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TITLE:  EL SALVADOR HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                          EL SALVADOR


El Salvador is a constitutional, multiparty democracy with an 
executive branch headed by a president, a unicameral national 
assembly, and a separate, politically appointed judiciary.  
Armando Calderon Sol of the Nationalist Republican Alliance 
(ARENA) party was inaugurated President for a 5-year term on 
June 1.  National and international observers judged the March 
presidential and legislative elections to be generally free, 
fair, and nonviolent.  Competing for the first time in 
electoral politics, the Frente Farabundo Marti para la 
Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) emerged as the major opposition 
party.  In November the U.N. Secretary General praised the new 
Government for its commitment to the 1992 Peace Accords, which 
ended a 12-year civil war, but noted delays in implementing 
some provisions, including demobilization of the National 
Police (PN), deployment of the National Civilian Police (PNC), 
judicial and electoral reform, land transfers, economic 
reinsertion programs, and implementation of Truth Commission 
recommendations.  (The Peace Accords established a Truth 
Commission to investigate serious human rights violations 
during the previous decade.)  Nevertheless, the U.N. Observer 
Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL), which monitors and verifies 
implementation of agreements between the Government and the 
FMLN, concluded that both sides had complied with most key 
measures by the end of the year.

The El Salvador Armed Forces (ESAF), which include the army, 
air force, and navy, reduced its manpower well below the 31,000 
troops authorized by the Peace Accords to approximately 
22,000.  In August the U.N. Secretary General reported 
indications that some ESAF members continued to carry out 
internal intelligence activities contrary to the new armed 
forces mandate set forth by the Constitution.  By the end of 
the year, the new PNC had replaced the military-controlled PN 
throughout the nation.

In December 1993, the Government, in conjunction with the 
United Nations, formed the Joint Group for the Investigation of 
Illegal Armed Groups with Political Motivation in El Salvador.  
Comprising the chief of ONUSAL's human rights division, the 
Human Rights Ombudsman, and two Salvadoran attorneys appointed 
by the President, the Joint Group reported its findings on July 
28.  It found that some groups and persons continued to resort 
to violence to obtain political results, including members of 
the military and police institutions, as well as judicial and 
municipal organs.  The report concluded that the Government is 
committed to combating politically motivated violence.  It also 
highlighted the growth of violent organized common crime in El 
Salvador.  The Joint Group recommended creation of a special 
unit within the PNC to investigate political and organized 
crime, a verification role for the National Counsel for the 
Defense of Human Rights (PDDH--headed by the Human Rights 
Ombudsman) in suspected political killings, and further reforms 
of the judicial system, the ESAF, and government intelligence 
gathering.  The Government agreed to implement the Joint 
Group's recommendations.  In August the PNC created a special 
unit within its criminal investigative division to focus on  
suspected political violence.  In September the Supreme Court 
fired 10 low-level judges for incompetence, forced the 
resignations of high-level Supreme Court administrative 
personnel, and initiated investigations of additional judges' 
performance.  The court fired three more judges in November.

El Salvador has a mixed economy largely based upon agriculture 
and light manufacturing.  The Calderon Sol Government 
maintained its predecessor's commitment to free market reforms, 
including privatizing additional banks and hotels.  People are 
free to pursue economic interests, and private property is 
respected.  The 1994 rate of real economic growth was 5 percent.

The number of extrajudicial killings, torture, disappearances, 
and mistreatment of detainees declined significantly in 1994.  
Other forms of human rights abuses, including use of excessive 
force and impunity from prosecution, also declined.  Delays in 
bringing detainees to trial and violence against women and 
children did not decline.  Reflecting the PNC's nationwide 
deployment, the greatest number of human rights complaints 
filed with ONUSAL were accusations against its members; a much 
smaller number were filed against the ESAF.  Victims attributed 
approximately 25 percent of such complaints to "unidentified" 
or "irregular groups."

The level of violence in El Salvador remained high, 
particularly murder, assaults, and robberies, including crimes 
against women and children.  Allegations of politically 
motivated assassinations, which had increased early in the 
year, declined by the latter half of the year.  There were no 
confirmed cases of politically motivated killings, but 
investigations in a number of cases remain open.  Some public 
figures reported death threats.

