Making the invisible visible: hidden signs of violence

SAN SALVADOR – The human rights organization Cristosal published its 2017 Annual Report on Forced Displacement in El Salvador on Thursday, April 26, to draw attention to the phenomenon and its victims, who are overlooked in public policies and the national dialogue of El Salvador. The same factors that have caused an increase in Salvadoran asylum applications in the United States in recent years have also displaced hundreds of thousands of people within the country. Thus, strengthening protection systems within the country can reduce forced migration to the United States.

In an unprecedented move, El Salvador’s Minister of Justice and Public Security, Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde, participated in a panel discussion on the issue at the official launch of the report. Cristosal’s director of programs, Celia Medrano, and representatives of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the Office for the Defense of Human Rights (PDDH) also participated on the panel. In the discussion, Landaverde recognized violence as a factor that drives displacement. He also recognized that part of that violence has been caused by the National Civil Police and the Armed Forces of El Salvador. These acknowledgments demonstrate a significant departure from the government’s previous position, which was to question the existence and scale of forced displacement.

The release of the report also marks a substantial change in the national conversation on forced displacement. Even though victims forcibly displaced by violence have traditionally been ignored or treated with suspicion, this report highlights the harsh realities they face. The findings within the report were featured more than 30 times in national newspapers and television and radio shows.