Press Release from the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of El Salvador

Constitutional chamber orders adoption of protection measures in favor of victims of internal forced displacement


In a resolution signed today, the Constitutional Court accepted an amparo petition, filed by a family harassed by gangs for alleged violations of their rights to material security, family protection, non-jurisdictional protection, and freedom of movement and property. Neither the National Civil Police nor the Attorney General's Office have issued in a timely manner measures for prosecution of the crimes or internal forced displacement the petitioners have suffered; nor have proceedings been carried out to guarantee the petitioners’ safe return to their residence.

The plaintiffs stated that they started being harassed by the “18” gang because some of their family members are soldiers. In their lawsuit, they relate several events in which members of their family were threatened, beaten, harassed, and raped. They pointed out that the entire family (composed of several groups of grandparents, parents, and children) is at risk and has had to move to other places, even outside their home city.

Based on the above reasons, the petitioners stated that neither the National Civil Police nor the Attorney General's Office activated the ordinary or extraordinary protection measures established in the Special Law for the Protection of Victims and Witnesses, although several delegations and units of the National Civil Police and the Attorney General’s Office were aware of the above facts. The petitioners also challenged the failure to issue, develop, and promote secondary laws, regulations, policies, programs, and protocols to ensure the protection of victims of internal forced displacement on the part of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Legislative Assembly, the Coordinating Commission for the Justice Sector, and the Executive Technical Unit.

The Constitutional Chamber considers that the application for amparo meets the requirements for acceptance. It also orders that the National Civil Police and the Attorney General's Office take appropriate measures to ensure the personal security of the petitioners with respect to the threats against them by members of the “18” gang, and to prosecute those responsible for the crimes reported by the plaintiffs and any other crimes investigated in relation to the case. In addition, the National Civil Police and the Attorney General's Office are ordered to immediately provide relevant security mechanisms so the plaintiffs can return to their homes to recover material assets that they have thus far been unable to retrieve because of the gang’s threats.

Due to the existence of the reasonable threat to life, personal integrity, liberty, and property for the plaintiffs, the court omits the identity of the plaintiffs and restricts access to their judicial files.

The amparo resolution was signed by magistrates Florentín Meléndez, Sidney Blanco, Rodolfo González, and Sonia Barillas de Segovia.

San Salvador, October 6, 2017.

Hannah Rose Nelson