El Salvador
Head of state and government
Carlos Mauricio Funes Cartagena
Death penalty
abolitionist for ordinary crimes
Population
6.2 million
Life expectancy
72.2 years
Under-5 mortality
16.6 per 1,000
Adult literacy
84.1 per cent

Impunity for human rights violations committed during the armed conflict (1980-1992) persisted. Violence against women and girls, including violations of their sexual and reproductive rights, remained a concern. The Ombudsperson for human rights received multiple reports of women and girls being abused by military personnel in prisons across the country.

Background

The rate of violent crime continued to soar. In response to increasing security concerns in several prisons, the government deployed the military to run 11 out of the 14 prisons in the country.

In October, storms led to several landslides in which more than 30 people died, and flooding destroyed the homes and crops of thousands of families.

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Impunity

The 1993 Amnesty Law remained in place, despite repeated decisions from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordering the state to repeal it. The Law seeks to obstruct anyone, including the armed forces, from being held to account for human rights violations, including crimes against humanity, committed during the armed conflict.

  • In March, the case of 700 men, women and children who were tortured and killed by the armed forces over a three-day period in 1981 in El Mozote and surrounding hamlets, Morazán province, was referred to the Inter-American Court. This was one of the thousands of cases of human rights violations, including crimes against humanity committed by members of the military, where the 1993 Amnesty Law has prevented those responsible being brought to justice.

In December, during a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the massacres, the Minister of Foreign Affairs acknowledged state responsibility for the crimes against humanity perpetrated in El Mozote and surrounding hamlets. However, the Minister gave no commitment to repealing the Amnesty Law or holding perpetrators to account for their crimes.

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Violence against women and girls

In February, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women expressed grave concern and warned that government inaction in the investigation, prosecution and reparation for such crimes had led to a situation of impunity for gender-based violence in El Salvador.

In her report, the UN Special Rapporteur urged the government to review the laws that ban abortion in all circumstances, even for survivors of rape or where the life of the woman or girl is at stake. The government stated that it was committed to addressing the issue of violence against women.

The Ombudsperson for human rights received an increasing number of reports of military personnel conducting illegal vaginal and anal searches on women and girls visiting relatives in prison.

In March the government opened the first branch of the “ciudad de la mujer” where women and girls affected by violence can go to report crimes committed against them to the police in safety, as well as to receive support services and legal advice.

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International justice

In August the Supreme Court decided not to fulfil a red alert from Interpol, originating from the Spanish authorities. This demanded the arrest and extradition of nine former members of the military accused of the killing in 1989 of six Spanish Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. The Court demanded that further procedural steps be fulfilled by the Spanish authorities before they could consider the order.

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Human rights defenders

Human rights activists and journalists working in Cabañas department were subjected to threats because of their human rights and anti-corruption work.

  • In January, Hector Berríos, a community activist and human rights lawyer, received a phone call saying that someone had been paid a lot of money to kill him, or a member of his family.
  • In May Pablo Ayala, Manuel Navarrete and Marixela Ramos, two journalists and a news producer respectively at Radio Victoria, received two death threats by text message. One of the messages read “Look fool, we already know where you live… stop that news bulletin that you co-ordinate. You also have a daughter”.
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