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HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE REVIEWS REPORT OF EL SALVADOR

14 March 2018

The Human Rights Committee today concluded the review of the seventh periodic report of El Salvador and its efforts to implement the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 

Presenting the report, María Silvia Guillén, Presidential Commissioner for Human Rights of El Salvador, said that important work was being done concerning victims of human rights violations committed during the armed conflict which had ended in 1992, including the recognition of the State’s responsibility and a mea culpa offered by the President.  Institutions had been set up to provide reparations to victims of past human rights violations, and to search for the disappeared persons including children.  Following the declaration of unconstitutionality of the law on general amnesty in 2016, investigations had been opened into grave human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict, and a special judicial unit had been created for the purpose.  Special provisions had been put in place to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public administration.  The Plan El Salvador Seguro - the Safe El Salvador Plan had been adopted to strengthen public order and security and tackle violence and crime, through prevention, criminal prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration, attention to and protection of victims, and institution building.

Committee Experts recognized the progress El Salvador had made in addressing human rights issues and noted with regret that the law prohibiting abortion had not been amended; the complete ban on abortion pushed women towards clandestine and unsafe abortions at a great risk to their lives and health, they said.  Among the greatest challenges was violence – in 2015, El Salvador had the highest homicide rate in the world; the effects of gang violence could be seen in a high rate of femicide, displacement of people, and recruitment of children into gangs.  Given the widespread gender-based violence, and the femicide rates which reached epidemic proportions, actions taken to combat the phenomenon fell short; the prosecution rates were low, and sentencing even lower.  There were lingering questions about accountability for past human rights violations, while thousands of people who had disappeared during the internal armed conflict were still missing.  The Committee was very concerned about the involvement of the national army in law enforcement operations within the country, thus effectively replacing the national police force.  The presence of indigenous people in society and decision-making roles was also addressed, with Experts remarking that their situation was still one of extreme poverty and non-opportunity. 

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Guillén thanked the Committee Expert for their valuable comments and reiterated the deep commitment of El Salvador to human rights.

Yuji Iwasawa, Committee Chair, in his final remarks, said that the Committee’s concluding observations would address, inter alia, discrimination, abortion, enforced disappearances, reparations for human rights violations, safety of human rights defenders, counter-terrorism act, and rights of indigenous peoples.

The delegation of El Salvador consisted of representatives of the Presidential Commission for Human Rights, Ministry of Justice and Public Security, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Salvadorian Institute for Women’s Development, and the Permanent Mission of El Salvador to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The Committee will issue its concluding observations and recommendations on the report of El Salvador towards the end of its session, which concludes on 6 April 2018. 

All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage.  The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings is available at UN Web TV.


The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 14 March to consider the seventh periodic report of Norway (CCPR/C/NOR/7).


Report

The Committee has before it the seventh periodic report of El Salvador (CCPR/C/SLV/7).

Presentation of Report of El Salvador

MARÍA SILVIA GUILLÉN, Presidential Commissioner for Human Rights of El Salvador, said that great efforts had been made to improve human rights in the country, strengthen institutions, and so promote peace amongst the El Salvadorian citizens.  Inter-sectoral and inter-institutional approaches opened an ongoing dialogue to build mechanisms that made for greater accountability.  Important work was being done concerning victims of human rights violations committed during the armed conflict which had ended in 1992, said Ms. Guillén.  The State had recognized its responsibility and the President had offered the Government’s mea culpa; the Programme for the Reparations to Victims of Grave Human Rights Violations during the Internal Armed Conflict had been created.  In order to help families that lost loved ones during the conflict find some answers, a national commission for the search of disappeared children had been established in 2013, followed by the setting up of a body to search for the missing adults in 2017.  In 2016, the Constitutional Court had declared the law on general amnesty for the consolidation of peace unconstitutional; investigations had been opened into grave human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict and a special judicial unit had been created for the purpose, whose members had been trained by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

