Press release from the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court

The court orders protection measures for more victims of internal forced displacement

San Salvador, November 22, 2017 The Constitutional Chamber admitted two more amparo claims filed by family groups harassed by gangs, claiming the violation of their rights to material security, family protection, non-jurisdictional protection, freedom of movement, and property. Neither the National Civilian Police, nor the Attorney General of the Republic, nor the Unit for the Protection of Victims and Witnesses of the Executive Technical Unit of the Justice Sector (UTE) acted in a timely manner to issue measures for the prosecution of those responsible for the reported crimes, or measures to address the internal forced displacement they suffered; nor have steps been taken to guarantee the plaintiffs’ safe return to their places of residence.

In both lawsuits, it was stated that neither the Attorney General, nor the National Civilian Police, nor the Unit for the Protection of Victims and Witnesses of the UTE activated the ordinary and extraordinary protection measures established in the Special Law for the Protection of Victims and Witnesses, despite the fact that several delegations and units of the National Civilian Police and the Attorney General’s Office were aware of the aforementioned facts. In addition, the petitioners challenge the failure to issue, prepare and promote secondary laws, regulations, policies, programs and action protocols to guarantee the protection of victims of internal forced displacement by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security, the Legislative Assembly, the Coordinating Commission of the Justice Sector and the Executive Technical Unit.

The Constitutional Chamber concludes that both applications for amparo comply with the requirements to be admitted. These resolutions order that the National Civilian Police and the Attorney General’s Office adopt proper measures to ensure the personal integrity and security of the plaintiffs with respect to the threats against them by gang members; and adopt appropriate measures to prosecute those responsible for the crimes reported by the plaintiffs and any other crime that is investigated in relation to the case. In addition, they must immediately provide relevant security mechanisms so the plaintiffs can return to their homes to recover their respective material assets which they have not been able to recover due to the threats suffered.

Due to the reasonable existence of threatened or actual damage to the life, personal integrity, liberty, property and possessions of the plaintiffs, the Court will protect the identity of the plaintiffs, reserve the case and restrict access to the judicial file.

The suits were admitted by magistrates Florentín Meléndez, Edward Sidney Blanco and Rodolfo González.

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Hannah Rose Nelson