Levels of violence remained high and there was widespread concern about public insecurity. The authorities were criticized for misusing the 2006 Special Law against Acts of Terrorism. Widespread human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict (1980-1992) remained unpunished and the 1993 Amnesty Law remained in place.
In February charges were dropped against 13 representatives of local social organizations in Suchitoto detained in July 2007. The 13 had been arrested following clashes with police during a protest about government policy on access to clean water, and were charged under the 2006 anti-terrorism law.
"...women’s organizations also expressed concern at the high number of women killed..."
Indigenous Peoples’ rights
In May, four groups of Indigenous Peoples, the Lenca, Nahuat, Kakawira and Maya, lobbied the legislative assembly to ratify ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. They also requested that the legislative assembly carry out reforms to ensure the identity and collective rights of Indigenous Peoples were recognized in national law in order to enable them to own land and have access to clean water. By the end of the year El Salvador had not ratified ILO Convention 169 or legally recognized the rights of its Indigenous Peoples.
In September, the mandate of the Inter-Institutional Commission for the Search for Disappeared Children was extended, although the extension was only granted until 31 May 2009. The Commission was established in 2004 to clarify the whereabouts of some 700 children who were the victims of enforced disappearance during the internal armed conflict (1980-1992). The Commission has been criticized for inefficiency and lack of independence; only 30 of the disappeared children have been located by the Commission.
- In June, former army General Rafael Flores was summonsed to testify before the Attorney General of Chalatenango regarding the Serrano Cruz case. This was the first time a high-ranking military officer had been called to provide information on serious human rights violations that occurred during the conflict. Two sisters, seven-year-old Ernestina and three-year-old Erlinda Serrano Cruz, disappeared in June 1982 during a military campaign in Chalatenango. As the case did not progress through the domestic courts, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights requested in a 2005 judgment that the authorities carry out an investigation. At the end of the year, the investigation had yet to begin and the whereabouts of the sisters remained unknown.
- In November, a complaint was filed with the Spanish courts against 14 members of the El Salvadoran army and former President Alfredo Cristiani Burkard for the murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her 16-year-old daughter at the Central American University (UCA) in November 1989.
Violence against women and girls
In May, a formal request was made by women’s organizations to the Attorney General calling for the investigation into the rape and murder of nine-year-old Katya Miranda in April 1999 to be re-opened immediately. The organizations claimed that new evidence had been found and feared that the statute of limitations could prevent any further proceedings being opened after April 2009. No formal response to the request had been made by the Attorney General by the end of 2008. Several women’s organizations also expressed concern at the high number of women killed in the first five months of the year.