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El Salvador

    October 04, 2019

    Evelyn Hernández © Oscar Rivera/AFP/Getty Images

    DOWNLOAD PDF OF UA 133/19 HERE

    Evelyn Hernández was acquitted of charges for aggravated homicide in August, after suffering an obstetric emergency in which she lost her pregnancy in 2016. However, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has filed an appeal, putting her at risk of further criminalization for a pregnancy-related complication. 

    On April 6, 2016, Evelyn Hernández, 21, suffered an obstetric emergency in her home in El Salvador which resulted in the loss of her pregnancy. Once at hospital, attending staff reported her to the police. She was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 30 years in jail for aggravated homicide. In 2018, a higher court overturned this ruling and ordered a re-trial.

    September 17, 2019

    Alejandra Barrera, a transgender Salvadorian activist who had been held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017, was released September 6, 2019, as a result of international advocacy efforts, spearheaded by Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition, National Immigrant Justice Center, and dozens of members of the United States Congress.

    August 19, 2019

    In response to a ruling by a court today in El Salvador under which Evelyn Hernández was acquitted of charges for aggravated homicide, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “This is a resounding victory for the rights of women in El Salvador. It reaffirms that no woman should be wrongly accused of homicide for the simple fact of suffering an obstetric emergency.

    Now that Evelyn has been acquitted, Amnesty International calls on El Salvador to end the shameful and discriminatory practice of criminalizing women once and for all by immediately revoking the nation’s draconian anti-abortion laws.”

    Background information

    On 6 April 2016, Evelyn Hernández, 21, suffered an obstetric emergency in her home in El Salvador which resulted in the loss of her pregnancy. Once at hospital, attending staff reported her to the police. She was arrested, tried, and sentenced to 30 years in jail for aggravated homicide. In 2018, a higher court overturned this ruling and ordered a re-trial.

    On 19 August 2019, Evelyn was declared innocent.

    June 25, 2019

    El Salvador’s new government must promote and implement transformative human rights changes that fulfill the nation’s international commitments, said Amnesty International today in a meeting with President Nayib Bukele, who repeatedly vowed to respect human rights.

    “We met with President Nayib Bukele to express to him our concerns about the grave human rights situation in El Salvador. We hope that his government will address these great challenges with determination and adopt without delay the changes the country needs to make human rights a reality,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    May 15, 2019

    In response to the discussion of proposed legislation in the Political Commission of El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly, which could have implications for access to justice for victims of the armed conflict, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

    “El Salvador’s legislators cannot turn their backs on the victims of crimes under international law and grave human rights violations committed during the armed conflict. The Salvadoran authorities are obliged to bring to justice anyone suspected of being responsible for the extrajudicial executions, torture and enforced disappearances that took place during the armed conflict. To do otherwise would risk becoming complicit in heinous crimes.”

    December 17, 2018

    In response to today's ruling by a court in El Salvador in the case of Imelda Cortez, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International Director at the Americas, said:

    “It is encouraging to know that Imelda Cortez has finally received justice. The authorities in El Salvador have taken a step in the right direction to protect the human rights of girls and women in what remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world for them.”

    “Amnesty International welcomes the fact that Imelda will be released after being detained for more than a year, but we must not forget the other girls and women who continue to face injustice in El Salvador just because they are women.”

     

    If you would like more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

    April 23, 2018

    El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly must seize the historic opportunity to decriminalize abortion before the current legislative cycle closes at the end of April, said Amnesty International today.

    “Having wasted several opportunities to decriminalize abortion in recent weeks, El Salvador’s lawmakers must act now to pass this landmark reform, which would save the lives of countless women and girls,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

    “The horrendous total ban on abortion violates the right to life, health and to be free from torture and other ill-treatment, impacting half of the country’s population. Failure to end this injustice would be a devastating step backwards for human rights in El Salvador.”

    El Salvador is one of the few countries in the world where abortion is currently banned under all circumstances. At least 23 women remain in prison for pregnancy-related complications in the context of the total abortion ban.

    March 14, 2018

    Maira Verónica Figueroa Marroquín, a 34-year-old woman who spent 15 years in prison after suffering a stillbirth, was released from prison on Tuesday following the reduction of her 30-year sentence for “aggravated homicide” under El Salvador’s total abortion ban. In response to her release, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s Americas Director, said:

    “While it’s a huge relief that Maira Verónica Figueroa Marroquín’s sentence was reduced and she has now been released, the real story here remains a tragedy. The fact that Maira has spent 15 years behind bars and had almost half of her life taken from her is a harrowing illustration of everything that is wrong with the justice system in El Salvador.

