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News > El Salvador

Salvadoran Congress Extends State Of Exception For 11th Time

  • Military men guard the streets, El Salvador, 2023.

    Military men guard the streets, El Salvador, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/ @soy_502

Published 15 February 2023

This initiative suspends several constitutional rights so that authorities allegedly better counteract armed gangs' violence. 

On Tuesday, the Congress of El Salvador extended for the 11th time the "State of Exception" issued in March 2022 by President Nayib Bukele to counteract armed gangs’ violence.


4,564 Salvadorans Have Suffered Abuse During State Of Exception

Legislators from the pro-government New Ideas party and their allies, who hold about 61 out of 84 seats in Congress, approved the extension without a prior study or discussion.

“We all have to work hard to make El Salvador a safer country," Security Minister Gustavo Villatoro claimed when presenting the request to extend the initiative.

The State of Exception suspends several constitutional rights, including the freedom of association and citizens’ right to be assisted by a lawyer in case of detention. In addition, this initiative extends the pre-trial detention period from 72 hours to 15 days and allows authorities to intervene in the cell phones of people held in jail.

The Bukele administration praised that Salvadoran authorities have seized 2,326 firearms and US$1.7 million and have arrested 64,000 citizens for alleged links with armed gangs.

However, human rights organizations stressed that they received over 5,564 complaints of abuse of power since the State of Exception was approved and that authorities had to release over 3,745 people arrested for alleged links to criminal groups because of lack of evidence.

“Congress must adopt a comprehensive plan that guarantees not only the apprehension of gang members but also responds to the needs of victims of violence and citizens not linked to gangs,” opposition legislator Claudia Ortiz stated.

"It is easy to be extending the state of exception every month, but what is complex is to seek truth and justice," she stressed.

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