The Government acted to improve the institutional context for 
human rights.  In April the Legislative Assembly approved 
constitutional amendments on judicial reform that addressed a 
number of recommendations by the Truth Commission.  The former 
Supreme Court Justices ignored a Truth Commission 
recommendation that they resign due to complicity in the 
coverup of human rights abuses and served to the end of their 
terms in June.  In July the National Assembly elected a new, 
reform-minded Supreme Court.  In September the Government 
appointed a PNC inspector general to investigate allegations of 
human rights abuses committed by PNC agents.  There were 
reforms in other areas mandated by the Peace Accords, such as 
PNC training and deployment, PN demobilization, PDDH expansion, 
and judicial reform.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

ONUSAL did not confirm any reports of political killings in 
1994, although it continued to investigate some murders for 
possible political motivation.  These include:  two unknown 
armed men shot and killed Simon de Jesus Cartagena Pineda, a 
member of the Renewed Expression of the People (ERP) faction of 
the FMLN and a local municipal council candidate, and his 
stepdaughter on January 11.  On January 19, unknown assailants 
killed Javier Roberto Perdomo, a Panamanian technician with the 
Inter-American Institute of Agricultural Science, as he drove 
with his family in the countryside.  On February 7, three 
masked armed men shot and killed Ismael Bernardino Sion, a 
member of the Popular Liberation Front (FPL) faction of the 
FMLN, in his home.  On March 9, an unknown assailant shot and 
killed Jorge Bill Martinez Zaldana, a former technician of 
Radio Venceremos and a FMLN guerrilla, on a bus as he was 
returning to his home.

Other cases pending ONUSAL determination included the murder of 
Heriberto Galicia Sanchez, a former alternate Assembly 
candidate of the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR) party; 
the killing of Jose Isaias Calzada Mejia, an FMLN member who 
had worked as a voting table representative in the April 
presidential run-off; Luis Valdivieso Granados, a PN agent and 
a former ESAF soldier, found dead with his hands tied to a tree 
trunk.  Assailants shot and killed Elba Irene Magana de Romero, 
sister of ARENA Assembly Deputy Carlos Guillermo Magana.  In 
November three unknown assailants shot FPL member David 
Faustino Merino Ramirez and wounded two other FPL members in a 
restaurant in San Salvador.

The number of extrajudicial killings by government forces 
confirmed by ONUSAL declined significantly from 1993 to 1994.  
By October ONUSAL confirmed five extrajudicial killings by 
government officials, including an ESAF member based in Morazan 
department who killed a fleeing bicycle thief (ONUSAL termed it 
an arbitrary execution) and a PN agent who killed one youth and 
seriously injured another in Santa Ana department.  The PN 
agent responsible for the latter killing resigned the following 
day.  ONUSAL confirmed three other reports of extrajudicial 
killings, including a PNC agent who fired into a house in San 
Salvador while attempting to break up a domestic dispute, 
killing an elderly man, a PNC agent who shot a man without 
provocation while he was driving in San Vicente, and off-duty 
PNC agents who shot and killed a man on a bicycle in San Miguel.

The Government made progress toward resolving some human rights 
cases.  ONUSAL and the Government concluded that several 
murders of persons with ties to the ARENA party were the result 
of common crime.  Police arrested a person alleged to have ties 
to the FMLN for the highly publicized attacks on Elmer Cruz 
Pineda, bodyguard of FMLN leader and Assembly Deputy Nidia Diaz 
(Maria Valladares).  On the other hand, circumstances 
surrounding the attacks against Ruben Oswaldo Escalante, an 
ARENA candidate for the San Marcos municipal council, and PNC 
director Rodrigo Avila remain unclear.

There were no confirmed cases of death squad killings in 1994.  
In its July 28 report, the Joint Group found that civil war-era 
death squads were no longer active.  However, death threats 
directed against individuals and groups across the political 
spectrum remained a method of intimidation.  In April Mario 
Valiente, the ARENA mayor of San Salvador, reportedly received 
two death threats.  In May the Salvadoran Revolutionary Front 
(FRS) issued a communique denouncing the leaders of the 
National Resistance (RN) and ERP factions of the FMLN as 
traitors and sentencing them to death.  In June the "Domingo 
Monterrosa Command" issued death threats against members of the 
Joint Group, the Human Rights Ombudsman, Archbishop Arturo 
Rivera Damas, and Jesuit priests.  The group made no additional 
threats, and no evidence of its existence or activities 
appeared.  In October a district court judge in Usulutan and 
prosecutors in the Attorney General's office in San Miguel 
reportedly received death threats.  Reports of death threats, 
which had increased up through the inauguration of the new 
President in June, declined in the latter half of the year.

