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"The state of emergency was implemented in Honduras under questioning and rejection by human rights defenders and other sectors of society, who asserted that the measure places the population in a situation of greater vulnerability. A recent report by the National Human Rights Commissioner (CONDAEH) states that approximately 60% of the police interventions reported as successful actions by the Security Secretariat took place in localities other than Tegucigalpa, Comayagüela and San Pedro Sula (...). The director of Conadeh's National Human Rights Observatory, Carlos Joaquín Méndez, in an interview with Criterio.hn stated that they have found that police interventions do not require the suspension of guarantees or a measure as restrictive as the one currently in place in Honduras. In Méndez's opinion, there is an urgent need to implement structural measures in the country, to adopt a comprehensive approach strategy that involves public policies and not a state of exception, "this is an exceptional measure for exceptional situations", he revealed."

News Article

January 11, 2023 marked a grim milestone; the 21st anniversary of the opening of the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Nearly 800 predominately Muslim men and boys have been held in indefinite detention at Guantánamo for years without trial, some of whom were tortured in violation of international law. Only two have ever been convicted of a crime. Hundreds of lives have been destroyed and recent stories have emerged of the continued punishment faced by these men even after they are released.

Today, at a cost of $540 million per year, thirty-five men remain imprisoned at Guantánamo. Twenty-three of these men have never been charged with a crime, and twenty have already been recommended for transfer. You can see the names of those who have been transferred or still held in detention here

News Article

On February 9. 2002 the United States, without a verdict, sent the Yemenite Mansoor Adayfi to Guantánamo. Without a trial and the ability to defend himself, Mansoor was imprisoned for more than 14 years. During his time in Guantánamo, he took part in a number of hunger strikes.

Following his release in 2016, Mansoor found himself stranded in Serbia. Instead of returning him to his home-country of Yemen, the US dropped him off in a foreign country without language skills, access to healthcare, a job, or the ability to visit his family. In Serbia, Mansoor started another hunger strike, this time to protest his conditions and demand to be transferred to an Arab country. He was unsuccessfull. In his new "home" Serbia, where a tabloid ran a two-page spread calling him a terrorist, it's next to impossible to find friends or a job. 

The repression and stigmatization reached its peak 2017, when reporters interviewing Mansoor were stopped and questioned by Serbian police. The following day Serbian men forced their way into Mansoor's apartment and searched it. Later, he called a reporter to show him hidden cameras he found in his apartment. In the interview, Mansoor said he felt like he was still in prison.

 The United States government has a responsibility to uphold rehabilitation and reintegration after release from Guantánamo.

News Article

In the Tapachula area of southern Mexico, more and more arriving immigrants are left stranded as they strive for a safer life. In the area activists of the Colectivo de Observación y Monitoreo de Derechos Humanos en el Sureste Méxicano, monitoring migration movements, point out massive human rights violations and unfair treatment at the asylum application centers.

With many of the arriving migrants being Haitian or African, the lack of translators and general holdback of information leads to confusion, leaving immigrants stuck in the rain, no access to basic human needs like clean water, a roof over their heads or sanitary facilities. Furthermore, the activists reaffirm their denouncement of 

- the spread of misinformation on asylum and immigration regulations by the authorities

- authorities handing over personal documents in a discriminatory way and through corrupt processes

- authorities improvising measures putting people's health at risk

- the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR) setting review appointments up to September 13, leaving immigrants stuck without the ability to work or take part in society. 

Until their process appointment,  the individuals are tied to a temporary security status (Multiple Migration Form, MMF) allowing them to stay in Chiapas state but denying permission to travel throughout the country. Immigrants caught outside of the Chiapas area are met with detention or even deportation. Especially vulnerable are migrants from Central and South America bringing many young children.

We demand a treatment with dignity and the upholding of human rights by the Mexican government for individuals fleeing war, violence, natural disasters and poverty.   

News Article

El Salvador: Widespread Abuses Under State of Emergency

After interviewing more than 1,100 victims (or their relatives) of the government’s State of Emergency, Cristosal and Human Rights Watch released in December 2022 an 89-page report, “‘We Can Arrest Anyone We Want’: Widespread Human Rights Violations Under El Salvador’s ‘State of Emergency’” , which documents mass arbitrary detention, torture and other forms of ill-treatment against detainees, enforced disappearances, deaths in custody, and abuse-ridden prosecutions. President Nayib Bukele’s swift dismantling of judicial independence since he took office in mid-2019 enabled the abuses. Human Rights Watch and Cristosal have not been able to identify any meaningful investigations into the hundreds of allegations of human rights violations committed during the State of Emergency.

Since the State of Emergency (aka State of Exception) was declared in El Salvador in March of 2022, the country has seen thousands of power abuse cases by the military and other security forces. Many arbitrary arrests appear to have been driven by a policy of “quotas” imposed by commanders in the National Civil Police, according to police officers. Between March and November 2022, security forces arrested more than 58,000 people:

-1,600 children

-hundreds of arrests without connections to gangs

-51,000 in pre-trail detention 

-a spike in the prison population from 39,000 in March 2022 to 95,000 in November 2022

-overcrowded cells with up to 125 prisoners in cells constructed for 30

-90 deaths in prison without investigation

-up to 500 sentenced in unjust mass judicial processes.

