Annual Report: El Salvador 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: El Salvador 2013

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Republic of El Salvador

Head of state and government Carlos Mauricio Funes

Impunity for human rights violations committed during the armed conflict (1980-1992) persisted. A crisis gripped the judicial system as members of congress were accused of attempting to interfere in the selection and appointment of judges. Violations of sexual and reproductive rights remained a concern.

Background

Violent crime continued to dominate the political agenda, although the government reported an overall fall in the murder rate.

Impunity

Impunity for past human rights violations continued to be a concern.

  • In January, in accordance with a 2010 ruling by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the President apologized on behalf of the state for the massacre of over 700 men, women and children in El Mozote and surrounding hamlets in Morazán province. The victims had been tortured and killed by the armed forces over a three-day period in 1981. In December, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights set down its final decision on the massacre, ordering the state to conduct investigations, and to hold those responsible to account. The ruling also called on the state to ensure the 1993 Amnesty Law was not an obstacle to the prosecution of war criminals; to continue compiling a list of victims; to conduct exhumations; and to ensure reparations for the relatives.
  • In August, survivors and relatives of victims marked 30 years of impunity for the 1982 El Calabozo massacre in which more than 200 women, men and children were killed by the armed forces. In a public event in November, representatives of the relatives and survivors handed in over 5,000 signatures urging the government to take action and respond to the demands of victims and their relatives for truth, justice and reparation.

Sexual and reproductive rights

Abortion in all circumstances remained a criminal offence.

  • Mery (not her real name) a 27-year-old woman, sought a clandestine medically induced abortion when she was eight weeks pregnant. When she sought medical assistance after taking the medication, some medical staff at the hospital reported her to the police. Although Mery was in a state of extreme distress and still undergoing treatment, she was handcuffed to a stretcher and kept under police guard. In August Mery was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for an induced abortion. Just a few days into serving her sentence, Mery attempted suicide and was transferred from the prison to a psychiatric hospital where she was kept under guard. At the end of the year, she was awaiting the results of her appeal.

International justice

At a hearing in a US court in September, Inocente Orlando Montano, former Salvadoran Vice-Minister for Public Security and a former military commander, faced charges of lying to the US immigration authorities in order to stay in the USA. If found guilty, this could pave the way for Inocente Orlando Montano’s extradition to Spain to face charges for his alleged role in the killing of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her 16-year-old daughter in 1989 in El Salvador.

Justice system

In April, members of Congress made statements apparently indicating that the rules governing the appointment of judges would be bypassed, particularly in relation to two members of the Constitutional section of the Supreme Court. Concerns were raised that the attempts to bypass the appointments procedure would facilitate the appointment of judges on the basis of their political affiliation rather than their professional capabilities. In November, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers visited the country to assess the situation. At the end of her visit she reminded the authorities of the state’s obligations to respect the independence of the judiciary and to refrain from any interference in the judiciary. She also recommended a review of the appointments procedure. No such review had been carried out by the end of the year.