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Amnesty International has accused President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador of reducing gang violence in the country by replacing it with state violence, leading to a human rights crisis as he begins his second term in office. The group reported that Bukele’s two-year campaign has resulted in the deaths of 235 people in state custody and 327 cases of enforced disappearances. Amnesty’s Americas director, Ana Piquer, criticized the Salvadoran government for adopting disproportionate measures and denying, minimizing, and concealing human rights violations.

Bukele launched his war on gangs in March 2022, which initially led to a significant decrease in homicides. However, Amnesty reported that the government’s actions, including suspending the need for arrest warrants and the right to a fair trial, have resulted in prison overcrowding at 148 percent. Despite winning a landslide victory in February’s election and consolidating power, Amnesty warned that the situation is likely to worsen if corrective actions are not taken. Minister of Justice and Security Gustavo Villatoro has vowed to continue the government’s campaign against gangs, declaring that the war will persist until the criminal organizations are eradicated.

Ana Piquer criticized Bukele for creating a false illusion that he had found a simple solution to the complex problems of violence and criminality in El Salvador. She called for a stronger response from the international community in condemning any public security model based on human rights violations. Despite the warning from Amnesty, the government remains committed to its anti-gang campaign, with Villatoro emphasizing that the fight against terrorism will continue. The international community’s response to the human rights crisis in El Salvador has been described as timid, and there are concerns that the government’s policies could lead to a lasting policy of torture within the prison system.

The human rights crisis in El Salvador has been exacerbated by President Nayib Bukele’s war on gangs, which Amnesty International warns has resulted in a troubling increase in state violence. While initial efforts to reduce gang violence led to a decline in homicides, the government’s actions, including suspending civil liberties and increasing prison overcrowding, have raised concerns about human rights violations. Despite criticism from Amnesty and calls for international condemnation, the government has shown no signs of backing down from its anti-gang campaign, with the Minister of Justice and Security promising to continue the war against criminal organizations until they are eradicated.

The international community has been urged to respond more robustly to the human rights crisis in El Salvador, with Amnesty highlighting the need for a condemnation of any public security model that relies on human rights violations. President Bukele has been accused of creating a false illusion of finding a simple solution to the country’s complex issues of violence and criminality, while the government remains committed to its aggressive anti-gang policies. As Bukele enters his second term in office, concerns persist about the impact of his administration’s actions on human rights and the rule of law in El Salvador.

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