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News > El Salvador

El Salvador Frees 3,000 People Jailed For Alleged Gang Links

  • Inmates line up in a Salvadoran jail, 2022.

    Inmates line up in a Salvadoran jail, 2022. | Photo: Twitter/ @tv503la

Published 18 January 2023

Over the last year, authorities had arrested at least 61,000 people for suspicion of being linked to gangs.

On Tuesday, El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele said that authorities have released at least 3,000 people previously detained under the "State of Exception" for alleged links with gangs.


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"The judicial system must let them go because they are innocent," Bukele acknowledged, stressing that the only way to achieve peace is by enforcing the law and guaranteeing justice.

In March 2022, the Salvadoran Congress approved a still-in-force state of exception to fight gang violence. The initiative, extended ten times, suspends constitutional rights, such as telecommunications’ inviolability and the need for judicial orders to make arrests. It also expands the length of administrative detention from 3 days up to 15 days.

Under the state of exception, arrests have become more frequent and expedited. So far, authorities have arrested over 61,000 people for suspicion of being linked to gangs.

Human rights defenders recommended that Bukele end the state of emergency as there have been cases of torture and death of detainees.

“The results of the state of emergency have positioned El Salvador as the safest country in Latin America," Bukele claimed, adding that this measure will last as long as it has to.

On Sept. 3, 2021, the Supreme Court enabled Bukele to run for the 2024 presidential elections by approving the possibility of immediate re-election for presidents.

"I announce to the Salvadoran people my decision to be again a candidate for the presidency," Bukele declared, stressing the "fairness" of the Court decision.



Nayib Bukele
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