A human rights agenda for El Salvador

At the end of June, Amnesty International, met with the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, to deliver a set of recommendations concerning the human rights situation in El Salvador.  The brief deals with the need to assess responsibility for historic human rights abuses in the civil war, the rights of women and girls, the need to protect human rights defenders, the needs of migrants,  human rights in public security and policing, and adherence to international human rights commitments.

Bukele has frequently voiced a commitment to human rights standards, but the level of his commitment to human rights is most in question as he deploys a mano dura / iron fist approach in his Territorial Control Plan to combat gang violence in the country.  Adding to the security presence on the streets of the country, Bukele announced that the armed forces will recruit another 3000 soldiers to engage in domestic crime fighting actions. 

El Salvador’s police and armed forces are not known for their attention to human rights.  This reflects the sentiment of the Salvadoran population as a whole.   According to a recently published poll, 81.2% of Salvadorans are in favor of Bukele’s Territorial Control Plan, so there is little political cost for Bukele in allowing troops wide latitude in policing.  

Similarly, he has not shown much interest in the need for protection of human rights defenders, instead taking a rhetorical approach of asserting that anyone who criticizes his approach must be siding with the gangs against the Salvadoran people.

With respect to the rights of migrants who have fled El Salvador, Bukele acknowledges that the country is responsible for addressing the conditions which lead migrants to leave.   He has largely refused, however, to criticize the Trump administration with respect to its treatment of immigrants in detention.


David Amdur said…
So he is continuing the tradition of ignoring human rights, giving only lip service to protecting human rights workers, further implementing draconian and repressive solutions to "resolve" crime and violence in El Salvador, and bows to Trump and doesn't speak out for the human rights of Salvadorans forcibly displaced by U.S. backed neoliberal austerity. Que Viva El Presidente Millennial. Hopefully he won't become like Duterte in the Philippines.
Don said…
This idea that Bukele's security policy is a continuation of previous policies is incorrect. In the past the mano dura security measures were never carried out and never actually lasted long in dangerous communities. Bukele has shown an ability to manage law enforcement and the army correctly to provide security. There can always be human rights abuses when you are working with law enforcement. However, Bukele has stated that they will not tolerate any abuses by the police or army. Take a look at this:


Also, why would Bukele criticize Trump? How would that benefit any Salvadoran? Bukele has to manage the relationship with the U.S. government perfectly to get the right result. Lives are on the line, but for some reason, people are calling on Bukele to posture. Criticizing Trump's concentration camps won't have any positive effect for Salvadorans. Bukele is trying to convince the U.S. government that his government is doing what it has to in order to stop forced migration. That should not be considered bowing to Trump. Sure, you can blame U.S. backed neoliberal austerity for the problems that we face today until you're blue in the face. But when you're finished criticizing the U.S. (your biggest trade partner and the place where millions of Salvadorans live) you are still going to be sitting in a country without security and opportunity. Bukele is letting his actions do the talking.

If you say that Bukele is not interested in protecting human rights workers, then you should provide proof. Bukele is interested in protecting everybody, including human rights workers.
Don said…
If you look at the number of murders in El Salvador, they are down from 10-12 to 2 per day since Bukele's security plan started.
Greg said…
Bukele has a significant resource base of human rights experts on which he is drawing for an objective and realistic policy, long term. To infer he is the Source or should be is inaccurate.

Also, U.S. Immigration policy is a U.S. matter and to date it has been one of the most porous in the world. Witness the immigration policies of Mexico, Central and South America, for example. Far more stringent and potentially violent if one does not follow their processes.

"Concentration camps"? The application of that term is a tactic of those whose arguments are weak in and of themselves - spurious and distorted for an agenda not in the best interests of anyone trying to mend the problem. If you want to see concentration camps do the research beginning with Nazi Germany and Stalin's Russia...fast forward to the "re-education camps" of post war Vietnam...North Korea...take a Google tour of Images for the war in Bosnia/Kosovo...those are concentration camps.

Keep it real.
David Amdur said…
Actually, research on concentration camps should also include the treatment, detention, and extermination of Native Americans during the 19th century in this country by the United States government and military. The Nazis and Hitler took interest in and studied how the U.S. did it. The British set up concentration camps in South Africa during the Boer War in the 1890s. The Colonial forces of the Imperial German Army set concentration camps from 1904-1908 in German South-West Africa (now Namibia) as part of its genocide of the Herero and Namaqua peoples. Those are also concentration camps, the original ones. The Belgians under King Leopold massacres millions in the Congo. If one talks about Vietnam, then look at a massive aerial bombardment by the USAF/USN/USMC in South Vietnam alone that was greater than all the bombs dropped in WWII and 40,000 people killed in the counter-insurgency killings of Operation Phoenix in South Vietnam by the U.S. military and intelligence