Security & Strategic Review - June 2020

EL SALVADOR: Bukele’s pandemic response sparks human rights concerns

Since the start of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, human rights institutions like the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) have underlined that while governments have had to adopt emergency measures to contain the pandemic, which may imply the temporary restriction of certain rights, such measures should be necessary, proportionate, and enacted within a framework of respect for international human rights norms. One leader whose response has frequently attracted concern in this regard is El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele. While his government’s measures have drawn criticism for violating basic human rights, his more general willingness to take authoritarian steps and disregard the country’s institutions have led figures like the head of the OHCHR Michelle Bachelet to warn of the possible erosion of the rule of law.

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