The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, was elected in June 2019 on a platform in which he promised, among other things, to promote and defend human rights and allow at least some abortions. More than two years later, the country is facing what seems more like a campaign to stigmatise and silence those who dare to question the politics of the government and defend the human rights of all people than the electoral promise.
Some of the official tactics seem to have been taken from neighbouring countries, others have been designed taking advantage of new technologies. In all cases, they are eroding human rights in El Salvador in an alarming manner. Here are three examples:
- Harassment and discrediting of activists on social media and the closure of spaces for dialogue.
- Harassment of journalists.
- No space for human rights on the current legislative agenda.
On 19 May 2021, the Legislative Assembly approved the creation of the ‘Special Commission to investigate the allocation of funds granted to non-profit organizations, associations and foundations,’ whose impartiality has been called into question. At the same time, the Assembly shelved a series of draft bills aimed at improving protection for those who defend human rights, e.g. the Justice and Human Rights Commission of the Legislative Assembly shelved the draft bill for the Law on the Comprehensive Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders and the Guarantee of the Right to Defend Human Rights. The draft Law on Gender Identity, the Special Law on Equality and Non-Discrimination, the Law on Protection of Journalists, proposals for reform of the Criminal Code in regard to the four grounds for abortion and the legislative initiatives for the laws on Creation of the System for Disappeared and Unidentified Persons and the National Genetic Data Bank also suffered the same fate.
FULL REPORT: Amnesty International, by Astrid Valencia & Josefina Salomón + PHOTO (part) by Yuri Cortez/AFP via Getty Images, 19 July 2021