Progress was being made to secure the rights of girls and women, including through the human rights-based and multi-sectoral strategy for the prevention of pregnancy among girls and adolescents; the launch of a strategic plan for maternal and infant health 2015-2019; and the setting up of special courts for gender-based violence in 2016.  In terms of the fight against trafficking in persons, the State had adopted a special law in 2014 which had created the national council and the national information system for the crime of human trafficking.  The national police force and the courts had created specialized units to fight the crime, and the adoption of the interinstitutional protocol for integral service to victims of trafficking in persons was in the pipeline.  Turning to the situation of children in El Salvador, Commissioner Guillén stressed that the focus of the National Policy for the Comprehensive Protection of Children and Adolescents 2013-2023 was on the elimination of corporal punishment and eradication of violence in schools, including bullying.  The phenomenon of street children continued to pose a great challenge.  It was with that challenge in mind that the country had created a network of civil society organizations and Government institutions, to assist those children, and to also provide assistance and support to unaccompanied migrant children, another key challenge for El Salvador.  Nationwide there was a network for unaccompanied migrant children and the goal was to facilitate the coordination of all the programs working with those children to streamline care and assistance.

El Salvador had put in place special provisions to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public administration, and so improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.  A training manual for the police and a hotline for persons of different sexual orientation had been created as well.  In order to strengthen public order and security, the Plan El Salvador Seguro – the Safe El Salvador Plan, had been put in place to tackle violence and crime.  The Plan had been elaborated in a wide consultation with different sectors of the society, and was built on five pillars: prevention of violence, criminal prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration, attention to and protection of victims, and institution building, and it prioritized the 50 municipalities with the highest rates of violence.  In 2016, the inter-institutional coordination mechanism for internal oversight on security institutions had been created.  In closing, Ms. Guillén stressed that there were still challenges which called for great political commitment, but El Salvador was up to the challenge. 

Questions by Committee Experts

Beginning the dialogue, a Committee Expert recognized the progress El Salvador had made since the last review in addressing human rights issues and noted with regret that no measures had been taken to amend the laws prohibiting abortion.  Although the country was a party to the Optional Protocol, the Committee had received no communications from citizens of El Salvador; furthermore, there were no information about the invoking of the Covenant in judicial decisions, which made the Expert wonder whether more efforts were needed to disseminate the provisions of the Covenant and the Optional Protocol among the judicial and other authorities, as well as the public.

Given the widespread gender-based violence, actions taken to combat it still fell short, remarked the Expert and asked what steps had been taken to implement the concluding observations issued to El Salvador by the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.  Gender stereotypes were still prevalent and a gender perspective needed to be included in plans and programs developed by the State party.  The Committee was very concerned by the reports of teenage girls being coerced by gang members into becoming their “girlfriends”.  What was being done to protect girls in such situations, and to increase reporting of rape and sexual abuse?

Femicide, the murdering of women, had reached epidemic proportions, warned the Expert, but prosecution rates were very low, and sentencing rates even lower.  El Salvador should allocate financial and technical resources to better protect women from violence and to enable women victims of violence to access justice.

There were lingering questions about past human rights violations, including internal legal obstacles to the investigation and prosecution of those violations, punishment of the perpetrators and whether or not the State party would reconsider the validity of the General Amnesty Act of 1993.  In addition, more than 2,000 cases of enforced disappearances were still registered with the Working group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances while some sources claimed that the number of forcibly disappeared was as high as 10,000.  How was the State party searching for disappeared people and with which resources?

Another Expert asked whether El Salvador would continue to support the Human Rights Advocate and how this office would remain independent and free from interference from outside sources, or threats to their security.  Sensitive material had been stolen and the budget of the institution at office had been reduced, raising concerns whether it was sufficient to guarantee the functioning of the office.

Women in El Salvador were present in the legislative assembly, the executive branch and other posts, but what measures were in place to increase those numbers, an Expert asked?  The wage gap between men and women had increased and that was alarming considering the prevalence of women in the workforce. 

Experts remarked that data and information concerning the functioning of the reparation programme for victims of human rights violations were scarce, and asked how many victims had already benefitted from the programme.

The Committee was particularly worried about the participation of the national army in the civilian security operations, in place of the police force.  It was reported that 14,000 soldiers took part in such law enforcement operations.  Additionally, there were reports of human rights violations by the armed forces including extra-judicial executions.  The State should do its utmost to strengthen the national police force and avoid using the army, which seemed to act outside the law. 

An Expert noted a gap in the statistics, between the number of indigenous peoples and their representation in the national population, and asked for an official figure on the percentage of the indigenous people in the population.  Sixty-one per cent of indigenous peoples were in a situation of poverty and 38 per cent in a situation of extreme poverty, which was an indicator of discrimination and marginalization of indigenous peoples in El Salvador.

