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COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS CONSIDERS REPORT OF El SALVADOR
14 May 2014

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights today considered the combined third to fifth periodic report of El Salvador on how the country is implementing the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Victoria Marina Valasquez De Aviles, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said El Salvador was in a transitional period following recent elections, but had taken many steps to promote and protect economic, social and cultural rights in recent years.  They included recognition of the victims of the civil war and the need to compensate them, and the recognition of the territory of indigenous people.  Despite the global financial crisis, fiscal security and sustainable social development was being ensured, and poverty levels were decreasing.  There were policies to tackle corruption, eradicate child labour, and trafficking in persons, and to support workers in the informal sector.   Anti-discrimination measures ensured respect of the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.  A transparent, open and participatory Government that responded to the needs and aspirations of a population was essential for the proper upholding of human rights, including the right to development. 

During the interactive dialogue Committee Experts highly commended the State party for the major step forward it had made in recognizing indigenous people; by doing so they were righting a historical wrong in Latin America of failing to recognize indigenous people and their cultural wealth.  However, many Experts expressed grave concerns about the absolute prohibition of abortion in El Salvador, the criminalization and sentencing of women to up to 30 years in prison for the crime of having an abortion, and many consequences of the law, including on the right to health. Other challenging areas raised included the fact that 30 per cent of the population had migrated, the issue of trafficking in persons, and poverty rates and the lack of affordable housing.  The promotion of indigenous culture and language was discussed, as well as the mortality rate caused by kidney disease reportedly linked to the sugar production industry.

In concluding remarks, Ms. Valasquez De Aviles said El Salvador placed the human being at the centre of its concerns, and had a vision of a country that promoted and protected all human rights.  The Government was especially working to improve the lot of children and young people, she said. 

Mikel Mancisidor, Committee Member acting as Country Rapporteur, said the Committee was now aware of the clear progress achieved by El Salvador in terms of combatting poverty and upholding economic, social and cultural rights, particularly over the last five years, and commended the State party for that.  At the same time, clearly very serious problems persisted that needed to be addressed. 

Zdzislaw Kedzia, Committee Chairperson, in concluding remarks, thanked the delegation for a frank and constructive debate which gave the Committee a good idea of the situation in El Salvador. 

The delegation of El Salvador included representatives of the Magistrate of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Deputy Attorney General, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Mission of El Salvador to the United Nations Office at Geneva. 

The Committee will next meet in public at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 15 May to examine the second periodic report of Serbia (E/C.12/SRB/2).
 
Report

The combined third to fifth periodic report of El Salvador (E/C.12/SLV/3-5).

Presentation of the Report

VICTORIA MARINA VALASQUEZ DE AVILES, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said El Salvador was in a transitional period following the 9 March Presidential elections, which were won by the Libercaion Nacional party and President Professor Salvador Sanchez Ceren who will take up office on 1 June.  Six Special Rapporteurs had visited El Salvador during the period 2009 to 2014, and an open invitation had been extended to all Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council.  A significant step forward was the recognition of rights violations suffered by victims of the civil war, and the decision to pay them compensation.  El Salvador recognized the territory of indigenous people and had set up a multi-sectorial body where indigenous communities could meet with government representatives to set their own agenda on how to best promote and protect their rights, for example recently a dictionary of the indigenous nahuat/pipil language was published.  The Government was taking steps, including constitutional reform, towards the ratification of United Nations Convention 169 on indigenous people. 

The global financial crisis affected all countries in the world, and El Salvador was not immune.   Fiscal security was being enforced through the Public Sector Savings and Austerity Policy 2013 which was also intended to deliver sustainable social development.  Other austerity measures included increasing the efficiency of public expenditure in areas such as salaries and placing restrictions on the procurement of services, which thus avoided negative financial impact on social programmes aimed at benefitting the most vulnerable sectors of society.  The percentage of households living in poverty fell from 40.55 per cent in 2011 to 34.5 per cent in 2012, which was a historic reduction bearing in mind the global financial crisis as well as natural disasters.  Extreme poverty levels were decreasing as well, thanks to State programmes.  Institutions such as the Social Fund for Housing and its role in proving long-term housing loans had made an active contribute to that positive trend. 

