El Salvador: Twitter user critical of President Bukele criminally prosecuted
A court in El Salvador began the preliminary investigation stage in a criminal proceeding against the Twitter user Luis Rivas, a government critic
September 6, 2022 3:44pm
Updated: September 6, 2022 7:31pm
A court in El Salvador began the preliminary investigation stage in a criminal proceeding against the Twitter user Luis Rivas, a government critic, on charges of "contempt" against the public administration and President Nayib Bukele, local media reported on Monday.
Rivas, known on Twitter as "El Comisionado," was arrested on August 21 after allegedly sharing a photograph of security personnel on a beach who were accompanying one of Bukele's brothers.
The initial hearing against Rivas was held in the Second Peace Court of San Salvador. He was granted conditional release and a bail of $10,000, according to local media citing judicial sources.
Rivas is being accused of contempt "to the detriment of the Public Administration and the President of the Republic," according to a statement by the account of the Justice of El Salvador shared on social media. The post, however, was later deleted, although several local media had already shared the information, reported EFE.
The Attorney General's Office has neither confirmed nor denied this version.
According to researcher Juan Pappier of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), "the crime of contempt, provided for in Salvadoran legislation, contradicts international standards on freedom of expression," he posted on Twitter.
El Salvador's Penal Code establishes that contempt of court carries penalties of between six months and three years of imprisonment.
However, if the crime is against the president "the penalty may be increased by up to one-third of its maximum," according to the Penal Code.
This is not the first time that Salvadoran authorities have detained a critic of Bukele’s government.
In September 2021, the El Salvador Police arrested Mario Gomez, an IT and cryptocurrency specialist who criticized the implementation of bitcoin in the Central American country.
Gómez was captured as part of an "investigation," according to the National Civil Police (PNC) at the time. He was released hours after his arrest.
On August 18, the Salvadoran authorities approved the extension of the state of emergency for the fifth time in order to "protect the security of Salvadorans."
Momento en que Luis Rivas sale de audiencia. Los agentes policiales fueron agresivos con los periodistas que daban cobertura. pic.twitter.com/TDI79daF53— LPGJudicial (@LPGJudicial) September 5, 2022