The government of El Salvador has begun the transfer of thousands of convicts to the newly opened, huge prison, which is becoming the largest penitentiary facility in the Americas. It is to accommodate up to 30-40 thousand people. The country’s president showed a shocking video of the first large transport of prisoners. Human rights defenders talk about the many innocent people who, as part of government special operations, ended up behind bars in the past year and now suffer with real criminals around them.
The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, who declared war on criminal organizations almost a year ago, announced the start of transports to the new facility. “This will be their new home where they will live for decades, all mixed up, unable to cause further harm to others,” he wrote on social media.
The video, which Bukele posted on social media, shows large groups of prisoners being transported in buses. You can also see the inside of the factory they went to. The convicts – almost all of them shaved bald, barefoot, almost naked, with their hands behind their heads and bent in half, urged by the guards – run and take the places indicated to them on the seats, the floor and in the cells.
Eight buildings, 32 cells each, two washbasins for over 100 people
The prison is located about 70 kilometers from the country’s capital San Salvador and, according to the BBC, consists of eight huge buildings. Each of them has 32 cells with an area of about 100 square meters. Each of them is to accommodate over 100 prisoners. The cells have only two sinks and two toilets, the British broadcaster points out.
The BBC recalls that President Bukele declared a “war on gangs” in March last year, introducing emergency measures that were extended several times. They arouse much controversy. They restrict certain constitutional rights, for example, allowing security forces to arrest suspects without a warrant.
In total, more than 64,000 people suspected of crimes were arrested in less than a year.
Organizations human rights they claim that many innocent people have been victims of this campaign, with some detainees reporting that they were subjected to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”.
Bukele’s self-proclaimed war on gangs is popular among Salvadorans, with the country’s security minister saying it will continue until all criminals are caught.
Main photo source: EPA/Government of El Salvador