There was an action plan to eradicate child labour through economic empowerment and social inclusiveness.  Some 65,000 households with child labourers were befitting from that project.  Ultimately, with International Labour Organization support, El Salvador hoped to eradicate the need for child labour at all.  In 2012 the National Council for Trafficking in Human Beings was established.  Made up of national and international stakeholders and organizations, it sought to eradicate trafficking and bring perpetrators to justice, paying particular attention to the rehabilitation of victims.  An enormous debt was owed to women working in domestic service, and the Government aimed to right that wrong through signature of International Labour Organization Convention 189.  A law on the equality, equity and eradication of discrimination against women, together with other policies, focused on supporting domestic and ‘maquila’ workers.  In 2013 the Political Parties law aimed to strengthen the rights of women and foster women in decision-making roles. 

In the past the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community had been subject to very clear discrimination, but measures to rectify that included the establishment of the Sexual Diversity Institution and a complaints helpline.  Law enforcement officials were given training to teach them to respect the rights and needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community, whose right to vote and participate in the future of the country had been upheld by the Supreme Tribunal.  Awareness-raising had been carried out through media campaigns and public statements that emphasized Governmental support for that community.  An engine of change in El Salvador was non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations, true both before, during and after the war, and the Government sought to support them.  

The legal framework of El Salvador established educational opportunities and labour integration for all persons with disabilities on an equal footing.  An employment quota had been established for public and private sector employers who had to employ one person with a disability for every 25 employees.  Awareness-raising among the population in terms of the capacity of persons with disabilities was also taking place. 

An inspection system to uphold health and safety in the work place had been launched, while measures had been taken to criminalize and eradicate sexual harassment of women at work.  A new Health and Social Protection Scheme was being piloted on a voluntary basis.  In general terms, healthcare reforms included an increase in spending, the strengthening of free maternal healthcare, and the reduction of geographical disparities in access to healthcare.  The Law on Social Protection now covered the majority of the population.  It established a national system of universal social protection which sought to develop community solidarity in rural and urban areas.  Its programmes included the provision of free school uniforms, books and meals, agricultural programmes for families, free universal access to healthcare, early-years support for young children, a basic universal pension and much more. 

Mechanisms to prevent, combat and reduce the impact of corruption on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights taken since 2011 included the adoption of the Transparency and Accountability Policy, and laws on public access to information and on ethical governance, as well as a digital newspaper designed to promote transparency published online by the Open Government Portal.  In conclusion, Ms. Valasquez De Aviles said El Salvador recognized that corruption weakened institutional solidarity and hindered the work of Governments.  A transparent, open and participatory Government that responded to the needs and aspirations of a population was essential for the proper upholding of human rights, including the right to development. 

Questions from the Experts

MIKEL MANCISIDOR, Committee Expert acting as Country Rapporteur, welcomed the delegation and said El Salvador was considered a ‘friend’ of the Covenant and the Committee, and he looked forward to a frank dialogue.  El Salvador was one of the first States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Covenant, which was indicative of its dedication to implementation – something the Committee paid tribute to today.  He noted that the delegation was composed solely of women, which was a very good sign of women’s empowerment in El Salvador, commenting that the Committee had wide experience of men-only delegations, but a woman-only delegation was a first for it. 

The Country Rapporteur asked for information on the fiscal policies of the Government’s austerity measures.  What steps had been taken to redistribute wealth and balance the cuts?  Could the delegation explain how the redistributive effects of the tax system led to the drop in the poverty levels?   Was the Covenant directly applicable in domestic courts? 

Corruption was an issue for El Salvador, the Country Rapporteur said.  He noted that there had only been two successful prosecutions for corruption, and asked for details of those cases.  Perhaps there was a need to tighten sanctions, as two prosecutions were not very many.  Social violence was a serious problem that impacted upon the economic, social and cultural rights of the population as a whole but particularly on young people.

Migrants were raised, particularly in relation to the issue of trafficking in persons.  That had a huge impact on El Salvador as a third of El Salvador citizens lived outside the country as migrants.  When such a substantive part of a population was made up of migrants it had a huge impact on the economy, but also on communities, particularly in terms of family relationships.  Had the State party attempted to measure such large-scale migration?  Did the State have any social policies or support both to family members left at home – such as children whose parents were working abroad – and to the migrants themselves, especially those in the United States. 

There was a huge problem of high-levels of deeply-entrenched violence in El Salvador and in the region in general.  What was being done about it? 

