El Salvador’s President Bukele Touts Gang Crackdown Success at U.N. General Assembly

El Salvador’s President Bukele Touts Gang Crackdown Success at U.N. General Assembly

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele proudly declared the success of his administration’s crackdown on gangs during his speech at the U.N. General Assembly. He credited the strong will of his administration for defying international criticism, specifically regarding human rights violations.

Bukele emphasized that if El Salvador had listened to external critics, the country would still hold the infamous title of murder capital of the world. However, he adamantly stated that the debate was over and that the decisions made by his administration have been effective in combating violence. He proclaimed that El Salvador is now a model of security, supported by undeniable results.

Under a state of emergency declared in March 2022 due to a surge in gang violence, over 72,000 individuals have been arrested. The special powers granted to Bukele by Congress led to the suspension of certain fundamental rights, such as access to a lawyer and knowledge of the reason for arrest.

Critics argue that this crackdown lacks due process, resulting in the arrest of innocent people. Thousands have been released due to insufficient evidence of gang ties. The United Nations human rights office expressed concern about widespread human rights violations, unsubstantiated arrests, and in-custody deaths.

Despite international criticism, Bukele’s security policies enjoy significant popularity within El Salvador. They are likely to be a focal point of his re-election campaign next year, even though the country’s constitution prohibits immediate re-election. However, Bukele’s supporters in the Legislative Assembly have appointed court justices who allow for this circumvention.

Bukele highlighted the positive impact of his security policies on Salvadoran society. Citizens can now walk their neighborhoods without fear and allow their children to play outside without the constant threat of gang recruitment and violence. This significant shift in safety is evident as El Salvador’s homicide rate drastically decreases.

In 2015, El Salvador was considered one of the most violent countries globally, with 6,656 recorded homicides, equating to around 106 per 100,000 people. Comparatively, this year, the National Civil Police recorded 146 homicides as of September 18, marking a decrease of over 72% compared to the same period in the previous year.

– UN Human Rights Office
– United Nations General Assembly

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