El Salvador approves fourth extension of state of emergency to fight gangs

The Legislative Assembly of El Salvador has approved this Friday the fourth extension of the state of emergency to combat gang members in the country, hours after the Government requested it to the Salvadoran Parliament.

With 67 votes in favor and 15 against, the state of exception has been extended by the National Assembly throughout the national territory for 30 more days, until August 23.

“Prolong throughout the national territory for the term of thirty days from its publication in the Official Gazette and under the same conditions the effects of legislative decree 333 dated March 27 of the present year,” reads the approved decree to which the Salvadoran newspaper ‘El Mundo’ has had access.

Hours before, the president of the Legislative Assembly, Ernesto Castro, had announced that he had received the Security Cabinet of the Executive of El Salvador to vote on the extension of the state of exception, which expired on July 24.

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“The Salvadoran people must be certain that we will continue to support the extension of the state of exception”, said Castro, in declarations reported by the above mentioned newspaper.

During the period of the state of exception, the Salvadoran government is empowered to suspend certain freedoms and guarantees to facilitate the deployment of military and police in the streets and in the municipalities where these homicides occurred.

Specifically, this measure allows throughout the country the suspension of the right of assembly, the increase of the maximum of detention from 72 hours to 15 days, the elimination of the right of defense and the elimination of the right not to be tapped in telecommunications, as detailed by the above-mentioned newspaper.

The Minister of the Interior, Gustavo Villatoro, justified the extension of the state of emergency by detailing some of the data provided by the measure in these almost 120 days of the state of emergency, such as more than 46,000 arrests, 1,103 weapons seized, 1,314 vehicles seized, or 49,105 “portions” of drugs seized.

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The state of exception, which with this new extension will reach 150 days, will last until “all gang members in El Salvador are behind bars”, as Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele assured in June.

“We are going to step up this war against the gangs and if they thought that the force of the State had been unleashed on these criminals, now they are really going to see what it means to unleash the force of the State on these criminals,” he explained.

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