What was the potential impact of a free trade agreement with other countries such as the United States?  While the Committee had no mandate to interfere with the sovereign rights of States to make their own bilateral or other agreements, it had a need to ensure that the provisions of such agreements sought to protect economic, social and cultural rights. 

Measures to promote the rights of persons with disabilities were commended, but an Expert said the State party’s definition of persons with disabilities did not include ‘reasonable accommodation’.  That was very important to help promote their inclusion in society. 

Collective bargaining mechanisms under the Labour Code were raised.  Was the right to strike only permitted under certain circumstances?  What was the rate of youth unemployment?  The informal labour sector was a concern to the Committee; although the Government was seized of the problem of universalizing access to social security for all workers, regardless of whether they worked in the formal or informal sector, the Committee would like to know more about its work to regularize the latter. 

Response from the Delegation

Violence was so extensive, so structurally rooted in poverty, and in the absence of support for young people and families, it was a difficult problem to solve, especially the issue of juvenile violence.  A ceasefire was being implemented, and efforts to halt the violence were being led by religious leaders from the church who was talking to members of the Mari gang.  Last month the number of murders was reduced from 29 to five, so results were being seen.   El Salvador was in a post-conflict situation.  It was true that the guns had largely been silenced, and now it was looking at inclusive ways of bringing an end to the violence.  The Government was especially conscious that young people were a major opportunity for El Salvador; they suffered from unemployment and at the same time had the access to easy money through joining gangs.  Political will had been demonstrated to deal with this issue. 

Between 2010 and 2012 El Salvador secured 216 convictions for the crime of trafficking in persons. The majority of victims were girl children and women.  Available was an institutional guide for dealing with cases of trafficking, a psycho-social manual on providing proper support for victims, a guide for Salvadorans living abroad, as well as a repatriation handbook aimed at young people and children who had been victims of trafficking.  El Salvador coordinated with Mexico on an inter-institutional support system for victims, and it also ran a refuge.  Trafficking was linked to organized crime which involved long and complex prosecution cases, but nevertheless there had been a high rate of convictions. 

El Salvador was conscious that failure to combat corruption would hinder the country in developing and upholding economic, social and cultural rights.  A delegate provided some recent case studies.  She spoke about the case of an entire former board of directors who were found guilty of involvement in corruption in a hydro-electric utilities company; the former director of the postal service was prosecuted for corruption; the former director of public works was also found guilty and given a prison sentence; and a recent case referred to in the media which related to a former President of the Republic who was being sought by Interpol on red alert.  Those were very regrettable cases, the delegate said, but States had to act in an exemplary manner when faced with cases of corruption.  Everybody was equal before the law and it had to be made clear that if the law applied to the people, it also applied to well-known figures who occupied high office.  The ex-President was the first case of that calibre, but other such cases had been seen in central and Latin America. 

Independence of the judiciary was considered to have been achieved, a delegate said.  Appointed judges based their work on the constitution and the law when handing down rulings, regardless of the status of the convicted.  When the judges were appointed the Government was mindful of the need to win back the confidence of the public in the justice system.  

Regarding the Office of the Ombudsperson, a delegate sought to explain that after awareness raising, society and the authorities had better recognition of the Office of the Ombudsperson.  The Office was admittedly under resourced, she said, but steps were being taken to raise its funding.  It had taken some time to establish the infrastructure of the office, but now the Ombudsperson was actively taking on individual cases.  One example was cases of children that had been adopted and gone missing; the Ombudsperson managed to open up old archives to find information on the case and shed light on what had happened.  Today, the Ombudsperson worked closely with civil society, which was its best ally. 

A reflection of the Government’s commitment to safeguarding the rights in the Covenant was the massive increase in investment in social protection measures, from around US$2.2 million in 2005 to approximately US$181 million in 2013.  That significant rise was clear testament to the country’s interest in stepping up social protection and implementing a social protection law; policies had also been institutionalized by law to ensure they were not at risk of being changed by the whim of a new Government.  There had been calls for the minimum wage to be increased given the rising cost of living; there were concerns it was now not an adequate sum, a delegate commented. 

