El Salvador: International organizations call on president Bukele to respect human rights in response to COVID-19

In light of the measures implemented by president Nayib Bukele to contain the pandemic, including the detention of people in forced confinement for breaching the quarantine, Amnesty International, the Center for Justice and International Law, the Due Process of Law Foundation, the Washington Office on Latin America, and the Mesoamerican Initiative for Women Human Rights Defenders published an open letter to the president today expressing concern about the Salvadoran government’s actions.  

“Today we collectively call on president Bukele to lead a public health strategy to protect the population and their rights in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government must immediately reverse those measures that, far from serving health purposes, have only led to multiple reports of alleged human rights violations, including arbitrary detentions and excessive use of force,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

“The authorities have detained thousands of people and taken them to holding centres that often lack measures to ensure a minimum level of sanitation and physical separation. With this strategy, the government only increases the risk of contagion instead of protecting people from the virus. Moreover, the detention of people who go out in search of water, food or medicine disproportionately affects those living in poverty. El Salvador needs comprehensive solutions that address inequality and the causes that drive many people to go out to meet their basic needs.”

“President Bukele’s comments have once again sounded alarm bells among the international community. His public messages that call for non-compliance with the rulings of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, encourage security forces to implement violent measures, and discredit human rights organizations are unacceptable. The government is on a very dangerous path that violates the rule of law and human rights.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Lucy Scholey, Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada (English branch), 613-853-2142, lscholey@amnesty.ca

Read more:

Open letter from international organizations to Salvadoran president Nayib Bukele (Letter, 30 April 2020) https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr29/2234/2020/en/