AP

El Salvador congress extends gang crackdown yet again

Dec 14, 2022, 4:23 PM | Updated: Dec 15, 2022, 7:05 am

FILE - A handcuffed man, arrested for alleged gang connections, waits to be transferred to a prison...

FILE - A handcuffed man, arrested for alleged gang connections, waits to be transferred to a prison at the police delegation of San Bartolo in Soyapango, El Salvador, Aug. 16, 2022. Congress voted on Dec. 14 to extend President Nayib Bukele’s emergency powers to crack down on gangs for the ninth time. (AP Photo/Salvador Melendez, File)

(AP Photo/Salvador Melendez, File)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — The congress of El Salvador has voted to extend President Nayib Bukele’s emergency powers to crack down on gangs for yet another month.

The vote late Wednesday extends for the ninth time the measures, enacted after a surge in murders in March, and ensures they will last into 2023. The crackdown appears to have widespread popular support despite evidence of abuses.

More than 60,000 people have been arrested under the measures, which suspend some constitutional rights and gives police more powers to arrest and hold suspects.

Activists say it has led to human rights abuses, and Salvadoran officials said they will review prison conditions with human rights groups starting in January. Rights activists say young men are frequently arrested just based on their age, on their appearance or whether they live in a gang-dominated slum.

The country’s human rights official, Raquel Caballero, said 2,100 people have been released after arrest because they had no ties to the street gangs.

El Salvador’s gangs, which have been estimated to count some 70,000 members in their ranks, have long controlled swaths of territory and extorted and killed with impunity.

Recent polls show support for the measures reaching nearly 90% among Salvadorans.

Bukele has begun sealing off certain sectors of cities in El Salvador, surrounding them with police and soldiers, and checking anyone entering or leaving.

Bukele requested Congress grant him extraordinary powers after gangs were blamed for 62 killings on March 26.

Under the decree, the right of association, the right to be informed of the reason for an arrest and access to a lawyer are suspended. The government also can intervene in the calls and mail of anyone they consider a suspect. The time someone can be held without charges is extended from three days to 15 days.

Nongovernmental organizations have tallied several thousand human rights violations and at least 80 in-custody deaths of people arrested during the crackdown.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

1 day ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

2 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

2 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

4 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

4 days ago

Juanita Beach Kirkland...

Kathy McCormack and Nick Perry, The Associated Press

‘Tis the season for swimming and bacteria alerts in lakes, rivers

With summer about to start, many people flocking to their favorite swimming holes may also want to read up on bacteria warnings.

5 days ago

El Salvador congress extends gang crackdown yet again