El Salvador probes alleged cases of child abuse in U.S. detention centers

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – El Salvador is investigating three alleged cases of sexual abuse of minors in U.S. immigrant detention centers, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for Salvadorans Abroad, Liduvina Magarin, told reporters that consulate officials were using private attorneys to investigate the cases of alleged abuse at shelters in the U.S. state of Arizona.

She did not provide further information.

The U.S. State Department did not reply immediately to a request for comment, while an Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman said the agency did not have family facilities in Arizona.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which runs shelters for unaccompanied children, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

More than 500 children out of over 2,500 separated from their parents as part of U.S. President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal immigration remained in the care of the U.S. government by last week.

Many of the families had crossed the U.S.-Mexican border illegally, while others had sought asylum. The separations were in place from early May until Trump stopped the practice in June in the face of intense global criticism.

El Salvador’s government has registered 118 cases of separated Salvadoran families that have been reunited but it does not know how many more cases are pending.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed and Eric Beech in WASHINGTON; Editing by Paul Tait

(FILE PHOTO: El Salvador’s Vice Minister for Salvadorans Abroad Liduvina Magarin speaks during a high-level meeting on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants at the United Nations General Assembly in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS-Carlo Allegri)

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