Cristosal at the World Humanitarian Day in Panama

Cristosal's Chief Program Officer Celia Medrano was featured in a panel of experts on August 19 at the World Humanitarian Day in Panama. Medrano described victims of forced displacement by violence as "invisible, unrecognized, and uncomfortable." Victims do not want to be visible, because they are fleeing from their aggressors. They are unrecognized by the State, which fails in its duty to protect and assist these victims. They are uncomfortable because they are seen as a burden, and because those who do demand their rights highlight the government's failure to fulfill its duties. 

 
Celia Medrano speaking at the World Humanitarian Day in Panama

Celia Medrano speaking at the World Humanitarian Day in Panama

 

The event was attended by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O'Brien. Other panelists included the Norwegian Council for Refugees (CNR), the International Red Cross (ICRC), and Landivar University of Guatemala. 

The World Humanitarian Day is an annual tribute to people who have risked and lost their lives in humanitarian service. This year's event focused on protecting civilians caught up in conflict, with the reminder that civilians are #NotATarget. One of the specific focuses of this campaign is protecting forcibly displaced people. 

Learn more and sign a petition reminding world leaders to respect and protect civilians in conflict at http://worldhumanitarianday.org

Watch the Spanish video of the panel discussion here

Hannah Rose NelsonComment
UN Expert on Internal Displacement Visits El Salvador

UN expert on internal displacement, Cecilia Jiménez-Damary, spent four days in El Salvador last week. She noted with concern the lack of official programs working to combat forced displacement by violence.

 
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Cristosal's 2017 records show that reported levels of forced displacement so far this year are already higher than last year's. We recorded 53 cases representing 265 victims from January to July. (This does not represent the totality of the problem, as many people are afraid to seek help or report their cases.) Despite these numbers, forced displacement by violence is not officially acknowledged in El Salvador.

During her visit, Jiménez-Damary met with state agencies as well as social and non-governmental organizations. She attended a community workshop hosted by Cristosal, where she listened to community members speak about how violence impacted their lives. Local children represented their responses through art, (similar to our July event), and were eager to share their paintings.

 
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Jiménez-Damary was emphatic in her preliminary analysis that victims of violence are clearly entitled to their rights and protection by the State. 

Find more information in this article and video from HispanTV (in Spanish). 

 

Hannah Rose NelsonComment
El Salvador: UN expert on internally displaced persons to conduct first official visit

NEWS RELEASE

 

El Salvador: UN expert on internally displaced persons to conduct first official visit

GENEVA / SAN SALVADOR (10 August 2017) – United Nations human rights expert Cecilia Jimenez-Damary will conduct her first official visit to El Salvador from 14 to 18 August 2017, to assess the human rights situation of people forced to leave their homes due to factors including high levels of gang-related violence.

“Gangs in El Salvador use many forms of violence and criminality including murder, torture, rape, sexual exploitation, extortion, forced disappearances and threats, which leave people no option but to flee their homes,” said Ms. Jimenez-Damary, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons.

“This visit provides an important and timely opportunity for me to engage with the Government of El Salvador and others on the challenges they face and to consider legal, policy and other practical measures required to respond effectively to displacement, including the provision of essential protection for those affected,” said the expert, who will visit San Salvador and other areas of the country.

Estimates suggest that tens of thousands of people may have been displaced by violence in El Salvador each year with the vast majority thought to have fled persecution and violence by gangs. Many seek anonymity and have become invisible victims, while others eventually join irregular migrant routes.

In conducting her examination of the situation of those affected by displacement, the expert will meet senior Government officials, United Nations and other human rights, humanitarian and development partners, as well as representatives of civil society organizations and those who have fled their homes.

Ms. Jimenez-Damary will present her preliminary conclusions at the end of her visit on 18 August at apress conference, which will take place at 2:30 pm at the United Nations building, Boulevard Orden de Malta Sur, No. 2B, Santa Elena. Access to the press conference will be strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur’s full findings will be included in a report to the Human Rights Council in June 2018.

ENDS

Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, a human rights lawyer specializing in forced displacement and migration, has over two decades of experience in NGO human rights advocacy. She was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2016. As a Special Rapporteur, she is part of the Special Procedures of Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization, and serve in their individual capacity. 

