El Salvador - July 2023
Organized Crime Law reform and decree harshen prosecution of organized crime
The Legislative Assembly approved reforms to the Organized Crime Law that will increase sentences for gang leaders and will temporarily enable mass trials of up to 900 defendants as part of the structure of a criminal enterprise, instead of being processed individually. Mass hearings and arraignments had already taken place and been criticised by UN and human rights experts as infringing due process rights, including presumption of innocence. El Salvador now has the world’s highest incarceration rate, and mass incarceration during the country’s state of emergency has led to a significant backlog in cases, which is how the government justifies the measure. To this day, nearly 72,000 people have been detained, accused of collaborating or participating in gangs.