These circumstances are fueled by authorities requiring certain numbers of daily arrests, intimidating independent judges who are trying to investigate human rights violations, and stigmatizing independent journalists and civil society groups. This paired with the lack of access to lawyers makes for a system in which no one is safe from unjust arrests.

More and more voices are calling for alternative strategies to fight organized crime. Civil society groups and activists criticize the government’s failure to:

-invest in prevention and reintegration

-address illegal economies helping gangs

 

New strategies would include tackling root causes of gang membership, such as:  

-high levels of poverty

-social exclusion

-focus criminal persecution on high level gang leaders.

State violence and mass arrests are only two of the ways in which the Salvadoran government is crushing down on its population. Civil society groups are calling for international support for independent journalists and grassroots organizing groups that are under attack. Furthermore, the groups call on the international community to suspend existing loans involving the National Civil Police, armed forces, the Attorney General’s Office and the prison system.

Read the full report at https://www.hrw.org/report/2022/12/07/we-can-arrest-anyone-we-want/widespread-human-rights-violations-under-el

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News Article

After nine months, the Salvadoran Congress has once again voted for an extension of the ongoing State of Emergency (aka State of Exception) in the country. This marks the tenth extension and will be in effect from January 17 until February 15. The extension was passed with 67 votes in favor, an immense approval rate in a Congress with only 84 seats. President Bukele justifies this by claiming that 80% of the country is controlled by gangs, with Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) and Barrio 18 being the largest with an estimated membership of 70,000 members between both of them.

Earlier this month the Salvadoran government announced a drop of 56.8% in the country's murder rate. But the government's number of 496 registered homicides is questionable at best. Many deaths are never registered, and killings during clashes between gang members and security forces are not included. Civil rights groups have counted at least 600 killings in 2022. With the State of Emergency going into its 11th month, activists and rights groups keep articulating concerns about power abuses by security forces. 

The official detention numbers since March 2022 have risen to 61,000 detentions. In January, Human Rights Watch published a statement putting forward the fact that "hundreds of people with no connections to gangs have been detained." 

News Article

Expanding the State of Exception Smells of Danger and Is Associated with Possible Police Abuses.   Leticia Salomón, a sociologist and researcher, is of the opinion that suspending constitutional guarantees always smells of danger and is associated with the excesses that the police can commit when capturing alleged suspects of committing criminal actions and that result in human rights violations.

Mirna Flores, a violence and security researchers, issued a warning: “It must be taken into account that as the state of exception expands, it can be perpetuated, and strengthen an authoritarian culture, and we cannot continue emulating a system like the one in El Salvador, based on arrests and full jails,” he says. Flowers.

For Flores, it is necessary to counteract the “strong hand” discourse, and that the State implement comprehensive measures that give new opportunities to youth. "Criminal gangs must be forcefully attacked, but this is done institutionally, with a reliable and efficient police force, that is not corrupt and that earns the trust of the citizenry and with citizens that from the municipalities participate in the strategies of security.

News Article

The author of this opinion article, Fidelina Alfaro, a member of the New Jersey TPS Committee, has lived and worked in the United States for 21 years. In 1995 the mother of two migrated to the US in the hope of a safe and better life and to provide education for her children. In 2001, following a massive earthquake in El Salvador, Alfaro was granted Temporary Protection Status (TPS), which provides protection from deportation to countries wrecked by violence, war and natural disasters. Even though the U.S. government has just extended TPS for El Salvador, Alfaro, like thousands more, live in constant fear that their TPS will expire and attempts to end TPS. For this reason, Alfaro has written this article. 

In her 21 years of TPS, Alfaro has regularly worked two jobs to pay for a college education for her daughter. During the Covid pandemic, she worked as a caretaker, putting herself in danger regularly. 

Alfaro advocates for the right of TPS  holders to apply for citizenship and become full members of US society, with the right to vote, travel and the end of the constant fear of deportation. This goal could be accomplished by the American Dream and Promise Act, as well as through the Registry Act.

IRTF supports Alfaro's call for the right to citizenship of TPS holders and demands an end to taxation without representation and basic citizen rights!   

News Article

On January 11, the Witness Against Torture collective will hold its annual days of fasting and protest in Washington, DC, to Shut Down Guantánamo! IRTF staff and volunteers will take part.

Leading up to this, we will share stories of inmates, their treatment by the media and more.

Our first post tells the story of Khaled Qassim, who was imprisoned in 2002 without charges. Despite President Obama's promise to close Guantánamo and a 2022 clearance for release, Khaled is still held in the torture facility.

This post also includes a description of ways you can help shut down Guantánamo and support former inmates and detainees cleared for release who are still imprisoned there. 

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