Committee Experts commended El Salvador for the adoption of the decree 56 and the establishment of a committee within the Office of the Prosecutor, to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, however, there were still areas where discrimination was prevalent.  For example, the State still required that the gender on the identity card matched the gender at birth, while transgender individuals were dissuaded from voting because of violence against them and harassment, not only by cartels but by the police too.  When would the country adopt the laws to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from violence and discrimination and address impunity for the perpetrators?

Turning to the Maquiladoras industry where women represented 78 per cent of workers, the Experts noted that in some there were conditions which amounted to forced labour, and stressed that all public contracts should include a clause that prohibited forced labour.  Migrant workers fell outside of the purview of the labour inspections, raising concern about the protection of their labour rights.

The complete ban on abortion in El Salvador pushed women towards clandestine and unsafe abortions at a great risk to their lives and health.  According to sources, 129 women had been tried between 2000 and 2011 for abortion, and 27 women were still behind bars on charges relating to abortion.  A woman had been recently released after serving ten of the 30 years sentence she had received after being found unconscious on a bathroom floor and delivering a stillborn child.  During her ten years in prison, she had been allowed to see her older child seven times.  What was the progress of the bill to reform the criminal code and decriminalize abortion under some circumstances?

The General Inspectorate of the National Police had been reformed, and a new body under the Ministry of Justice only conducted investigations on disciplinary matters.  Which body was in charge of following up on criminal charges and complaints against police officers?  Could the delegation comment on the reports of the existence of the so called “death squads” - units or groups in the national police specifically trained to summarily execute people assumed to be participating in criminal activities?

There was concern for persons with psycho-social disabilities, many of whom were abandoned by their families and left in institutions, where the use of restraints continued.  The national psychiatric hospital was overcrowded, and there were reports of experimental treatments being performed on patients with disabilities without their consent, and reports of forced sterilization and forced interruption of pregnancies in women and girls with disabilities.  What measures were in place to protect persons with disabilities from violence and discrimination, how were their interests represented and what safeguards were in place for those in institutions?

The delegation was asked to provide up-to-date information on the numbers of prosecutions for trafficking in persons and support and compensation to victims; comment on reports of trafficking of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons; and to explain why people of African descent were not represented in the delegation of El Salvador.

Responses by the Delegation

The delegation stressed that significant progress had been made in protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons from violence and discrimination, including through legal reforms. Nineteen cases of homicide of members of this group had been registered during the 2009-2016 period.  Three transgender women had been attacked by members of a gang operating in La Paz and the gang members had been charged and found guilty.  In June 2015, a police officer who had attacked a transgender man had been convicted to four years in prison.  Challenge remained in the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons to obtain identity documents, because of harassment and stereotypes.

Cases that involved human rights violations by the national police were addressed through criminal process and disciplinary sanctions.  The National Civil Police had to abide by the criminal code, they had no law that protected them as officers of the government; they were considered civilians in that case.  However, depending on the internal legislation of each body, when a civil servant participated in criminal activity, sanctions could also be applied. 

The participation of national armed forces in matters of civil security could be allowed by the President in special circumstances and on a temporary basis.  Their participation in public security was a fact since the peace agreement had been signed in 1994.  Still, general public security was the responsibility of the national police and the armed forces should be used in cases of support, said the delegate.  There was an educational program for the members of armed forces on human rights.  The cases in which members of the armed forces were involved in crime typically included petty crimes.  There were only three known cases where members of the armed forces had committed human rights violations.  On two of those, the jury was still out, while in the third case, eight members of the armed forces had been found guilty of a human rights violation. 

Human trafficking was a common crime El Salvador, which was a country of transit.  El Salvador had signed bilateral agreements with other Central American nations and had put in place strong legislation to punish the perpetrators.

