The Institute of Human Rights at the Central American University José Simeón Cañas (IDHUCA), the Passionist Social Service (SSPAS), Cristosal, and the Foundation for Studies on the Application of Law (FESPAD), in reponse to the reactions of senior government officials following the allegations of extrajudicial executions attributed to agents of the State responsible for ensuring citizen security, EXPRESS:
Our lament that, following the thematic hearing convened by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on September 5, 2017, to address the issue of alleged extrajudicial executions in El Salvador, the petitioning organizations have been subjected to public expressions of disqualification, stigma, and unfounded allegations about possible links with illicit groups, which we categorically reject.
Such public expressions were made by senior officials of the State, among them the Minister of Justice and Security, the Deputy Minister of Justice, the Director of the National Academy of Public Security, and the President of the Legislative Assembly.
The submission of complaints or requests for thematic hearings before the IACHR constitutes a right of citizens and human rights organizations, as established in the American Convention on Human Rights, of which El Salvador is a State Party, and must be viewed as something within the framework of the rule of law.
We regret that, in view of the extremely grave facts presented at the hearing, the response by senior government officials has resulted in attacks on human rights organizations, as well as contempt for the legitimate use of the Inter-American System for the Protection of the Human Rights and of the people who represent the same.
It should be remembered that, in the face of any allegation of human rights violations—such as alleged extrajudicial executions and other serious violations of human rights—it is the non-transferrable obligation of competent authorities to seriously investigate these facts. This is especially important when these allegations are based on official data provided by the National Civil Police (PNC), the Ministry of National Defense and the Attorney General's Office, the resolutions of the Office of the Attorney General for Human Rights (PDDH), and the cases on which these institutions are working.
The best way to protect State institutions is to carry out diligent investigations and allow access to justice for victims. This is the only way to strengthen and legitimize security institutions. On the contrary, disqualification, stigmatization, and unfounded allegations against human rights organizations is a path which can escalate the criminalization of human rights defenders and journalists, and we urge state authorities to refrain from continuing with this practice.
We also demand compliance with the recommendations of the PDDH and the IACHR, including strengthening the internal controls of the PNC and responding effectively to the concerns of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights regarding a possible pattern of extrajudicial executions in the country.
We also reiterate our solidarity with victims of violence, including the families of members of the PNC, members of the Armed Forces, and all those who have died due to their work or attacks by criminal groups, and we demand serious investigations and justice in the face of such facts.
We also recognize various State efforts and advances in the area of ecurity policies, especially those aimed at advancing compliance with the Safe El Salvador Plan. However, we are concerned that the protection and care of victims of violence and human rights violations remains the sticking point which is diminishing progress in this area. Likewise, we are concerned about the approval of new plans that follow the logic of repression and oppose what is established in the Safe El Salvador Plan.
Finally, we reiterate our willingness to engage in frank dialogue and collaborate in the development of a professional police force that is respectful of human rights, as we have been doing since the Police Action Panel established before the Ministry of Justice and Public Security.
San Salvador, September 14, 2017