Check the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement 

UN Human Rights, Country Page: El Salvador 

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In San Salvador (during the mission):
 Carlos León Ramos (+503 7729 5220 / carlos.leon@one.un.org) 
In Geneva (before and after the mission): Mr. Graham Fox (+41 22 917 9640 / gfox@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: 
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)   

You can access this media advisory online 

Concerned about the world we live in? Then STAND UP for someone’s rights today. #Standup4humanrights and visit the web page at http://www.standup4humanrights.org

Global School
Victim Assistance Update, January-June 2017

VICTIMS ASSISTED 38 cases of violence and forced displacement were addressed by Cristosal. 193 individuals were recognized as victims of violence:

  • 37% children
  • 50% women
  • 46% in situations of displacement
  • 35% direct victims, 65% affected through family ties

REPORTING Half of the households affected did not report their cases to the authorities, citing fear of reprisals, lack of trust in public institutions, and lack of evidence.

WORK AND SCHOOL 29 people stopped working and 17 people stopped attending school because of acts of violence and forced displacement. That’s 49% of the workers and 45% of the school attenders out of these 193 people.

MIGRATION 2 people wanted to go to Canada, 2 to the United States, 1 to Panama, and 1 to Europe. 30 people did not have a specific country in mind.

Hannah Rose Nelson
Salvadoran Kids Depict Hopes and Fears Through Art

This month, Cristosal hosted a workshop with Salvadoran children where kids explored the answers to questions about their lives and communities through painting. 

Questions included,

  • What do you like about your family?
  • What do you like about your community?
  • What does insecurity/a lack of safety mean to you?
  • What do you want to do when you grow up?
 
 

10-year-old Gabriela* loves her mom.

 
 

Erick's* favorite thing about his family is that they care for him. 

 
 

Vanessa's* favorite thing about her community is the soccer field by her house. 

 
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Alexis*, age nine, associates the feeling of insecurity with a robbery.

 
 

Insecurity makes Mario*, age eleven, think of the highway on the border of his community.

 
 

Benita*, age 8, wants to be a lawyer when she grows up.

 
 

Ernesto*, age 10, would like to be an accountant when he grows up.

 

*Names have been changed for security reasons

Hannah Rose Nelson
Cristosal Joins Human Rights Groups in Expressing Concerns to Rex Tillerson

Cristosal joined with many other human rights, environmental, humanitarian, labor, and faith-based organizations in expressing concerns to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson about the American policy approach to issues in Central America. More than 100 groups from Latin America and across the globe signed a letter sent to Tillerson a week before he met with officials from North and Central America in Miami at the June 15-16 Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America.

The letter details the epidemic of violence in the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras). Families, individuals, and children are forcibly displaced from their homes by both gang violence and excessive police or military force. The average citizen has no access to justice, and it’s common for crimes to go unpunished. To learn more about forced displacement by violence in El Salvador, follow this link to read Cristosal Executive Director Noah Bullock’s June article in the Humanitarian Exchange Magazine.

The signatory groups focus their concern on the likelihood of United States policy suggestions that depend solely on private investment and military aid. Their letter points out that encouraging an increase in private investment, unchecked by labor or environmental concerns, could actually increase displacement. Any investment plan that leaves out small farms and community-based development initiatives would cripple or bankrupt families in rural areas, forcing them to search for new livelihoods in other areas or countries.

Additionally, strengthening state police or military forces without requiring governments in the region to address the gross human rights violations perpetrated by state security forces will not foster prosperity or security. 2016 U.S. State Department reports on El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras all link state security forces to excessive violence, unlawful killings, and corruption. Ordinary citizens fear, hide, and flee from such forces, contributing to internal and external displacement in the region.

The letter closes by emphasizing the need for policies that address the root causes of violence and displacement while respecting individuals’ rights to seek asylum in the U.S. and elsewhere in the region. Until there are sustainable, human-rights-based solutions in place that work with civil society organizations to build inclusive economies and demand universal justice and accountability, long-term prosperity and security in Central America will remain out of reach. Read the letter and see the complete list of signatories here.

