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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

State of Exception in El Salvador

Monday, September 12, 2022 - 12:00pm
Virtual via Cisco WebEx


Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a hearing on the ongoing state of exception in El Salvador and its consequences for human rights.

On March 27, following an explosion of violence that resulted in 62 homicides in a single day, reportedly due to the rupture of negotiations between the government of El Salvador and gang leaders, President Nayib Bukele requested and the national assembly approved a state of exception that suspended the rights to freedom of expression, association and due process. Initially authorized for 30 days, the state of exception has been renewed five times and remains in force. Domestic and international human rights organizations, the State Department, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights have raised concerns about human rights violations occurring due to the implementation of the state of exception. According to official sources, as of August 23, 2022, more than 50,000 individuals, whom Salvadoran officials have variously referred to as “criminals” and “terrorists,” had been detained under the state of exception. Of these, 44,000 had been placed in indefinite preventive detention in overcrowded prisons with little or no access to counsel or evidence presented against them. Also as of August, at least nine prominent Salvadoran journalists have fled the country after being harassed, threatened and surveilled in the aftermath of a new media law penalizing some reporting on criminal groups. The situation reinforces concerns over growing authoritarian tendencies and deteriorating rule of law in El Salvador and the Central American region.

Witnesses will examine the implications of the state of exception and discuss how to strengthen support for human rights and rule of law in El Salvador in the current context.

    The hearing will be virtual. Pursuant to H. Res. 965, Member of Congress and witnesses will participate remotely via Cisco WebEx. Members of the public and the media may view the hearing by live webcast on the Commission website. The hearing will also be available for viewing on the House Digital Channel service. For any questions, please contact Kimberly Stanton (for Co-Chair McGovern) or Piero Tozzi (for Co-Chair Smith). 

    Hosted by:

    James P. McGovern
    Member of Congress
    Co-Chair, TLHRC
    Christopher H. Smith
    Member of Congress
    Co-Chair, TLHRC

    Opening Remarks


    Panel I         

    • Emily Mendrala, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, State Department
      Written testimony
    • Scott Busby, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, State Department
      Written testimony

    Panel II          


    Submitted for the Record


    117th Congress