El Salvador’s congress has approved the extension of special powers for another month, a decision that has been met with criticism from civil and human rights organizations. The state of exception suspends some fundamental rights in order to facilitate the fight against gangs in the country.
Justice and Security Minister Gustavo Villatoro said that the state of exception would continue until the last gang member is captured. After a surge in gang violence in March 2022, President Nayib Bukele had requested the special powers to pursue the gangs in the country.
Civil and human rights organizations have condemned the situation, citing widespread abuses. They have expressed concern over the lack of judicial oversight and the potential for increased abuses of power from the government. The groups have argued that the state of exception has failed to bring down the rate of gang violence, and has instead led to an increase in human rights abuses.
Despite the criticism, El Salvador has seen some progress in its fight against gangs. Last year, the country reported 495 homicides, the lowest figure in recent decades. The government has also unveiled a massive new prison to hold 40,000 gang members, arguing that the state of exception is necessary in order to effectively tackle the gangs.