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World

El Salvador Mulls Suspending Some Rights as Crime Spikes

The explosion in violence levels has made President Salvador Sánchez Cern considering the possibility of declaring a state of emergency

Activists participate in a march to mark International Women's Dayin San Salvador
By Reuters Whatsapp Twitter Facebook Share
2 years ago

SAN SALVADOR – El Salvador could declare a state of emergency, suspending some constitutional rights, to fight the alarming wave of gang violence that has pushed murder rates to record levels, the government said on Tuesday.

Activist set crosses in front of a court house with the names of slain women during a march. Photo: Reuters/José Cabezas.

Activist set crosses in front of a court house with the names of slain women during a march. Photo: Reuters/José Cabezas.

Leftist President Salvador Sánchez Cerén met with the Supreme Court, legislature and public prosecutor’s office to discuss the legal viability of actions such as prohibiting meetings and free movement, or tapping into mail, phone calls and social media, officials said.

The small, impoverished Central American state ranks among the world’s most violent, with criminal gangs controlling chunks of territory. Murders jumped almost 120 percent in the first two months of this year compared to 2015.

Just last week, gangs were fingered for 11 deaths in a rural part of the country.

A message threatening gang rivals is seen left on a wall next to MS-13 gang-related graffiti, as violence escalates. Photo: Reuters/José Cabezas.

A message threatening gang rivals is seen left on a wall next to MS-13 gang-related graffiti, as violence escalates. Photo: Reuters/José Cabezas.

The constitution allows the government to declare a state of emergency in cases of war, invasion, uprising or sedition, which would restrict free movement, freedom of expression and meetings, and suspend the privacy of traditional and electronic correspondence.

The opposition party is also in favor of any measures, but labor unions fear such methods could be used against them.

Eugenio Chicas, communications secretary, told reporters the government was considering a range of measures and would make the decision in coming days.

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