    “El Salvador’s total abortion ban is causing pain and suffering to countless women and girls and their families and clearly violates their human rights. El Salvador must decriminalize abortion without delay, and immediately and unconditionally release all women and girls imprisoned for having had an abortion or having suffered obstetric emergencies.”

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    February 15, 2018

    The release of a woman forced to spend a decade behind bars in El Salvador after having pregnancy-related complications resulting in stillbirth must open the door for an end to the country’s extreme anti-abortion law, said Amnesty International.

    Teodora del Carmen Vásquez was freed on Thursday after a court reduced her sentence, but at least 28 women remain imprisoned under the total abortion ban, according to women’s human rights organizations in the country.

    “It’s encouraging to see Teodora stepping out of jail, where she should have never been in the first place, but El Salvador is still far from fully ensuring the rights of women and girls in the country,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.



    “Authorities in El Salvador must urgently repeal this outrageous abortion ban which has created a pervasive context of discrimination, pain and injustice.”

    February 15, 2018

    Finally! Teodora has been released after a court reduced her sentence. She was forced to spend a decade behind bars in El Salvador after having pregnancy-related complications resulting in stillbirth.

    Teodora del Carmen Vásquez suffered a stillbirth in 2007, after the rapid onset of serious pain while she was at work. Police arrested her as she lay in a pool of blood. She was later sentenced to 30 years for ‘aggravated homicide’ in a trial full of irregularities under El Salvador’s total ban on abortion.

    Amnesty International has been campaigning for years to overturn the total ban on abortion in all circumstances in El Salvador. Teodora's release is yet another step towards justice where the total ban on abortion has led to at least 27 other women to be incarcerated. 

    December 14, 2017

    A court’s decision not to release a woman forced to spend a decade behind bars after having a miscarriage in El Salvador is an outrageous step backward for justice, Amnesty International said.

    Teodora suffered a stillbirth in 2007, after the rapid onset of serious pain while she was at work. Police arrested her as she lay in a pool of blood. She was later sentenced to 30 years for ‘aggravated homicide’ under El Salvador’s total ban on abortions.

    The trial was marred by irregularities. 

    “Teodora’s tragic story is a sad illustration of everything that is wrong with the justice system in El Salvador, where human rights seem to be a foreign concept,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Instead of punishing Teodora for being a woman, authorities in El Salvador must urgently take a hard look at their outrageous anti-abortion law and take immediate steps to repeal it.”

    December 08, 2017

    A court’s decision to postpone the hearing of a woman forced to spend a decade behind bars after having a stillbirth in El Salvador is an outrageous and careless act, Amnesty International said.

    “Teodora has waited 10 years to be before the court that sent her to prison for a stillbirth in 2007, but the judges were not ready to make the decision to undo this utter injustice,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Instead of punishing Teodora for being a woman, authorities in El Salvador must urgently take a hard look at their outrageous anti-abortion law and take immediate steps to repeal it.”

    Teodora suffered a stillbirth in 2007, after the rapid onset of serious pain while she was at work. Police arrested her as she lay in a pool of blood. She was later sentenced to 30 years for ‘aggravated homicide’ under El Salvador’s total ban on abortion.

    Her case was reviewed by the court today, but it decided to postpone the decision until Wednesday, December 13.

    August 22, 2017

     

    GOOD NEWS: Chile has decriminalized abortion!

    Chile’s Constitutional Tribunal has ruled in favour of decriminalizing abortion under three specific circumstances. This is an important step toward ensuring the protection of women and girls’ human rights across the country.

    A Chilean Constitutional Tribunal ruling on 21 August confirmed that the country’s constitution now allows for the decriminalization of and access to abortion under three circumstances: when the pregnancy poses a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or girl, when the foetus would be unable to survive outside the womb, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape.

    July 07, 2017
      The sentence against a 19-year-old rape survivor to 30 years in prison on charges of “aggravated homicide” after she suffered pregnancy related complications, is a terrifying example of the need for El Salvador to urgently repeal its retrograde anti-abortion law, Amnesty International said.   “El Salvador’s anti-abortion law is causing nothing but pain and suffering to countless women and girls and their families. It goes against human rights and it has no place in the country or anywhere,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. “The total ban on abortion in El Salvador violates women’s rights to life, health, privacy, due process and freedom from discrimination, violence and torture and other ill-treatment. All women and girls imprisoned for having had an abortion or experiencing obstetric emergencies should be immediately and unconditionally released, and the law must be repealed without delay.”  

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