Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2006 - El Salvador

Breaking and entering of the headquarters of the Association "Between Friends" and death threats against its members134

On May 30, 2006, the offices of the Association "Between Friends" (Asociación "Entre Amigos"), an NGO based in San Salvador and working for the protection of the rights of LGBT people, were broken into. The burglars stole some work documents relating to the organisation of a demonstration due to take place in June 2006 in front of the National Assembly to call for the respect of the right to equality and for the withdrawal of the planned reform of the Constitution135. Threatening letters addressed to the members of the organisation, including one containing death threats, were left at the headquarters.

Since then, the association has moved out and found new offices, but has remained under the surveillance of unidentified individuals four to five hours a day.

In addition, on June 1, 2006, Mr. William Hernández, director and president of the association, who is under police protection since attempts on his life were made in 1998 and 2000136, was seriously threatened in front of the organisation's headquarters, shortly after the police officer protecting him had finished his shift. An unidentified individual approached him and held a gun to the back of his neck, threatening to kill him if he continued "to bother" members of the National Assembly. The man then took Mr. Hernández's briefcase and ran off.

On June 30, 2006, a complaint was filed with the national civil police in connection with these attacks and threats. However, no investigation had been launched as of the end of 2006.

For the past five years, the Association "Between Friends" has repeatedly been subjected to acts of intimidation.

Search of CSTS offices, ill-treatment and judicial proceedings against Mr. Daniel Ernesto Morales Rivera137

On the night of July 5 to 6, 2006, the offices of the Trade Union Confederation of Salvadoran Workers (Confederación Sindical de Trabajadores Salvadoreños – CSTS) were searched without a warrant by the police. The police officers seized computing equipment, cameras and 1,500 euros in cash.

They also kept Mr. Daniel Ernesto Morales Rivera, head of the CSTS communication department, on his knees against a wall for three hours, and beat him to his head and face asking him "where the weapons [were]". The police officers claimed that a gun had been found on the CSTS premises and Mr. Ernesto Morales was then arrested and charged with "illegal possession of firearms".

The day before, several social and peoples' organisations had organised a press conference in the CSTS offices to denounce the wave of repression that followed the death of two police officers killed during a demonstration on July 4, 2006. The authorities were reportedly looking for the weapons used to kill the two officers. However, only the CSTS headquarters were searched.

On July 12, 2006, Mr. Ernesto Morales was released on parole.

He was acquitted in November 2006. However, the prosecution appealed against this verdict and the case remained pending by the end of 2006. The proceedings initiated by Mr. Morales Rivera and CSTS against Diana S.A de CV, a company belonging to the Minister for the Environment Mr. Hugo Barrera, following his unfair dismissal in 2005 because of his trade union activities, were also pending.

Moreover, on July 19, 2006, CSTS, jointly with the Centre for Labour Studies and Support (Centro de Estudios y Apoyo Laboral – CEAL), addressed an IAHRC meeting in Guatemala City to denounce the systematic repression of trade unions by the Salvadoran government.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

134. See Open Letter to the Salvadoran authorities, August 24, 2006.

135. The Christian Democratic Party (Partido Demócrata Cristiano – PDC) and the Catholic Church of Salvador campaigned for a reform of the Constitution to criminalise same-sex marriages and to prevent LGBTs from adopting children. This reform was approved by the National Assembly in 2005 but still requires ratification by the new Parliament, elected in March 2006.

136. See Annual Report 2001.

137. See Urgent Appeal SLV 001/0706/OBS 086.


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