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FACT CHECK: Was A ‘Huge Percentage’ Of Deported Salvadorans Killed Or Harmed Upon Return To El Salvador?

Brad Sylvester on February 11, 2020

The Daily Beast published an article Feb. 5 that said a Human Rights Watch report shows “a huge percentage of migrants and asylum seekers from El Salvador who were deported by the United States have been killed, raped or tortured after returning home.”


Verdict: False

The Human Rights Watch report does not establish or attempt to establish a percentage of total deportees who were harmed or killed upon return to El Salvador. Researchers and writers of the report confirmed that there is no way to use its findings to calculate such a percentage.

Fact Check:

Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization that tracks human rights abuses, released a Feb. 5 report, titled “Deported to Danger: United States Deportation Policies Expose Salvadorans to Death and Abuse,” that outlines some of the dangers faced by Salvadorans who are deported from the U.S. back to El Salvador, which has one of the highest homicide rates in the world.

Numerous media outlets, including NBC NewsThe Associated Press and the Daily Beast, reported on Human Rights Watch’s findings.

“A huge percentage of migrants and asylum seekers from El Salvador who were deported by the United States have been killed, raped or tortured after returning home,” wrote the Daily Beast, citing the Human Rights Watch study.

But that statement from the Daily Beast misrepresents what the study actually found. Human Rights Watch confirmed through court records, media reports and interviews with family members that 138 Salvadoran deportees had been murdered and more than 70 others had been sexually assaulted or tortured since 2013. A majority of the documented deaths occurred less than a year after the deportees were sent back to El Salvador, according to the report.

The U.S. deported 111,000 Salvadorans back to their home country between 2014 and 2018, Human Rights Watch reported. The number of Salvadorans seeking asylum increased by nearly 1,000 percent from 2012 to 2017, with many citing the gang violence prevalent in El Salvador, according to The Associated Press.

While the report does underscore the risks faced by Salvadorans forced to return to their home country, it at no point attempts to calculate the percentage of all Salvadoran deportees harmed, as the Daily Beast appears to suggest.

Elizabeth Kennedy, the primary researcher of the Human Rights Watch report, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that such a percentage “cannot be calculated” from the report.

“The only way an accurate percentage could be calculated is for one of the two governments involved to either follow up with all persons returned or with a representative sample of all persons returned for at least several months,” Kennedy explained in an email. “Neither the U.S., El Salvador, nor any of the other 20+ nations who have deported Salvadorans have done this, as our report makes clear in several places.”

“We did not purport to provide a percentage of deportees harmed,” said Clara Long, a Human Rights Watch senior researcher who contributed to the writing and editing of the report, in a Twitter direct message to the DCNF.

We rate this claim from the Daily Beast false.

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