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Salvadoran Congress Approves 19th Extension of Emergency Regime

  • Salvadoran security forces prepare for an operation, Oct. 11, 2023.

    Salvadoran security forces prepare for an operation, Oct. 11, 2023. | Photo: X/ @InfoInfusionDgo

Published 12 October 2023

The suspension of constitutional rights has been in effect for 20 months in this Central American country.

On Wednesday night, the ruling party New Ideas (NI) and its allies in the Legislative Assembly approved the 19th extension of an exceptional regime to combat gangs.


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Approved with the votes of 67 out of 84 lawmakers, the suspension of constitutional guarantees was extended for an additional 30 days. This means that the exceptional regime will be in effect for 20 uninterrupted months in this Central American republic.

"We will continue with this until it is necessary. We will do it until Salvadorans decide that the exceptional regime has run its course," said Ernesto Castro, the president of the National Assembly and former private secretary to President Nayib Bukele.

The exceptional regime was approved in March 2022 after a surge in homicides attributed to gangs, which left over 80 people killed in three days. This time, the measure was approved without prior analysis by a parliamentary committee or submission to legislative debate.

Since 2022, the Congress has suspended the right to legal defense and the inviolability of telecommunications. It has also extended the maximum duration of administrative detention to 15 days.

As a result, the Legislative Assembly has granted special powers to the Bukele administration for its "war against gangs," which has involved the detention of thousands of citizens suspected of gang affiliation.

The legislative decree states that the exceptional regime provides the Bukele administration with the tools to carry out "appropriate operational actions and to continue providing security against the threat of criminal organizations and their members."

"While we are decisively winning the war against gangs, there are gangsters who have not yet been captured and continue their criminal activities," it adds.

So far, Salvadoran authorities have detained over 72,000 individuals using the powers granted by the exceptional regime. Human rights defenders claim that at least 5,000 Salvadorans have been direct victims of abuses such as arbitrary detentions.


Nayib Bukele
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