Regarding poverty levels, a delegate said that in 2009 the poverty rate was 43.5 per cent of the population, which fell to 40.7 per cent today.  The number of people living below the extreme poverty rate, nationwide, stood at 16 per cent in 2005 but by 2012 had fallen to 11.3 per cent.  Furthermore, the proportion of households living below the national poverty line had fallen to 34 per cent in 2012.  Regarding basic pension coverage, in 2009, when the pension first came into effect,  6,486 adults accessed it.  By 2010 that number had increased to over 8,000 and today around 29,000 elderly persons had pension coverage

The national unemployment rate, according to the most recent multi-use household study with data from 2012 that was published in 2013, was 6.1 per cent.  By age category, some 10.6 per cent of people aged 24 and below were unemployed. 

A great deal of potential had been lost as a result of the failure to ensure persons with disabilities were given the same opportunities as everybody else, and the Government was working very hard to rectify that. 

It was true that the prevalence of violence against women was high, as shown in the statistics.  Measures to foster an environment free of violence included new legislation that would prescribe sanctions for perpetrators and better services to women victims, and preventative activities, as well as new mechanisms to penalize perpetrators and provide full compensation and reparations.  The result was a holistic system of support for women who had suffered gender based violence; the women were no longer considered simply an object that gave evidence in a legal case, a delegate said.  A large component was changing public mind-sets that domestic violence was a private issue that did not go beyond the four walls of the home.  Now, sanctions handed down by courts ended impunity and gave women the confidence to make complaints.  The Head of Delegation paid tribute to the remarkable work carried out by non-governmental organizations to ensure that victims of violence against women and girls were supported, and who advocated for them in parliament and other forums. 

Questions by the Experts

Many Committee Experts voiced grave concerns about the absolute prohibition of abortion by law in El Salvador. 

An Expert said that most countries the Committee encountered had their own ‘peculiar’ problem.  In El Salvador’s case, abortion stood out as its one major crisis, its red line.  Was El Salvador’s restrictive policy on abortion based on religion, or culture, he asked, saying there must be a deep-rooted reason for it.  The people most impacted by the policy were the poor and the vulnerable.  He wondered whether well-off, wealthy women could seek abortion elsewhere, and travel to another country, and if so whether the Government kept tabs on them. 

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women had said the El Salvador abortion ban affected, more than any other group, poor women, under-educated women, and young women, who were the groups most frequently prosecuted, another Expert also recalled.  In the period between 2000 and 2011 an average of 129 women were prosecuted for the offence of abortion or aggravated murder.  The majority were between 18 and 25 years of age, as well as high-school girls and single women.  Some women were sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. 

The right to the physical and mental health of women was at stake; the prohibition of abortion for women who needed one on medical grounds prevented women from making decisions about their bodies and their health, including in cases of rape.  The ban led to clandestine abortions, which along with HIV/AIDS were the leading cause of death of women in El Salvador.  Had the State party considered what impact the ban had on its health and prison systems? 

Another Expert said El Salvador should do everything it could to change its policy on abortion, which was wrong.  Women were committing suicide because of it, they were prosecuted, they were dying.  Currently, 15 women were in prison because they had had an illegal abortion.  They had been sentenced to over 30 years, which was a horrendous human rights violation.  Would the State party consider pardoning them?

Sexual and reproductive health was an issue that affected women disproportionately, said an Expert.  The statistics showed a very grave situation in El Salvador.  The number of people dying in childbirth, the rate of maternal mortality, the teenage pregnancy rate and the number of people dying after an illicit abortion were of significant concern.  The Committee – and other United Nations bodies – nine years ago recommended that appropriate measures be taken and urged the State party to review its abortion legislation and consider exceptions to the general ban on abortion in cases of therapeutic abortion and pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.  The constitution set out that life began at conception; but in many countries constitutions – as well as the Inter-American Court – referred to jurisprudence on that issue, giving more progressive rulings in cases of rape and so on. 

An Expert raised the internationally-known case of a young woman called ‘Beatrice’ who was pregnant with a serious malformation in the foetus.   Beatrice was not allowed an abortion, and as a result she died.  Was the ban on abortion compatible with economic, social and cultural rights, he queried, and asked whether a compromise solution could be found regarding the right to health of women.  The Inter-American Court of Human Rights had asked El Salvador to solve this complex and difficult issue internally. Did it have the resources to do so? 

The State party had a very discriminatory attitude towards women over the abortion issue, another Expert said.  El Salvador failed women when they were in the most difficult circumstances, invariably poor and young women who needed the State most of all.  What did the delegation say about that?

