President Bukele’s “Territorial Control Plan” Leads to Thousands of Arbitrary Arrests and Suspension of Habeas Corpus in El Salvador

1: president bukele of el salvador praised the military officers for their future careers in law enforcement and introduced the “territorial control plan” with 10,000 members of the security forces descending on the town of soyapango. 95% of salvadoreans have supported the emergency measure, resulting in a decrease in the murder rate and a period of calm in neighbourhood plagued by gangs. zoyla torres’ husband manuel and her brother-in-law were arrested in april based on an anonymous tip. marta, an 18-year-old psychology student, was arrested in late december and has been detained in prison for six months with no proof or evidence of her alleged illicit association.

2: the state of exception is set to be extended yet again this year. lucrecia landaverde, a pro-bono lawyer representing detainees, warns that such policy is causing serious damage to el salvador’s judicial system. police are reportedly justifying the detentions as “the president’s will”. william arias, an evangelical pastor and former ms-13 member, was arrested in april and 57,000 people have been arrested on suspicion of gang affiliation since march. zoyla was able to secure the release of her husband and brother-in-law with the help of their employer.

3: thousands of arbitrary arrests, unfounded accusations, and illegal detentions have been reported. habeas corpus has been all but suspended. william arias had dedicated the last 18 years of his life to dissuading other young people from joining the gang. oscar, a father of a former gang member, believes that the government’s crackdown was motivated by a desire to show a high number of arrests. the emergency measure has been supported by 95% of salvadoreans, resulting in a decrease in the murder rate and a period of calm in neighbourhood plagued by gangs. however, the state of exception has been extended yet again this year, raising questions about the legality of such policy and its long-term implications for el salvador’s judicial system.

By Evey Lovelace

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