El Salvador: Nayib Bukele announced the transfer of another 2,000 gang members to “the most criticized prison in the world”

On the verge of completing one year of validity, the Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele On Wednesday, he asked Congress to once again extend the emergency regime and announced the transfer of another 2,000 gang members to “the most criticized prison in the world”.

The president confirmed on Twitter that, after a new operation, there are already 4,000 prisoners “inhabiting” the mega prison intended only for gang members, ringleaders, and homeboys (clique leaders), according to the Security Minister, Gustavo Villatoro. . It is the so-called Center for the Confinement of Terrorism (CECOT).

The prison, located 74 kilometers east of the Salvadoran capital, in the municipality of Tecoluca, department of San Vicente, has 33 blocks of construction isolated from the city. It is made up of confinement pavilions with metallic cabins and punishment cells, virtual courtrooms and two modules for factories against prison leisure.

Some of the gang members housed in the new jail (Reuters)
Some of the gang members housed in the new jail (Reuters)

It has the capacity to accommodate 40,000 inmates. It has been criticized by human rights groups for not adhering to international social rehabilitation standards, which discourage large prisons with a capacity for thousands of inmates.

When the first 2,000 prisoners were transferred less than a month ago, Juan Pappier, HRW deputy director for the Americas, said the United Nations’ minimum rules for the treatment of inmates, known as the Nelson Mandela Rules, suggest that prisons in closed regime do not have such a high number of inmates because this can be “obstacle to individualization of treatment” of the detainees.

The largest prison in America can hold 40,000 inmates

The government of Nayib Bukele has also been criticized by organizations and countries for violation of human rights given the suspension of constitutional rights on which he bases his heavy-handed strategy against maras or gangs.

He March 27th It will be one year since El Salvador entered a state of emergency, which was approved by Congress at the request of the government in 2022, after 62 murders attributed to criminal gangs were recorded in a single day. Bukele again requested his renewal on Wednesday.

The moment of transfer to the mega prison (Reuters)
The moment of transfer to the mega prison (Reuters)

Since then, freedom of association, the right of a person to be duly informed of their rights and the reasons for their arrest, and the right to have the assistance of a lawyer have been suspended. The state of exception also extended from 72 hours to 15 days the term of pre-trial detention and allows the authorities to intervene the correspondence and cell phones of those they consider suspicious.

According to the Constitution, the emergency regime must be approved for 30 days and can be extended, as has happened in the last 12 months, as long as the causes that originated it exist.

Gang members are transferred (Reuters)
Gang members are transferred (Reuters)

The authorities hold the gangs responsible for most of the crimes registered in recent years in El Salvador and attribute an improvement in the figures on levels of violence to their security policy.

When presenting the request, the director of the National Police, Commissioner Mauricio Arriaza Chicas, affirmed that, after almost a year of the implementation of the measure, the results are compelling and “Based on this diagnosis, we consider that it is necessary to extend it.”

“These legal tools allow us and the armed forces the certainty that the procedures are legitimate”defended the police command.

An inmate is processed before being housed in the new prison (Reuters)
An inmate is processed before being housed in the new prison (Reuters)

For his part, the Minister of National Defense, Rear Admiral René Francis Merino Monroy, highlighted: “We have been under the emergency regime for 354 days; thanks to him we have more than 200 with zero homicides. We appreciate the tools you have given us to continue the war on gangs.”

According to official figures, more than 65,000 alleged gang members or collaborators have been captured in this time, of which more than 90% have provisional detention ordered by a judge, the majority for the crime of illegal groups. However, more than 3,700 people have been released because no true link to these criminal structures could ever be established.

(With information from AP)

Keep reading:

The video that shows how prisoners in El Salvador destroy the graves of gang members by order of Bukele
What is the inside of the new mega-prison in El Salvador, the largest prison in the Americas?

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