El Salvador - Amnesty International Report 2008


Amnesty International  Report 2013

The 2013 Annual Report on
El Salvador is now live »

Head of state and government : Elías Antonio Saca
Death penalty : abolitionist for ordinary crimes
Population : 7.1 million
Life expectancy : 71.3 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) : 32/26 per 1,000
Adult literacy : 80.6 per cent

Crime levels remained high and there was widespread concern about public security. The government was criticized for misusing a new anti-terrorism law. Widespread human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict (1980-1992) remained unpunished.


In October, the Supreme Court found International Labour Organization Convention 87 incompatible with the Constitution. The Convention, which covers freedom of association and protection of the right to organize, was found to be incompatible with a constitutional article which prohibits trade unions in the public sector.

Many communities protested throughout the year against environmental damage caused by mining activities.

Public security

According to reports, 3,476 people were killed during the year. The National Commission for Citizen Security and Social Peace, formed at the request of the President and drawn from different sectors of society, reported a continued increase in homicides. It stated that reported killings of women had increased by 50 per cent since 1999. Several police officers were arrested throughout the year for alleged unlawful killings.

  • On 28 July, five men claiming to be police officers arrived at the home of an alleged gang member, in a town in the eastern part of the San Salvador Department, to arrest him. The five men, whose identification badges and faces were concealed, refused to produce an arrest warrant and told the family to collect the alleged gang member the following day from a nearby police station. His dismembered body was found the following day in three locations. No one had been arrested in connection with the killing by the end of the year.


The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances criticized the government for failing to resolve some 2,270 cases of enforced disappearance during the period of internal conflict. The Working Group highlighted the role of the 1993 Amnesty Law which allows perpetrators of human rights violations, including enforced disappearance, to evade prosecution.

The National Assembly approved an annual day of remembrance to commemorate the children who were victims of enforced disappearance during the conflict, in accordance with the ruling of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

In March, Rufina Amaya, the last remaining survivor of the El Mozote massacre, died of natural causes. According to reports, the El Salvadorian Armed Forces killed 767 people in El Mozote and surrounding areas in an operation carried out in December 1980. To date nobody has been brought to justice for that massacre or others that occurred during the internal armed conflict.

Counter-terrorism – misuse of the anti-terrorism law

The inappropriate and disproportionate use of the 2006 Special Law against Acts of Terrorism was the subject of much criticism both nationally and internationally. Local human rights groups argued that the Special Law was used against political opponents of the government.

  • In July, 13 people were charged with crimes under the Special Law. The 13 individuals, from two separate groups, had been detained after allegedly throwing stones at police officers and blocking roads during a demonstration against government water distribution policies. The 13 were leaders and members of social organizations. All were released on bail, subject to further investigations by the Attorney General’s Office, at the end of the year.