Massive Unjust Detentions in El Salvador

Emergency powers used to roll back human rights.

Call on El Salvador’s President to stop violating human rights in the name of public security​.

The government of El Salvador’s President Bukele has suspended constitutional guarantees and unjustly put more than 60,000 people behind bars. Tell the President to stop violating human rights.

Salvadoran authorities imposed a state of exception in March 2022, claiming it was necessary to deal with gang violence. Since then, officials continue to have special powers and have committed massive human rights violations, including a staggering number of unjust detentions.

Two cousins, aged 14 and 15, were arrested while playing outside their home in Ilopango. Their families reported that police officers accused the youths of “looking like criminals” and said they would spend 30 years in jail. 

This is no isolated case. People are being detained for having tattoos or for living in marginalized neighborhoods where gangs operate. Detainees have no access to effective legal defense, face torture and ill-treatment, and are held in overcrowded, inhumane conditions. Deaths in custody are increasing every day. Meanwhile, families often do not know where their loved ones were taken or what proceedings they face.

True security in El Salvador requires efforts that tackle the root causes of gang violence, while prioritizing human rights. Your signature can make a difference. President Nayib Bukele needs to know that the world is watching and is horrified by his massive assault on the rights of his people.

Learn More about human rights in El Salvador

El Salvador: One year into state of emergency, authorities are systematically committing human rights violations (April 3, 2023)

Eviscerating human rights is not the answer to El Salvador’s gang problem (September 7, 2022)

El Salvador: President Bukele engulfs the country in a human rights crisis after three years in government (June 2,2022)

Top image: SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR – MAY 02: A soldier looks on while lining up before patrolling on May 2, 2022 in San Salvador, El Salvador. The Legislative Assembly approved President Nayib Bekele’s request to extend the suspension of constitutional guarantees until May 27. Photo by Kellys Portillo/APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images.