Making "exceptional measures" the norm

Since March 2016, El Salvador has had in place a series of "exceptional measures" to combat gang violence in the country.   These steps include measures in the prisons such as harsh solitary confinement for gang chiefs, elimination of visits to inmates, blocking of cell phone signals around prisons, as well as longer pretrial detention, more use of the military, and greater freedom of security forces to use deadly force in pursuit of suspected gang members.   Some of these measures are authorized explicitly by the exceptional measures decree, and others are simply an ever harsher approach to crime fighting.

This week the director of the National Civilian Police, Howard Cotto, indicated that he thought the measures should be made permanent because they were "showing results."   Primarily Cotto is pointing to a reduction in the level of homicides from 2016 to 2017 of more than 25%.   Yet at the same time, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of police, soldiers and prison guards being killed by the gangs and increasing reports of extra-judicial killings by the security forces.

Cotto has also been quoted warning that the gangs may seek to make corrupt deals with the political parties to influence the 2018 elections by offering to help a political party which would agree to end the exceptional measures.

Making the exceptional measures permanent would seem to run afoul of El Salvador's constitution which allows certain constitutional guarantees to be suspended during period of emergencies, but requires in Articles 29-31 that such suspensions only last during the actual time of the emergency.

The suggestion that the measures be rendered permanent runs directly contrary to the urging of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who has stated:
The Extraordinary Security Measures... have placed thousands of people in prolonged and isolated detention under truly inhumane conditions, and with prolonged suspension of family visits. The vulnerability of these inmates is highlighted by an outbreak of tuberculosis, affecting more than a thousand inmates, with several hundred also said to be suffering from malnutrition. I called on the President to end the extraordinary measures and grant international independent organisations, including my Office, access to these detention centres.
Going into an election year, get tough with criminals policies are always politically popular.  Consideration for the rights of those affected by the harsh exceptional measures does not win votes.   I fear that the most that human rights advocates can hope for is keeping the exceptional measures "exceptional."


Since when does the Constitution matter? They have been using "exceptional meassures" since the 1990s!