September 29, 2022

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Violence and Threats to Free Speech in El Salvador

11 min read

Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State

The United States government is concerned about violence in El Salvador and the passage and implementation of the April 5 Criminal Code amendment by the Legislative Assembly criminalizing reporting on certain gang activities. The law lends itself to attempts to censor the media, prevent reporting on corruption and other matters of public interest, and silence critics of the Salvadoran government.

Journalists must have the freedom to do their jobs without fear of violence, threats, or unjust detention.

We continue to support El Salvador in its efforts to reduce the proliferation of gangs. Since 2008, we have invested $411 million to improve citizen security and help the Salvadoran government combat gang violence. Examples include the construction of a state-of-the-art forensics lab in Nuevo Cuscatlan, and assistance to reclaim and renovate public spaces such as Parque Cuscatlan.

We are deeply concerned by the spike in violence and homicides committed by the MS-13 and the Barrio 18 gangs in El Salvador on March 25, 26, and 27.

Gangs pose a threat to the national security of El Salvador and the United States. We urge El Salvador to address this threat while also protecting vital civil liberties, including freedom of the press, due process, and freedom of speech.

Now more than ever it is essential to extradite gang leaders to face justice in the United States.

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