El Salvador to hold mass trials of up to 900 gang members with same verdict

A country in Central America is wanting to hold mass trials of up to 900 accused gang members with the same verdict.

The wild mass trial would see 900 defendants trialled in El Salvador as part of a massive crackdown on crime throughout the country.

Legislation to cover the legal proceedings is already underway, following 70,000 people being arrested after President Nayib Bukele declared a state of emergency.

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The state of emergency was declared 16 months ago and now government officials are preparing to allow up to 900 defendants to be prosecuted at a time for "illicit association", which sees people charged as part of the same criminal cell.

The mass arrests that came over the course of the state of lockdown are reportedly cutting into homicide numbers, with less reports of murder and crime in the area.

Those mass arrests appear to have had an impact on the popularity of the president too.

Subsequent changes to the penal code and the potential for mass lawsuits have seen calls of concern from local and international human rights watchdog groups.

Security analyst Jeannette Aguilar, speaking to VICE, warned of the "serious risk" the lockdown period poses to the population and those who are already in confinement.

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He said: "This practice is illegal and from every point of view, violates the principle of innocence. It’s abhorrent and represents a serious risk of threat in general to the population."

Aguilar further noted the government changes "are perverse reforms in terms of the violation of fundamental guarantees of due process of human rights".

A state of emergency was declared back in March 2022 after an escalation of violence, with the government alleging 80% of the country was under the control of criminal gangs.

Expert Aguilar added: "A policy that is based on mass arrests and not a comprehensive approach to violence, that includes why more children and young people join these groups, is not addressing the root causes."

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