The Terrorism Confinement Center, El Salvador’s “mega-prison,” houses 4,000 prisoners. Many of them are gang members and several prisoners are there awaiting trial.
Humanitarian organizations condemn the conditions in which the prisoners are held. However, the country’s president claims that it is justifiable because of the crimes they have committed.
“The gang members are alive and in jail awaiting trial, but our heroes are not,” El Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele said. “Our heroes were murdered. They have families, mothers, children, wives and husbands.”
The prison was opened in February 2023. But the surge of arrests began in March 2022. Human rights organizations criticize the serious legal violations regarding the prisoners arrested at that time.
“Director for the Protection of Human Rights, Archbishopric of San Salvador
Obviously, innocent people have been arrested,” Fr. Luis Salazar said. “I say this with conviction.”
In one cell of about 300 square feet, as many as 100 gang members are housed. They have two sinks, two toilets and their bed is a sheet of iron without a mattress.
The national state of emergency made it possible to dismantle criminal organizations that had been established in El Salvador since the 1980s. Since then, the National Civil Police have recorded a historic decline in murders, but mass arrests have led to unjust criminal charges.