‘Mano Dura’: Unprecedented Human Rights Issues In El Salvador

Amnesty international’s report’“Behind the Veil of Popularity: Repression and Regression in Human Rights in El Salvador”, published last December 5th, has denounced a disturbing regression of human rights in El Salvador. Amnesty’s alarming report suggests that this may be one of the worst crises that have occurred in Salvador since the end of its civil war in 1992.

Ana Piquer, Americas director at Amnesty International affirmed that: “The deterioration in the guarantee of human rights in El Salvador in recent years that we have documented is extremely alarming. The adoption of a focus on highly repressive security and weakening of the rule of law have led the country into one of its worse crises since the end of the internal armed conflict”-

Since March 2022, El Salvador has been in a state of emergency declared by the National Assembly to address the problem of gang violence. As a consequence, the government opted for assertive security strategies, commonly referred to as “mano dura.” This resulted in a large-scale suspension of basic human rights. What is even more alarming is the almost total lack of response from the state, which does not punish human rights violations perpetrated by its forces. At the beginning of 2023, Human Rights Watch found examples of mass arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and due process violations. The state of emergency culminated in the arrest of tens of thousands of people, most of which have been carried out in ways detrimental to human rights. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights demanded that authorities to stop arbitrary mass incarceration.

A report published by InSight Crime last November, and mentioned in a recent Jurist article, finds that gang violence has in fact decreased since 2022. However, Amnesty’s concern stems from the fact that state violence may have overtaken gang violence, which was the reason why the government declared the state of emergency in the first place. What makes the situation even more concerning is that the government is also using violence against political dissidents as well as human rights activists.

The Organisation for World Peace urges El Salvador to annul the state of exception and cease the ongoing human rights violations. Specifically, in alignment with the demands set forth by Amnesty International, the Salvadoran government is called upon to reinstate judicial guarantees and uphold due processes. Furthermore, it is imperative for the international community to step in and exert pressure on the government to adhere to international human rights standards. By taking swift and decisive action, we can collectively work towards ensuring the protection and restoration of fundamental human rights for all individuals in El Salvador.