The national HIV/AIDS programme in El Salvador was a model in Latin America.  It made all antiretroviral medications available with no wait list.  A model for prevention had been created in 2009 and guides to prevention for teachers and students, while communication and information strategy on sexually communicable disease had been published.  The delegate was proud to announce that El Salvador was on the path to eradicating HIV/AIDS completely.  In 2017, the National Health System had registered six new cases, but the more recent statistics had reduced this to three new cases, while only five cases of vertical transmission (from mother to child) had been reported in the last year.  The ultimate sign of progress for El Salvador in the area of HIV/Aids would be achieving the 90-90-90 goals of UNAIDS.  The idea was to link more individuals to health services and provide more access to retroviral medications as well as all hospitals in El Salvador offering comprehensive support to people of this group. 

Voluntary interruption of pregnancy was prohibited, said a delegate, noting that the Constitutional recognized life from the moment of conception.  There were efforts to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape, foetal malformation, and if pregnancy posed a danger to a woman.  It was now a matter for the executive power to convince the judicial and legislative branches of the need for such reforM. There were no protocols within the Ministry of Health concerning the obligation of medical personnel to report women suspected of having had an abortion.  In 2017, some 7,000 spontaneous abortions had been diagnosed, and 22 terminations of pregnancy had been performed because of extreme infection.  No charges had been brought against those women.

Violence against women was a critical question in El Salvador which approached the issue of gender-based violence comprehensively.  There was strong legislation with a catalogue of crimes, including femicide and symbolic violence, which had set up an unprecedented architecture with respect to women’s rights.  The Plan El Salvador Seguro (Safe El Salvador) also sought to prevent violence against women and included a national support system to women victims of violence, distributed over three levels: access, legal proceedings and the empowerment of women.  Those three levels provided tools for women to seek out justice and get damages for violence against theM. Special courts had been created to decrease impunity for violence against women, and changes had been introduced to the family law to address the legal gaps in protection from domestic violence.  Women were more frequently using the reporting systems for gender-based violence; most cases reported referred to sexual violence – of the 6,248 complaints made about 3,000 had a definitive outcome.

There was still a gap in women’s representation in politics but the campaign titled “More Women More Equality” had been put in place to raise awareness that women could take part in decision-making.  In terms of gender discrimination at work, the average national wage shows a 30 per cent gap between men and women’s wages, which was explained by women occupying roles in small and micro-enterprises.  Programmes were in place to provide women with micro-loans in order to improve their economic power.  As of October 2017, employers could sign a charter of understanding to give men and women equal wages and employment opportunities. 

Faced with the growing phenomenon of migration, El Salvador had put in place two campaigns to raise awareness of prospective migrants of the risks and dangers involved in irregular migration, particularly towards the United States.  The reform of the migration law was ongoing, with the proposal submitted by the director general for migration.  It sought to respect the rights of migrants, their integrity, access to family status, the right to non-discrimination, and the right to due process.  Temporary residency permits could be granted in as well with an authorization to work.

The law for general amnesty had been declared unconstitutional.  The Constitutional Chamber held a follow-up audience to assume reparations for victiMs. To fulfil the obligations in terms of investigation of past human rights violations, a special office of the court had been created to hear cases of human rights violations committed during the armed internal conflict.  The Office of the Public Prosecutor was considering 139 cases of the past human rights violations, and was also reviewing those cases that had been re-opened including those there the Inter-American Court for Human Rights had handed down a ruling. 

Progress was being made in awarding reparations to victims of the massacres, which was ongoing since 2009.  Exhumations had commenced to uncover the remains of victims and return them to families, while the National Commission for the Search of Disappeared Children had considered 307 cases and solved 89; 33 children had been found and taken back to their biological families, and in 30 cases the death of the child had been confirmed.  In 2017, El Salvador had set up the National Search Commission for Disappeared Persons during the armed conflict; its operation was financed by the State but the budget had seen some cuts.

On the question of people of African descent, a delegate said that during El Salvador’s next national census, which would occur in 2020, the idea was to collect quantitative data on what characterized that population so policies and actions could be taken into consideration to help that group of people. 

Questions by Committee Experts

Inquiring about pre-trial detention, Experts noted that often, it was extended to up to six days.  El Salvador viewed the high number of detainees as a success, but it also meant overcrowding.  There was also concern about the detention of people in police stations. 

Experts raised questions on the legal framework governing the rights of migrants and asylum seekers, the status of the migration and aliens act, and the practice of detention of asylum seekers including families with small children.  They also asked if the measures designed to protect unaccompanied migrant children applied to only El Salvadorian children or to all unaccompanied minors passing through the territory, and wished to hear more about the cooperation with the United States to address the problem of labour exploitation of El Salvadorian children once they reached America.