Hannah Rose Nelson
Global School Update
Global School mural.jpeg

Human rights, history, pupusas, El Salvador beaches… summer Global School seminars have it all! Seminars bring native Salvadorans and global participants together for a week to explore a variety of human rights topics. Recent themes include asylum law, youth leadership, and forced migration. Attendees tour historical and cultural sites, experience authentic Salvadoran arts and cuisine, and visit the beach—all within the context of discussing important human rights issues.

In May, we hosted our first seminar exclusively for legal professionals. Participants discussed domestic and international causes of and responses to violence, with a focus on culture-based victim protection. The first of its kind, this asylum law seminar paves the way for more such events in the future.

Two seminars were held in June. One focused on forced migration and displacement, the other on human rights and youth leadership. The open-enrollment forced migration seminar combined field visits with workshops about gangs, gender violence, and community development. Youth leadership seminar participants from the Diocese of Pennsylvania Youth explored human rights and youth problems through workshops, museum and historical site visits, and daily reflection.

Interested in an international adventure that develops your capacity to make a difference in the world? Join us for our 2018 Global School Seminars! Reach out to globalschool@cristosal.org to organize your seminar today.

Hannah Rose Nelson
Internal Displacement is “Invisible,” “Overshadowed” in Global Policy

Despite the fact that internally displaced persons “outnumber refugees by around two to one,” internal displacement continues to be overlooked globally by policy-makers and humanitarian aid budgets, according to the 2017 Global Report on Internal Displacement (GRID).

The GRID, released this month, features a spotlight on displacement in El Salvador by Executive Director Noah Bullock. El Salvador is “second in terms of new displacements [in 2016] relative to population size,” writes Noah. He notes that a vast majority of those displacements are caused by gang violence, including “murder, torture, forced disappearances, rape, sexual exploitation and threats to exercise control over territories and populations.”

However, Noah points out, there is no “national strategy, legislative or policy framework in place to…address” the problem.

To compound the issue, displaced persons rarely report the circumstances that caused them to flee their homes. Victims often fear additional violence from organized criminal groups, or mistrust authorities’ motives and ability to help. This is not surprising, considering Noah’s explanation that government “security forces have allegedly perpetrated extrajudicial executions, physical abuse, sexual harassment and mass arrests” in the name of subduing criminal activity.

On a global scale, the 129-page report takes a big-picture look of the number of people displaced by conflict and disaster in different countries. The report also discusses how “internal displacement has been sidelined in recent global policy processes and is overshadowed by the current focus on refugees and migrants.” The final section of the report points to reliable data as an essential driver toward the future visibility and prioritization of internal displacement.

The GRID is sponsored by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre and the Norwegian Refugee Council. The full report can be found here.

Hannah Rose Nelson
Executive Director visits Northern California raising awareness of human rights issues
 
Left to Right: Audrey Denney, Diane Paulsell, Kathy Veit, Glen Mitchel, Doug Mouncey, Noah Bullock, Beth Hershenhart  Not Pictured: Amy Denney Zuniga

Left to Right: Audrey Denney, Diane Paulsell, Kathy Veit, Glen Mitchel, Doug Mouncey, Noah Bullock, Beth Hershenhart  Not Pictured: Amy Denney Zuniga

 

Executive Director Noah Bullock spoke about Cristosal and human rights issues in several northern California cities last week. Highlights included Noah’s participation in the Dialogue on Immigration Policy and Human Rights at Stanford University, and his messages to several Cristosal Board of Directors members’ churches. Board Vice President Audrey Denney’s home church, Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Chico, California, hosted a human rights seminar. The Bidwell and Chico community was largely responsible for raising money for the new Cristosal website. Noah expressed thanks, and addressed the relevance of human rights work in today’s world.

Cristosal is “inspired by people who are committed to a vision of how things ought to be,” Noah said. He credited people of faith with championing the idea of human rights from the very beginning. He traced that beginning to the Golden Rule, saying both are “fundamentally concerned about how we treat the other.” The idea of basic human rights has always been “a conviction; a faith statement,” said Noah. Even during the logic-based Enlightenment, when human rights theory first emerged, “they never really found a rationale argument for it,” he said. Instead, Noah said, “the issue of fundamental human equality… was actually just something we believe.”

After World War II, Noah said the beliefs around human rights became laws. He said the World War II generation “thought the origin of that terrible conflict was indifference to how people were treated in other countries.” As a result, Noah said, that generation worked to ensure that “the foundations of…peace…be rooted in fundamental respect for human dignity…among people from all nations.”

