Opening the “mega-prison” is the latest step in a controversial crackdown on crime that has caused the central American nation’s prison population to soar.
On Friday, around 2 thousand accused gang members were moved to the 40 thousand-person capacity prison, which is considered the largest in the Americas. Prisoners stripped down to white shorts, with their heads shaved, are seen running through the new prison into cells. Many have gang tattoos on their body.
The president of El Salvador asked their congress to pass a state of exception last year that would suspend some constitutional rights after a dramatic spike in murders attributed to violent gangs. Since then, more than 64 thousand suspects have been arrested in the anticrime dragnet. Arrests can be made without a warrant, private communications are accessible by the government, and detainees no longer have the right to a lawyer.
Human rights organizations argue that innocent people have been caught up in the policy, including at least dozens who have died in police custody.