Welcoming the commitment to eliminate corporal punishment, the Committee commented that the wording of the legal amendment could still misconstrued that corporal punishment was allowed to “correct” children when they misbehaved.

Another Expert, addressing unreasonable checks on lawyers, noted reports of lawyers having their notes checked while interviewing prisoners, specifically female lawyers, and being subjected to intrusive and humiliating searches upon exiting the prison.  Were there procedures in place for complaints to be made and would the State end those practices, which were contrary to the prisoner’s right to a defence?

The Committee was concerned about the application of extraordinary security measures in prisons, and the impunity for police and army personnel.  Justices of the peace could dismiss charges against police and security personnel if their actions were deemed to be within the realm of defence; the number of dropped cases was extremely high, and to date no police or army officer had been brought to justice.

A policy to improve the condition of detention and reduce overcrowding had been in place since 2009, and had seen the improvement of the information system for prisoners, rehabilitation of the existing structures and the construction of new ones, and the betterment of the water, sanitation and hygiene conditions.  Still, the prisons suffered overcrowding, sometimes at three times the capacity, while in 2016 the judiciary had declared the conditions found in prisons unconstitutional and had ordered the Government to fix it.  Furthermore, there was trafficking of weapons, drugs and contraband in prisons; violence including murders, and suicide.  What were the short and long-term measures to improve the conditions of detention?

How many women were in prisons for homicide and how many for abortion?  Poor women were disproportionally represented in the prison population.

Experts raised concern that certain articles of the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Criminal Code could give rise to broad interpretations by the administrative and judicial authorities, which could open the door to abuse.  What measures had been taken to ensure the independent election of judges and magistrates?

Experts recognized the commitment of El Salvador to eliminate the worst forms of child labour by 2015 and said, despite the progress, the worst forms of child labour continued, including street begging, work in fisheries, agriculture and domestic environments.  What measures were being taken to eradicate child labour and which bodies worked directly in this regard?

Experts commended El Salvador for being the first State to adopt regulations concerning mining of indigenous lands, but noted that the consultation with indigenous peoples and the free, prior and informed consent were not being implemented systematically, while the legislation on land titles for indigenous peoples was lacking.

Among the greatest challenges in El Salvador was the high level of violence, illustrated by the highest homicide rate in the world in 2015.  The rate had fallen since but still remained very high.  The effects of gang violence could also be seen in high rate of femicide and the displacement of people.  What was El Salvador doing to address the problem of gang violence, prevent the recruitment of children by the gangs, and protect the people especially those most vulnerable?

El Salvador was one of the most dangerous regions for human rights defenders who enjoyed no protections.

Responses by the Delegation

In terms of the budget for the National Policy for Human Trafficking, a delegate explained that there was no specific budget but over the last two years, the victim support unit had received special funding in the amount of about one million US dollars per year and it was hoped that a special budget would soon be adopted. 

The delegation confirmed that 72 hours was the maximum limit for pre-trial detention and that an initiative was in place to reduce it to 48 hours.  Currently, over 39,000 people were incarcerated of which 32 per cent were awaiting trial.  Administrative detention was 72 hours and there were no plans to reduce it to 48 hours.  Judges had the power to set the time for the trial hearing; exceeding the 72-hour limit would immediately annul the trial proceeding. 

Non-intrusive controls and checks in prisons had been set in place; 17 whole-body scanners had been installed which was a huge financial investment.  Protocols were being put in place to avoid the intrusive checks.  No complaints had been received by public defenders concerning the unwarranted checks of their notes, however the delegation said they would pay specific attention to that.  They sought to keep a line of communication open to look at entry and exit protocols with advocates, applying their recommendations for improvement.  Over 600 new prison officials had been hired, 24 per cent of which were women, the idea being that women performed checks on women in cases where it was deemed necessary. 

Extraordinary security measures had been put in prisons to actually defend the right to public defence, and to prevent networks of supposed public defenders to carry out messages or orders between individuals deprived of liberty.  Additional measures had been amended or adapted by the Supreme Court of Justice so they were in line with the right to a technical defence.