Noah concluded by explaining that “human rights is not just a charitable thing. It's not just a moral thing. It's a security thing.” He said, “I'm fundamentally concerned about how you are treated…because if they're able to violate you, sooner or later, someone could violate my rights and dignity.”

During his time in California, Noah also attended a Board of Directors meeting at board member Amy Denney Zuniga’s Grace Episcopal Church in St. Helena. The people of Grace Church generously hosted the board members during their stay. Noah also visited board member Kathy Veit’s church, All Saints’ Palo Alto, as well as St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Davis, Christ Church Los Altos, the Diocese of El Camino Real, and the Church of the Epiphany.

Everywhere he went, Noah spoke up for the equality and dignity of all human beings. “My concern for the other is what I believe could keep us all safe,” he said.

Audrey Denney
Honoring the 25th Anniversary of the Peace Accords, Cristosal and Partners Discuss the Current Need to Address Forced Displacement by Violence
Cristosal's Davíd Morales, former Human Rights Ombudsman, presents on forced displacement by violence from a human rights perspective and data collected by the Working Group On Forced Displacement by Violence, the largest database of cases in the region. (Photo courtesy of Luis Enrique Garcia and the Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador).

Cristosal's Davíd Morales, former Human Rights Ombudsman, presents on forced displacement by violence from a human rights perspective and data collected by the Working Group On Forced Displacement by Violence, the largest database of cases in the region. (Photo courtesy of Luis Enrique Garcia and the Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador).

Commemorating today’s 25th anniversary of the Salvadoran Peace Accords, on Friday the 13th, the Civil Society Working Group on Forced Displacement by Violence presented their report “Internal Displacement by Violence and Organized Crime In El Salvador: 2016”. Before a full amphitheater at the Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador, Cristosal’s Davíd Morales, former Human Rights Ombudsman, presented the report and explained its significance. He highlighted that after attending to over 1000 different individuals, the Working Group could definitively say that internal displacement was a real phenomenon in the country and it was in El Salvador’s best interest to develop a solution.

The cases attended to by organizations in the Working Group make up the largest database on forced displacement by violence in the Northern Triangle region of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. While the numbers do not represent the total number of cases of forced displacement in the country (Crisis Watch estimates there were 324,000 in 2015), they do provide solid evidence that there is a problem and shed light on some of its dynamics.

For instance, a new finding from the report is that victims of internal forced displacement who want to flee the country haven’t been able to leave by their own means and have sought help from different civil society organization. The report also identifies that while there are organizations that attend to victims of violence, there are no institutions that specialize in attending to victims of forced displacement.

“There are not special programs for the attentions of forced displacement,” Davíd emphasized. “There are no institutions that specialize in this type of violence nor the capacities to offer this attention.”

Davíd insisted on the grave importance of considering the relationship between the different phenomena saying, “There is a direct relationship between violence, irregular migration and displacement. We have to pay attention to the dynamic these phenomena have in reality.”

You can find the report in Spanish here.

En el marco de la conmemoración de los 25 años de firmas de los Acuerdos de Paz en El Salvador, las organizaciones miembros de la Mesa de Sociedad Civil contra el desplazamiento forzado por violencia y crimen organizado, presentaron el pasado viernes 13 de enero el informe “Desplazamiento interno por violencia y crimen organizado en El Salvador 2016”.  David Morales, representante de Cristosal en la Mesa, fue el responsable de presentar el informe de la Mesa. Desde el inicio resaltó que la presencia de un gran número de asistentes manifiesta que el desplazamiento interno es una realidad del país y que el interés por solucionarlo es real. 

El informe representa el universo de casos que han podido atender las organizaciones de sociedad civil, la base de casos más grande en el Triángulo Norte de El Salvador, Honduras y Guatemala. Las cifras expuestas en el informe no demuestran la totalidad de casos de desplazamiento forzado que existen dentro del país, solo demuestran una fracción de ellos, con los cuales se pretende resaltar que el fenómeno de desplazamiento forzado existe, que hay víctimas y las dimensiones del problema.

