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At least 17,000 arrested under state of emergency order in El Salvador

ElSalvador
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At least 17,000 people have been arrested in El Salvador amid a nationwide crackdown on gang violence as part of a state of emergency declared last month.

El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, said that on Sunday alone 1,000 people were arrested. That figure brought the total arrests in the last 30 days to more than 17,000.

Authorities in the country have said suspected gang members who have been arrested have contributed to recent record-setting violence in the country.

However, rights group Amnesty International said Monday that some people were victims of “arbitrary detentions by security forces.”

Amnesty cited media reports that indicated at least four people have allegedly died in custody since the state of emergency order took effect. 

The group added that the detainees have had their food rationed and have at times been treated with excessive force, citing the president’s own remarks and social media footage.

“We seized everything from them, even their sleeping mats, we rationed their food and now they will no longer see the sun,” the president said in a tweet not long after the state of emergency went into effect.

El Salvador’s state of emergency was declared March 27, and by the next day more than 1,000 gang suspects had been arrested. 

The country’s Congress allowed Bukele to declare the state of emergency after one of the most violent weekends the country had seen in decades.

But the emergency declaration loosened policies surrounding the constitutional guarantees of freedom of assembly and arrests. The declaration was set to expire on April 25, but it was renewed for 30 more days. 

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