person deprived of liberty, just because a police officer interprets that going out into the street is not covered by the decree, is illegal," Baulenas explained.

Angélica Cárcamo, El Salvador's Journalists' Association 'president,' announced that members of the police force are violating freedom of expression and the exercise of the press.

According to Cárcamo, representatives of the armed forces erased all photos and data from the phone of a reporter who was reporting on the operations along the border region of Morazán.

The Human Rights Ombudsman's Office requires the police to establish a protocol for identifying and treating displaced persons to avoid detention.

Minister of Security and Justice Rogelio Rivas said that those detained were in a state of drunkenness on the public highway. According to the director of the National Civil Police, Mauricio Ariza, 23,000 agents collaborate in enforcing these measures.


Nayib Bikele
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