Del universo de personas atendidas por la Mesa el 54% son personas que ya se habían desplazado, pero el 46% no lo habían hecho antes. Un nuevo aspecto que se logró percibir gracias a las nuevas herramientas de captura es que la victimas de desplazamiento interno necesitan modalidades para salir del país, y que estas personas han buscado apoyo en las organizaciones porque por sus propios medios no han logrado salir. En este espacio también se reflexionó sobre la necesidad de tener atención a víctimas de desplazamiento forzado; existen algunas instituciones que atienden víctimas de violencia, pero no hay instituciones especializadas para víctimas de desplazamiento forzadas.

“No hay programas especializados de atención a víctimas de desplazamiento forzado. No hay instituciones especializadas para este tipo de violencia y no hay capacidades instaladas de atención”.

Así mismo Morales insistió que es de suma importancia tomar en cuenta las relaciones que existen entre los diferentes fenómenos, por lo cual insistió “La relación entre violencia, migración irregular masiva y desplazamiento es una relación directa. Hay que reflexionar sobre la dinámica que tienen estos fenómenos en la realidad”.

Puede encontrar el ensayo aqui.

James Lochhead
2016 Presenation on Forced Displacement by Violence and Organized Crime

Commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Salvadoran Peace Accords, Cristosal and the Working Group on Forced Displacement by Violence will present their 2016 Report on Internal Displacement by Violence and Organized Crime.

The presentation will begin at 3:00pm, Friday the 13th in the Peace Auditorium, in the Francisco Morazán at the Universidad Tecnológica de El Salvador. Calle Manuel José Arce.

We invite you to consult the agenda (Spanish) for more information.

James Lochhead
Developing Competencies On LGBT+ Issues
Alex Golcher facilitating a workshop on gender violence related to LGBT+ human rights abuses

Alex Golcher facilitating a workshop on gender violence related to LGBT+ human rights abuses

Collaborating with the Salvadoran LGBT+ population to address gender-based violence and human rights abuses requires that Cristosal's staff develop the necessary competencies to professionally interact with LGBT+ persons without replicating the cultural violence found in the everyday status quo.

On Wednesday, December 6th, Alex Golcher and Cristosal’s Center for Research and Learning facilitated an all-staff workshop to better understand the unique needs of LGBT+ victims of rights abuses and the relationship between gender, sexuality and violence.

Through an interactive discussion, the workshop focused on three learning objectives of:

  • Building fluency in definitions and terms to reinforce an appreciation that sexual orientation does not necessarily coincide with gender identity or expression

  • Learning tools and best practices for engaging with transgender persons such as soliciting and using their preferred pronoun (he, she, they, them, etc.)

  • Providing a conceptual framework that connects the gender based violence experienced by women and LGBT+ persons as both being rooted in, and enabled by heteronormativity, the notion that heterosexuality is the only normal and natural expression of sexuality

Learn more about the Center for Research and Learning here and our research on LGBT+ rights issues, including the report, Religious Freedom and LGBTI People: Guide for Dialogue on Human Rights in El Salvador

James Lochhead
A Letter from the Director for #GivingTuesday

Dear friends,

This political season has generated great anxiety for many, both within the United States and abroad. Now during this time of transition, it is critically important that we take actions as a global community, affirming our commitment to creating a world in which the rights of all people are respected.

This year, El Salvador is again predicted to be the most violent country in the world not-at-war. As a result, as Kirk Semple wrote last Saturday in the New York Times, we are witnessing a pressing refugee crisis emerging out of Central America’s Northern Triangle. Unprecedented violence is driving entire families abroad seeking protection, many of them to the United States’ southern border. Between 2010-2015 alone, the number of Salvadoran asylum applications world-wide has increased over 500% (UNHCR).

As one Central American migrant said, “you don’t migrate now in search of the American dream… you go for your life.”

Cristosal is one of the few organizations providing direct assistance to migrants and refugees fleeing violence in Central America. Our staff works with families to not only guarantee their safety, but provide legal advocacy and help create a national protection system capable of attending to victims’ needs.

This #GivingTuesday, we ask you to take action and affirm your support for the rights of those most vulnerable in our hemisphere.

Cristosal works with families and institutions to create real protection options for migrants and refugees in Central America. We also work at the global level; Cristosal partcipated in conversations with the UN to develop a Global Compact that can comprehensively address the needs of refugees in our hemisphere. A key pillar of the Compact also calls for us all to work together and combat xenophobia in all its forms, including rhetoric that would diminish the rights of the very families we serve.

