A report by the humanitarian organization Cristosal states that at least 160 people have died in the custody of state security agents in El Salvador. These situations occur during the emergency regime established by Nayib Bukele with the aim of combating gangs.

The lawyer Zaira Navas, legal head of the State of Justice and Security of Cristosal, explained during the presentation that it is the first time, through an investigation, that “the deaths that occurred in the penal centers are verified and documented, so is said to be in the custody of the state”.

Between March 27, 2022 and March 27, 2023, they documented 139 deaths in custody. “I clarify that this does not mean that only they died, because there are testimonies and evidence (indicating) that many (deceased) were buried in common graves,” he said.

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Of that number of deaths, four are women and almost half correspond to people between the ages of 18 and 38.

Navas also pointed out that until April, the number of deaths increased since Cristosal documented 153 cases and that until last Friday, May 26, “160 people had been found dead in state custody.”

The report identified patterns of deaths resulting from torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; Cuts, bruises caused by blows, injuries with sharp or blunt objects, strangulation, hanging and other signs of torture were found on the corpses, he emphasizes.

It indicates that some reports from the Institute of Legal Medicine (IML) list mechanical asphyxia or submersion as the cause of death and in some cases the correlation between the recorded cause of death and the condition of the corpse is “not consistent,” it adds. .

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The report explains that to obtain the information, Cristosal conducted field investigations, including in mass graves, collected extensive photographic documentation of the bodies and obituaries of the IML, as well as interviews with relatives, neighbours, acquaintances of the deceased and persons who were detained.

El Salvador has been in the middle of the emergency regime for over a year and over 69,000 arrests have been recorded. The international community has warned of alleged human rights violations, mainly involving arbitrary detentions.