There appeared to have been a reversal of the previous positive trend in the country, with regard to reproductive rights, he commented.  The State party spoke about the principle of always working on the basis of human rights, but for this issue it appeared to be moving backwards, he said.  Regrettably, there was a wave of negative change in the region in terms of constitutional issues, and the so-called progressive governments were engaged in retrograde developments in terms of women’s rights.

How much access did women have to contraception, an Expert asked.  Could minors and vulnerable groups access contraception?  What sexual and reproductive health and rights education was given, an Expert asked.  There were many women-headed households.  In a patriarchal society, how was the Government teaching men about their responsibilities with regard to the family?  Men could simply not desert their wife and children, and mind-sets had to be changed. 

What efforts had the Government made to consolidate a national health system, based on equity and accessibility, guaranteeing essential health services for the entire population, in particular vulnerable groups such as indigenous people, street children and people deprived of their liberty, an Expert asked. 

How had the housing deficit in both urban and rural areas been addressed?  How many forced evictions took place under the 2009 special law?  Would the Government consider adopting legislation governing forced evictions that complied with the Committee’s General Comment Number Seven?  Was there a problem of homelessness? 

The plight of street children was raised by an Expert, who asked for statistics on them.  Child labour was also discussed.  The State party had not ratified International Labour Organization Conventions 138 and 182 on the minimum age of employment, and on the elimination of the worst forms of child labour respectively.  Why had El Salvador not ratified those conventions given its significant problem with child labour? 

On education, an Expert said there were still high school drop-out rates mainly affecting rural girls and children of indigenous people.  How was the Government seeking to give rural girls and indigenous children equal opportunities along with urban children?  Were the children of indigenous people and street children subject to compulsory education?  She also asked what measures were being taken to make quality education accessible for children with disabilities.

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had expressed concern that the use of indigenous languages continued to be denied.  What efforts had the State made to ensure that inter-cultural activities and education in their own language was introduced for indigenous children? 

An Expert commended the State party for the major step forward it had made in recognizing indigenous people; by doing so they were righting a historical wrong in Latin America of failing to recognize indigenous people and their cultural wealth.  One just had to look back at efforts to wipe out indigenous people in the late twentieth century.  There seemed to be real political will to move forward on the issue.  However, more needed to be done. 

In the field of health, there were serious problems of kidney disease in El Salvador related to the sugar production industry.  Many people were dying.  However, the sugar companies said they could not do anything until research was done into the phenomenon and they had real evidence.  However, the research and investigations were being financed by the same sugar companies.  Non-governmental organizations were quite right to be concerned about the independence of the studies, the Expert said.   

Response by the Delegation

The report stated that there were currently 272 street children in El Salvador, a delegate said.  On child labour, El Salvador was a pioneer in coming up with a road map to ensure that that social phenomenon, that had such repercussions for society, was actually dealt with.  International Labour Organization Conventions 169 and 182 had been ratified, and the country was working closely with the International Labour Organization. 

There were initiatives to help women; as far as El Salvador could, as a poor country, it was seeking to support them.  The Committee had relayed its concerns relating to the case of ‘Beatrice’, but actually the people who received the most help from the State were women.  To help parents, 20 days of leave were allocated to them annually which they could use to look after their sick children.  

On the issue of abortion, the Head of Delegation said the Committee could not imagine the passion aroused by the study on the issue of abortion.  El Salvador was a very conservative and traditional country.  In 1999 the law allowed therapeutic abortions.  A reform that same year led to the new regulations in place today.  Women’s organizations had not led to any change.  The Government believed that changing the legislation would lead to more illegal abortions, and therefore more deaths.  It was a very difficult issue.  Women were indeed prosecuted for having an illegal abortion, a crime which carried a sentence of four to eight years.  Doctors who carried out abortions also faced sanctions.  Unfortunately there were no reliable statistics on the number of suicides in relation to the prohibition of abortion, the delegate said.  It was a phenomenon that needed greater analysis.  It mainly affected young people.  But the suicides could be as a result of unemployment, not necessarily pregnancy.