On November 14, a bus cooperative blocked a highway around San 
Miguel to protest competition from illegal buses.  After 
negotiations broke down, PNC officials and army officers gave 
the protesters 5 minutes to clear the road.  In the ensuing 
confusion, shots were fired and an army sergeant and 
2 civilians died, and about 20 others were wounded.  It is 
unclear who initiated the shooting or who fired the fatal 
shots.  The PNC investigation continues.

     b.  Disappearance

The Constitution forbids unacknowledged detention by the police 
or the military.  ONUSAL investigated several allegations of 
disappearances, but all were unfounded.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution prohibits torture.  In December the 
Legislative Assembly ratified the Convention against Torture 
and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 
subject to reservations.

The number of confirmed reports of torture by security forces 
declined in 1994, as did the number of reported incidents of 
mistreatment of detainees and uses of excessive force.  From 
January to September, ONUSAL confirmed three reports of 
torture, two by the PNC and one by the PN.  In July five PNC 
agents arrived at the house of Carlos and Miguel Grande 
Menjivar.  The police beat the two, took them to an 
unidentified place, blindfolded them, and interrogated them 
about the location of an alleged arms cache.  They placed 
plastic bags over their heads, burned Miguel's thorax with 
cigarettes, and repeatedly hit both.  ONUSAL reported that the 
PNC has yet to respond to PDDH inquiries, nor has it taken 
disciplinary action against the agents.  ONUSAL counted a 
significant decrease in reported incidents of mistreatment, 
from 120 reports during April-December 1993, to 74 reports 
during January-September 1994.  The number of reported 
incidents of use of excessive force declined slightly, from 45 
during April-December 1993 to 39 during January-June 1994.

Prison conditions remained bleak, with overcrowding the most 
significant problem.  The largest prison, built 20 years ago to 
hold 800 prisoners, holds approximately 2,800.  Most cells are 
15 by 20 feet, and some hold as many as 24 prisoners.  Some 
prisoners must sleep on the floor or "buy" a bed when one 
becomes available.  Prisoners are fed, but most find it 
necessary to supplement their rations with help from family.  
Approximately 40 prisoners died at the hands of other prisoners 
in riots, including 9 in February at the Santa Ana central 
penitentiary and 12 in August at the maximum security prison in 
San Salvador.  To try to stem prison violence, the Ministry of 
Justice hired 500 additional security guards in September.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention or 
compulsory exile.  ONUSAL reported a significant reduction in 
the number of arbitrary or unlawful detentions by security 
forces, from 185 complaints from April-December 1993, to 94 
complaints from January-September 1994.  Salvadoran courts 
generally enforced a ruling that questioning without the 
presence of a public defender is considered coercion, and any 
evidence so obtained is inadmissible; thus police authorities 
generally delayed questioning until a public defender arrived.  
From January to August, public defenders freed from 
incarceration approximately 50 percent of their clients.  
However, because of low salaries and insufficient supervision, 
the public defenders were able to handle only a limited number 
of cases.

By law, the police may hold a person for 72 hours before 
delivering him to court, after which time the judge may order 
detention for an additional 72 hours to determine if an 
investigation is warranted.  The law allows 120 days to 
investigate serious crimes, and 45 days for lesser offenses, 
before a judge must bring the accused to trial or dismiss the 
case.  In practice, the authorities rarely observed these time 
limits.

