El Salvador isolates imprisoned gang members after emergency decreed

San Salvador, Mar 27 (EFE).- Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele on Sunday ordered the isolation of all imprisoned gang members after the implementation of a state of emergency in El Salvador during which all constitutional guarantees after arrest have been suspended with an eye toward reining in the skyrocketing surge in gang violence, particularly murders.

Bukele ordered the head of the Prison System, Osiris Luna, to “once again decree a maximum emergency in all … prisons” such that “all cells (will be) closed 24/7.”

“Message to the gangs: For your actions, now your ‘homeboys’ will not be able to see a ray of sunlight,” he added.

Bukele, who has launched a crackdown on gangs, previously blamed the rise in homicides on the “dark forces who are working to return us to the past,” but stressed that “this administration is not going to allow it.”

The order comes after Congress, without studying or discussing the initiative requested by Bukele, approved on Sunday morning imposing a state of emergency to deal with the “disproportionate increase” in the number of murders, which made Saturday, March 26, the deadliest day in recent Salvadoran history with 62 killings.

One must go back to August 2015 to find a similar, albeit smaller, figure with 51 people being murdered on that day.

“I have (signed) and published in the Official Gazette the ‘Emergency Regime’ decree, which enters into force today and will be valid for 30 days,” the president said on Sunday via Twitter.

Bukele said that “the measures to be taken will be implemented by the appropriate institutions and announced only when necessary.”

“For the immense majority of people, life continues normally. God bless all of us,” he added.

The president said that “religious services, sports events, business, studies, etc. can continue normally. Only if you are a gang member or the authorities consider you a suspect” will anyone be personally affected by the order.

“However, there will certainly be some focused and temporary closures in some areas,” Bukele added.

The rights suspended by the Salvadoran legislature include freedom of gathering and association, the right to legal defense and the inviolability of correspondence.

In addition, the ban on intervening in telecommunications without judicial authorization has been suspended and the period during which suspects can be held in jail under administrative detention has been increased to 15 days from the normal 72 hours.

The decree designates the Security Ministry, the National Civil Police and the Defense Ministry to implement the measures.

The document does not state whether the armed forces will be authorized to act on any of the measures, including intervening in telecommunications.

Meanwhile, the police have increased their raids in zones controlled by gangs, according to their posts on social networks.

After Bukele issued the order about isolating imprisoned gang members, prison director Luna responded: “The order will be carried out immediately. These criminals will NOT see the sunlight.”

During earlier waves of violence, Bukele issued the same order, which – humanitarian organizations have complained – affected inmates not belonging to gangs.

Luna is one of the two officials sanctioned by the US Treasury for allegedly facilitating and organizing “several secret meetings” with imprisoned MS-13 gang leaders.

These meetings were part of the efforts of the Salvadoran government to negotiate a secret truce with the gang leaders, the US said in a statement last December.

Related Articles

Back to top button