The problem of overcrowding in prisons, amongst other issues, had received significant attention by the justice system, said a delegate.  The delegate continued to state that the Safe El Salvador Plan identified overcrowding to be the main problem stopping the reintegration of individuals in society.  Efforts had been undertaken, however, to increase the capacity and improve the situation of prisons.  In 2017, five major penitentiary infrastructure projects had been in place, while four projects to be finalized in 2018 would significantly increase prison capacity.  The cost of the projects to the Government was $58 million.  Rehabilitation measures sought to reduce prison sentences also helped with overpopulated prisons.  For example, for each day an individual worked in the community, the prison sentence would be reduced by two days. 

The State’s response to the increasing violence in the country was the Plan El Salvador Seguro (The Safe El Salvador Plan).  The previous approach which had involved the application of the Criminal Code to solving the crime was slow, and the focus under the new Plan was on prevention, rehabilitation and care for victims. Preventing violence involved wide-ranging efforts, the most important of which was education. 

The psychiatric hospital model had shown great results, said a delegate, explaining that psychiatric wings and day clinics to help psychiatric patients had been added to 16 hospitals.  Hospitals also had emergency units, to avoid institutionalization of patients and ensure their return home as soon as possible.  Currently there were 41 women and 53 men as permanent patients in the hospital psychiatric wards; most were abandoned by their families.  Official protocols guided the actions of hospital staff concerning such patients.  The delegation confirmed that sterilization without consent, including on women with disabilities, was a crime punishable with four to eight years in prison. 

The delegation explained that the main reasons for maternal mortality were sepsis, infection and chronic non-communicable diseases.  The number of pregnant women committing suicide had dropped from four to five per year to one or two. 

El Salvador strived to be a country with no child labour and it had laws and policies that protected children and adolescents from labour.  A household survey had found 131,000 children and adolescents aged five to 17 years being involved in labour of some kind.  The Government was undertaking inspections, and educating children and adolescents on the dangers of certain working conditions, and it had extended the legal responsibility for child labour to businesses as well.  Monitoring systems would also be set in place along with clauses to eradicate child labour with the participation of private businesses, and El Salvador had a national committee for the eradication of child labour.  Since the efforts began, over 19,000 children had been taken out of the labour market. 

Juvenile laws were modified to include the rights of adolescents and guarantee the rights of education and integrity.  Health, leisure, education and religious programs were created to help incarcerated adolescents with their reintegration into society.  They were given halfway houses staffed with well-trained staff who assisted their social rehabilitation and reintegration.

El Salvador was working on a migration policy with a human rights approach.  The proposal had been vetted by the legislature and its consideration was 80 per cent finished.  Migrants were allowed to remain in a centre where they were supplied with dignified conditions while they awaited deportation back to their country.  There was no legislation currently in place specifically for migrants. 

Most migrants from El Salvador went to the United States.  The Centre for the Protection of Returned Migrants had specialized services depending on where the person was from and their specific needs.  Nationally, since 2013, there was a working group to address the needs of migrant children, and its roadmap became a specialized protocol to assist migrant children and adolescents.  There were a number of campaigns to raise awareness about the dangers of migrating, including vulnerability of migrants to human trafficking.  On the international level, El Salvador spearheaded the migrant children’s network and brought the problem of unaccompanied migrant children to the forefront. 

In terms of the judicial appointments, the delegation explained that the legislative assembly reviewed the candidates for judges and magistrates.  Their resumes were made public and civil society also interjected in the process, making it as transparent as possible.  El Salvador supported the rights of human rights defenders and protected their activities.  The current protection mechanism was the law for the protection of victims and witnesses, which did not seem sufficient.  Concerning the anti-terrorism act, the implementation of that regulation had been submitted for judicial review; it contained a clear definition of terror, terrorism and terror groups.

Concluding Remarks

MARÍA SILVIA GUILLÉN, Presidential Commissioner for Human Rights of El Salvador, concluded by saying that the Experts’ comments were very valuable and reiterated the deep commitment of El Salvador to human rights.

YUJI IWASAWA, Committee Chair, in his closing remarks said that the Committee’s concluding observations, to be issued at the end of the session, would address, inter alia, discrimination, abortion, enforced disappearances, reparations for human rights violations, safety of human rights defenders, counter-terrorism act, and rights of indigenous peoples.


For use of the information media; not an official record

CCPR18.003E