Now, more than ever, we need your prayers and support. Please make your gift today and affirm your commitment to protecting the rights of migrants and refugees fleeing violence in our hemisphere.

Thank you,

Noah Bullock

Executive Director

Hannah Perls
Nowhere To Go: New Documentary from Noah Bullock and Global Eyes Media on Communities Created by Displaced Families in El Salvador

When the poor are forced to flee their homes from violence, where do they go?

El Milagro de Dios is a 20 minute documentary by Noah Bullock, Doriana Hammond and Jeff Hammond that follows families from one of the over 2,000 impromptu communities in El Salvador.  
It tells the stories of people like Veronica who fled her home with her family after the gangs shot her and murdered her sister. Unable to afford rent anywhere else, they moved onto an abandoned coffee farm with 600 other families.

“Yeah I miss it because we had a great house,” her mom says. “In the house there is a phone, electricity and a ceramic floor. There is plenty of running water, seven rooms, dry space to hang clothes and a garden. I Lost my house, lost my children. I lost everything… everything. They killed my daughter, and this one they almost killed. I had to flee from there to save my life, right?”

With the lack of employment options, these settlements are the only affordable option for 2,000,000 people like Veronica in El Salvador.

There is no public policy to provide basic services like electricity, running water and sewage to these communities.The government’s lack of response places communities in a very vulnerable position and the loss of a home translates into difficulties in accessing other basic human rights including work, education, healthcare and security.

Cristosal recognizes that the 324,000 people displaced from their homes need a safe place to live. In 2017, our Community Development Program will evolve to work with communities and victims to create more secure options to resettle families in El Salvador who were forced to flee violence.

We encourage you to not only watch this documentary, but share it! In viewing the film, you raise your awareness. Watching it with a loved one or as a community event in your parish creates a conversation that can lead to group action. For some tips on getting people together, check out these organizing materials.

James Lochhead
Expanding the Narrow "Tough on Crime" Focus to Policies and Programs for Victims of Violence

Salvadoran Vice President Oscar Ortiz this month downplayed Amnesty International’s recent report “Home Sweet Home? Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador’s role in a deepening refugee crisis” which highlights the role the Governments of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala play in deepening the refugee crisis in the region.

The report echoes findings from the  Narrative Report on Forced Displacement in El Salvador (Here in Spanish) Cristosal released earlier this year including:

  • The Salvadoran State’s inability to protect citizens from violence
  • The lack of policies and programs for assisting victims
  • Abuse of force by authorities as a major cause of displacement

Amnesty’s report highlights Andres' story (not his real name) of torture at the hands of security forces in a seemingly desperate attempt to demonstrate control by forcing a confession of his participation in a shoot-out.

“He said the soldiers poured bottles of water into his mouth and nose, put his head in a puddle, stuffed sand into his mouth, jumped on his stomach, then kicked, punched and threatened to kill him unless he confessed.”

Vice President Ortiz responded to the report saying, “We read these reports with caution and pay a great deal of attention to each observation and assessment,” but that the problem of displacement and the consequent migration to other countries isn’t a principle problem compared to their focus on combating gang activities.

Cristosal Chief Program Officer, Celia Medrano publicly responded with warnings of the futility of any security plan that neglects a response to victims and called the government’s response “cynical and irresponsible.” Cristosal continues to assert that a security plan must place victims at the center of policies and programs.

To learn more about how Cristosal works to strengthen protections for victims of violence, check out our different programs.

Cristosal Program Officer Celia Medrano is asking Salvadoran Vice President Oscar Ortiz to focus on policies and programs for victims of violence and not just the suppression of gangs.

Cristosal Program Officer Celia Medrano is asking Salvadoran Vice President Oscar Ortiz to focus on policies and programs for victims of violence and not just the suppression of gangs.

James Lochhead
Former Human Rights Ombudsman Davíd Morales Joins Cristosal

We are very pleased to welcome Davíd Morales to Cristosal!!

Davíd brings an impressive 25 years of experience working as a human rights lawyer, including his time as the Salvadoran Ombudsman for Human between 2013 and 2016. He will be assisting in the expansion of the Observatory on Forced Displacement by Violence into Honduras and Guatemala.