Another delegate said that legislation had taken a step backwards on the issue of abortion.  In practice when women asked for assistance, doctors in hospitals had to tell the authorities if they suspected a woman wanted an abortion.  Between 2011 and 2013 there were eight convictions for the crime of abortion.  However, that number of convictions was relatively small compared to the number of women who were tried for the crime and the number of women who had abortions.  The majority were freed due to a lack of evidence, or even absolved of the crime. 

El Salvador was very advanced when it came to the rights of female citizens, a delegate said.  The decision made for the case of ‘Beatrice’ came after three out of five magistrates argued that her health and life had not been properly cared for.   The magistrates warned that medical procedures could be carried out that might have protected her life.  That led to the possibility that doctors could choose to decide to save the life of the woman, or the life of the unborn child.  A magistrate also raised the possibility of using case law in abortion cases.  Women who left El Salvador to have an abortion in another country were not sanctioned, as the law did not apply outside the territory. 

Access to information on reproductive rights was an issue the current Minister of Education was working on with civil society organizations. 

A law adopted on 25 February 2012 sought to increase the number of affordable housing units, for which 20 per cent of land had been set aside.  It appeared than 60 per cent of unions between men and women were ‘free unions’, a recent study found.  It also found that 60 per cent of households were headed by women.  That was a consequence of migration, men leaving the country.  Social policies helped women who had to fend for themselves and had a family to care for. 

The reform of the health system was described by a delegate, who said that now more than two million people had been directly helped by family health community teams.  When the Government took office 377 health units had been set up, and between 2009 and 2013 hundreds more units were established, including in the 100 poorest regions of the country and those with the highest levels of infant malnutrition.  Almost 5,000 new health staff had been hired for the units, including medically trained personnel.

Regarding kidney disease and links to the sugarcane industry, a delegate said it caused a large number of deaths, not only in El Salvador but elsewhere in the region.  However, it had not been possible to pinpoint the causes.  There was speculation that it was caused by pesticides, given that there was extensive sugarcane and maize farming in the east of the country where a great deal of pesticide was used.  It was also a very hot region, people sweated and the suggestion was the combination of pesticides and perspiration led to kidney failure.  There were inadequate controls on the use of pesticides, which were imported from abroad. 

A delegate said El Salvador was satisfied that there was political willpower to make changes, but there was a great deal still to be done, especially for women, children and in terms of environmental protection.  Given the short time lapse over which the country’s transformation had taken place, a great deal had been achieved.

Regarding indigenous languages, she described a campaign to disseminate the nahuat/pipil language in schools, as very few people spoke that language and the Government wanted to preserve it for the benefit of the indigenous populations. 

Follow-Up Questions from Experts

An Expert noted that a delegate had admitted that the new legislation on abortion was a step backwards, and asked in that case who was behind the legislative reform?  Also if there were only relatively few convictions, it meant that the Government was not serious about applying the law.  To what extent would El Salvador be serious about accepting the Committee’s recommendations on the issue, he also asked?

An Expert enquired whether it was true there were no restrictions or legislation on the use of pesticides, as if so, that was very unusual.  Another Expert asked about the recognition of ancestral rights in El Salvador. 

ZDZISLAW KEDZIA, Committee Chairperson, noted that the delegation could provide answers in writing to the Committee for up to forty-eight hours after the end of the review, which the delegation indicated they would like to do.

Concluding Remarks

VICTORIA MARINA VALASQUEZ DE AVILES, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the United Nations Office at Geneva, thanked the Committee for their questions and comments, which would be seriously considered.  She said El Salvador placed the human being at the centre of its concerns.  The Government had a vision of an El Salvador that promoted and protected all human rights, and eradicated all scourges.  The Government was especially working to improve the lot of children and young people, she said. 

MIKEL MANCISIDOR, Committee Expert acting as Country Rapporteur, said the delegation had demonstrated honesty and willingness to engage on human rights issues, and thanked them for it.  The Committee was aware of the clear progress achieved in terms of combatting poverty and upholding economic, social and cultural rights, particularly over the last five years, and commended the State party for that.  At the same time, clearly very serious problems persisted that needed to be addressed.  The Committee’s concluding observations would take up both the positive points and the areas of concern that needed to be addressed in the coming years. 

ZDZISLAW KEDZIA, Committee Chairperson, in concluding remarks, thanked the delegation for a frank and constructive debate which gave the Committee a good idea of the situation in El Salvador.  The State appeared willing to act and to achieve advancement of its people. 


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