Update on Supreme Court cases, “Amparos”


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In regard to the appeals for amparo (protection) filed by families displaced by violence before the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador’s Supreme Court, Cristosal expresses:

1. To date, six appeals for amparo have been filed with the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador’s Supreme Court. The amparos represent 60 people in six different family groups, all of whom are victims of violence in a condition of internal displacement. Representatives of each family group have sued several state institutions responsible for security and justice. This is significant because the judicial system in El Salvador had never before been activated to influence the government’s stance on forced displacement by violence, much less to make accusations about the lack of protection for displacement victims.

2. Five of the amparos have been accepted. The last one, which was presented this year, is in the process of being accepted. The cases filed earlier are in the advanced stages of the Court’s processing system, and three of them are in the evidence-gathering stage. It is very possible that there will be a final ruling in some of the cases in the coming months, which is expected to establish a positive precedent for victims of internal forced displacement in El Salvador. The final ruling has the power to send an important message in terms of official recognition of the problem and its real dimension. The ruling could also function to shape legislation that guarantees human rights in the comprehensive assistance and protection mechanisms based on international standards.

3. The Institute for Human Rights at the University of Central America, José Simeón Cañas (IDHUCA, from its Spanish acronym), and the Asylum Access Foundation–two prestigious institutions in the defense of human rights–have presented themselves as Amicus Curiae (friend of the Court) in one of the amparo cases. The role of Amicus Curiae allows an independent third party to contribute information or insight and assist in the resolution of a case. The aforementioned institutions have contributed elements regarding the scope of internal forced displacement, international human rights parameters, and comparative experience in the development of policies on internal forced displacement.

4. As was pointed out in the recent release of Cristosal’s 2017 Report on Forced Displacement in El Salvador, there has been an increase in cases of generalized violence that affect girls and women. Therefore, officially recognizing the phenomenon and ensuring specialized and comprehensive care for victims of forced displacement, based on a specific legal framework, are both urgently needed.

5. The preliminary measures ordered by the Court so far in these cases provide an idea of the kind of actions that are expected of government institutions: “measures to ensure the safety of the petitioners...as well as measures to prosecute those responsible,” and “security mechanisms that enable [the petitioners] to return to their homes and recover their assets.”

6. We hope that this struggle, initiated by some of the victims of internal forced displacement, will contribute to the recognition of internal forced displacement and to the realization of policies and programs for comprehensive and specialized attention to the many victims of violence in the country.

San Salvador, May 16, 2017

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Hannah Rose Nelson