During his tenure as Ombudsman, David was a strong advocate for victims of forced displacement. Thanks to his leadership, the Ombudsman’s office worked closely with Cristosal to release the first report (Here In Spanish) by the government of El Salvador recognizing forced displacement by violence.
 

Cristosal recently hired former Human Rights Ombudsman David Morales, shown here with Chief Program Officer Celia Medrano at the presentation of the first report by a Salvadoran Government Institution on forced displacement.

Cristosal recently hired former Human Rights Ombudsman David Morales, shown here with Chief Program Officer Celia Medrano at the presentation of the first report by a Salvadoran Government Institution on forced displacement.

He looks forward to continuing to focus the Salvadoran Government on establishing policies and procedures for victims of violence commenting,

"Civil Society and our organizations can offer support to victims... but in the end it is the state that needs to assume this role. Cristosal has taken on the task of changing public policies so that the state takes up the responsibility to defend the human rights of victims of violence.

My dream would be that these the state eventually fulfills its obligations to families; that they fulfill their responsibilities in a way that truly assists and protects victims that have been abandoned."


Interested in getting some hands-on training in migration and forced displacement from Cristosal staff? Consider joining us for a week in El Salvador through our Global School.

James Lochhead
Cristosal Welcomes Scott Pentzer - Our New Resident Scholar - To Our Board

A native of Northern California, Scott Pentzer completed undergraduate and graduate work in Latin American Studies at Georgetown and Tulane universities. Scott has studied, volunteered, and worked in Mexico, Peru, and Costa Rica where he directed study abroad programs for the Associated Colleges of the Midwest from 2004-2009. Scott currently serves as the Associate Dean for Global Education at Tulane and is a member of St. George’s Episcopal Church in New Orleans.

James Lochhead
Audrey Denney Joins Cristosal's Board of Directors! Our Communication Guru Has Arrived

We are excited to welcome Audrey Denney and her contagious enthusiasm to Cristosal's Board of Directors. We have her to thank for this beautiful website and can't wait to see all the innovative ideas she will contribute in the work ahead. 

Audrey is passionate about human rights and working toward a world where everyone can claim their rights.  Her history with El Salvador began in 2007 when she was a volunteer for Cristosal in Usulután working on agriculture and development projects.  

Audrey receiving a lesson in organic farming as a volunteer with Cristosal in Usulutan.

Audrey receiving a lesson in organic farming as a volunteer with Cristosal in Usulutan.

Audrey has worked in agricultural education for her whole career. She earned her Bachelors and Masters of Science degrees in Agricultural Education at California State University, Chico.  She has a passion for education and taught agriculture at California State University, Chico for six years.  She has done long-term development work overseas on two occasions working with small holder farmers in Latin America and West Africa.

Audrey has been working as a learning designer at Vivayic since 2015.  She manages projects and crafts experiential learning experiences for groups like the World Bank, the American Farm Bureau, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

James Lochhead
We're hiring! Global School Coordinator & Executive Associate positions open.

Global School Coordinator

We are looking to hire a Global School Coordinator, who will plan and design the curriculum for the Center for Research and Learning's Human Rights Seminars. Interested candidates should send their resume, cover letter, and two recommendation letters to jmrikkers@cristosal.org. Download the complete job description here.


Executive Associate

Description: The Executive Associate (EA) provides administrative, record keeping, logistical and communication support to the Executive Director (ED). The EA can expect to gain personal, hands-on experience and skills related to non-profit management, especially program development and coalition-building as they relate to human rights issues in Central America.

Send resumes or CV in English or Spanish along with a cover letter explaining your interest in this position and at least two reference letters from people who can address your experience and skills in relation to this position to asistencia.admin@cristosal.org by 5:00 pm November 4.

Audrey Denney
The Reverend Juan Maria Acosta, 1942 – 2016

Together we mourn the passing and celebrate the life of the Rev. Juan Maria Acosta, member of the Cristosal board for six years, and ardent supporter of Hispanic mission and service.

Eternal rest grant to Juan, O Lord. Let light perpetual shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercies of God, rest in peace. Amen.

You can read the full obituary, written by Cristosal Board Vice President the Rev. George Woodward III, here:

Audrey Denney