Photo by Emerson Flores/APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images

El Salvador: Violence merits a comprehensive response that respects human rights

Amnesty International published an open letter to President Nayib Bukele today, expressing concern about the actions of the Salvadoran authorities in response to the dramatic increase in homicides reported last weekend.

“The drastic rise in homicides has made it clear that public security challenges remain. Amnesty International stands in solidarity with the families and communities of those who died violently last weekend, and with all victims of violence and human rights abuses in El Salvador,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

“Undoubtedly, the critical levels of violence that the country has been facing for years demand urgent action to protect the lives and safety of people in the face of criminality. To this end, the state is obliged to design and implement measures that are necessary, effective, proportional and in accordance with human rights. However, many of the actions that the Salvadoran authorities have implemented so far are unacceptable and in no way justified.”

Human rights violations cannot be the solution to violence; they only worsen the grave situation, generating a context of abuses and arbitrariness from which there is no return

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International

The Emergency Decree and the legal reforms undertaken to instruments such as the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure contain precepts that flagrantly violate the rights to due process and judicial guarantees. The Salvadoran authorities must guarantee the population a comprehensive response that respects human rights.

“In 2019, when Amnesty International met with President Bukele, he pledged to be a fresh voice and to distance himself from models of governance that disrespect human rights in Central America. However, throughout his term in office we have observed consistent non-compliance with his commitments and a context where human rights are constantly at risk and deteriorating,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.

“President Bukele has shown that, not only has he not changed the failed policies of past governments in El Salvador, but he repeats them despite knowing the outcome. Human rights violations cannot be the solution to violence; they only worsen the grave situation, generating a context of abuses and arbitrariness from which there is no return.”