El Salvador commits a crime by displaying gang-related messages in the media | Media News

The country’s Association of Journalists called the act an ‘clear censorship attempt’.

El Salvador’s parliament has approved President Nayib Bukele’s request to criminalize gang-related messages in the media, including news outlets, in order to control mass killings. increasing in Latin America.

Tuesday’s move, which includes sentences of 10 to 15 years for offenders, comes amid a government crackdown on gangs that have led to one of the world’s highest murder rates. . The crackdown, including Bukele call for emergency powers suspending some constitutional rights in February, has led to concerns about human rights violations.

“When the Germans wanted to destroy Nazism, they legally banned all Nazi symbols, as well as messages, apologies and everything that was intended to promote Nazism.” Bukele wrote on Twitter. “Now we’re going to do the same thing with the gang.”

The penal code reform applies to those who “reproduce and transmit messages or communications that originate or are believed to originate from the aforementioned criminal groups that may cause anxiety and panic.” fear in the general population”.

The measure also targets people who “mark” their territory with acronyms, a reference to a common practice gang members use to intimidate people who report them to authorities.

The new policy was quickly met with “concern” from El Salvador’s association of journalists about what it called an “apparent censorship attempt”.

In a statement, the group considered the measure a “silent” reform, saying it “threatens to imprison media and journalists who report on a practice the current administration has faced. .. is trying to hide.”

They called the measure a “new tool to criminalize journalistic work.”

El Salvador declared a state of emergency on March 27, three days after intense violence of which the government registered 87 murders, 62 of which occurred in a single day.

In the days since, Salvadoran authorities have arrested 6,312 alleged gang members.

Last week, Congress increased the maximum prison sentence for gang members from nine years to 45 years. The government has also increased the maximum prison sentence for children and will allow young people to be tried as adults for the most serious crimes, and serve their sentences in adult prisons rather than juvenile detention facilities.

On Tuesday, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern about the government’s approach, citing “alleged cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”.

“In addition to the state of emergency, we are extremely concerned about certain amendments to criminal law and criminal procedure,” said office spokeswoman Liz Throssell.

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