Torture and Killings of El Salvador Gang Members in Prisons Rise After Crackdown

At least 153 suspected gang members in El Salvador have been tortured and killed in prison since the country's government jailed tens of thousands of people in a crackdown on street gangs in March 2022.

The report from human rights group Cristosal reveals that nearly half of the victims suffered violent deaths, with their bodies showing signs of asphyxiation, fractures, and lacerations.

Four women were among those killed, and most of the deaths were the result of torture.

None of the prisoners who died had been officially convicted of the crime they were accused of committing at the time of their arrest.

The report suggests that punitive policies carried out by guards and prison officials required authorization and backing by the highest level security officials.

The government opened a mega-prison earlier this year to house some 40,000 suspected gang members.

El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele has been praised for his efforts to improve security in the country, but critics have accused him of using emergency powers to violate human rights.

The human rights group has released a report on the trial of former El Salvador President Mauricio Funes, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for allegedly negotiating with gangs during his administration.

Funes was living in Nicaragua during his trial and was convicted of illicit association and failure to perform his duties for the gang truce negotiated in 2012.

His former Security Minister, Gen.

David Munguía Payes, was also sentenced to 18 years in prison for his involvement in the negotiations.

The former president was granted Nicaraguan citizenship in 2019, which prevents extradition.