Human rights in El Salvador will be examined by the United Nations

San Salvador, March 12, 2017 – On March 12 and March 13, El Salvador will present its report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva, Switzerland to review the concerns and recommendations made by this committee four years ago and to review the progress the country has made since then regarding the application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which El Salvador is a signatory nation.

Eight civil society organizations: the Pro-Busca Association, Comcavis Trans, Cristosal, the Foundation of Study on the Application of the Law (FESPAD), the Foundation for the Due Legal Process (DPLF), the Foundation for Justice and the Democratic State of Law in El Salvador, the Human Rights Institute of the José Simeón Cañas Central American University (IDHUCA), and the Passionist Social Service (SSPAS) jointly prepared an alternative report on the main challenges and realities of serious human rights violations that persist in the country.

During these two days, members of the Salvadoran government will present before the Human Rights Committee, which is made up of experts on the subject, the progress in regard to human rights that they consider that El Salvador has made in the last four years. Civil society organizations will also have a space to present the challenges and realities of serious human rights violations in the country. The committee reviews the written reports and listens to each group before discussing its findings with the country.

Civil society organizations hope that their “hidden” report will serve to prevent, investigate, and sanction cases of extrajudicial killings, as well as to ensure compensation to the victims of these events and guarantee their non-repetition. Between 2014 and 2016, the Office for the Defense of Human Rights (PDDH) recorded at least 44 cases of possible extrajudicial killings by the National Civil Police (PNC) and the Armed Forces of El Salvador (FAES), in addition to 25 cases of attempted extrajudicial killings. These cases include more than 114 deaths at the hands of the PNC-FAES.

As noted by the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, and arbitrary executions after visiting El Salvador, the lack of a decisive reaction to possible police abuse indicates a weakness in the leadership and systems of the PNC.

Another important issue is access to justice as a means to help reduce impunity related to civil war-era crimes and to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision that the post-war amnesty law was unconstitutional. These organizations consider it critically important that the FAES grant access to files relevant to human rights violations during the civil war. The Attorney General’s Office, for its part, must develop and implement a specific policy for the criminal prosecution of war crimes.

The report also discusses the need to establish legal protection measures for the LGBTI population. A report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the PDDH, and civil society organizations indicates that 52% of trans women have received death threats or have suffered acts of violence, mainly due to transphobia and gang-imposed extortion of sex work.

Forced displacement is also a major concern. In 2016, the Civil Society Working Group against Forced Displacement due to Violence assisted 699 victims, most of whom suffered threats, the murder or attempted murder of themselves or of a family member, or an injury caused by either gangs ( 83.7%), the National Civil Police or the Armed Forces (8.1%), or extermination groups (3.2%). In the first half of 2017, 328 victims (163 men and 168 women) were provided with assistance.

These recommendations and concerns, along with other relevant issues such as migration, the role of the PDDH, and others, will be disclosed to the United Nations Human Rights Committee while it examines El Salvador and issues a report to advance compliance with the civil and political policies related to human rights.