Although the law permits release pending trial for crimes in 
which the maximum penalty does not exceed 3 years, many common 
crimes (homicide, murder, manslaughter, rape, and crimes 
against property) carry penalties in excess of 3 years, thereby 
precluding release pending trial.  Because it may take several 
years for a case to come to trial, some prisoners were 
incarcerated longer than the maximum legal sentence for their 
crimes.  Any detainee may request a review (habeas corpus) by 
the Supreme Court, but the overwhelming majority of such 
requests are denied.  Approximately 80 percent of all inmates 
are awaiting trial or sentencing.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The court structure is divided into four levels:  justices of 
the peace, first instance (district) courts, second instance 
(appellate) courts, and the Supreme Court.  Civilian courts 
exercise jurisdiction over military personnel who commit common 
(nonmilitary) crimes.  Judges, not juries, rule on most crimes; 
however, a judge cannot overrule a jury verdict nor can it be 
appealed to a higher court.  Sentences, however, may be 
appealed up to the Supreme Court.  Under the Constitution, 
defendants have the right to a presumption of innocence, 
protection from self-incrimination, legal counsel, freedom from 
coercion, and compensation for damages due to judicial error.  
They also have the right to be present in court and to confront 
witnesses.  However, the authorities frequently ignored many of 
these rights in practice.

Judicial reform made some headway in 1994.  In April the 
Legislative Assembly approved two constitutional amendments 
consistent with Truth Commission recommendations to remove the 
Supreme Court's authority to discipline lawyers and allow lower 
courts to hear habeas corpus appeals.  The Assembly voted to 
create a new council to discipline lawyers; the Supreme Court 
will retain the power to license them.  Under the Constitution, 
the new Assembly must also approve the amendments for them to 
become law.

In July justices of the old Supreme Court left office when 
their term expired, after ignoring a Truth Commission 
recommendation that the court resign due to its complicity in 
covering up human rights abuses.  The Assembly elected a new 
Supreme Court which, in its first month, acted on its stated 
commitment to judicial reform by firing 10 low-level judges and 
forcing the resignations of high-level Supreme Court 
administrative personnel.  As recommended by the Truth 
Commission, the National Council of the Judiciary (NCJ)--an 
independent body that screens and nominates judicial 
candidates--evaluated judges for judicial aptitude, efficiency, 
discretion, and impartiality.  It also created a judicial 
school--administered by the NCJ--to train judges, lawyers, and 
administrative personnel in ethics, administration, and 
judicial reform.

Despite these reforms, some judges continued to be only 
nominally independent, appointed or reappointed through 
political affiliation and personal ties rather than for 
professional capabilities.  ONUSAL criticized the Assembly for 
failing to enact reforms recommended by the Truth Commission 
and passed by the former Assembly, such as reducing the Supreme 
Court's power, amending the NCJ law to guarantee the Council 
greater independence from the Supreme Court, and modernizing 
the criminal justice system as well as for not ratifying some 
international human rights conventions.  Some politically, 
economically, or institutionally well-connected Salvadorans 
continued to enjoy effective immunity from prosecution.  ONUSAL 
said the judicial system's deficient institutions contributed 
to this impunity and to the increase in organized crime in 1994.

All available evidence indicates that the Government holds no 
political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

According to the Constitution, the police must have the 
resident's consent, a warrant, or a reasonable belief that a 
crime is being or is about to be committed, before entering a 
private dwelling.  In practice, however, the authorities used 
forced entry to carry out arrests and investigations.  
Wiretapping of telephone communications by the Government, 
private persons, and political parties is illegal but occurs.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of the press, and this 
provision is respected in practice.  There was one reported 
incident of a government attempt to limit freedom of speech.  
The Government on May 3 ordered the expulsion of Angel Maria 
Martinez Mendizabal, a Spanish priest, for a sermon which 
allegedly violated Articles 82 and 97 of the Constitution, 
prohibiting members of the clergy and foreigners from engaging 
in partisan political activity.  The Supreme Court 
provisionally suspended the expulsion on May 5 pending 
consideration of an appeal filed by Martinez and the PDDH, and 
took no action on the appeal by the end of the year.

El Salvador has 5 daily newspapers, 8 television stations, 
approximately 150 radio stations, and 3 cable television 
systems.  Print and broadcast journalists regularly criticize 
the Government and report opposition views.  The Government did 
not use direct or indirect means to control the media.

The Constitution provides for academic freedom, and the 
Government respects this right in practice.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for peaceful assembly and association 
for any lawful purpose.  The Government respects this right in 
practice.  Organizations do not require permits to hold public 
meetings.  In May, however, the mayor of San Salvador issued a 
decree prohibiting public demonstrations in the capital during 
business hours.  Some organizations held peaceful 
demonstrations in defiance of the mayor's decree.  The mayor's 
office imposed fines, which the organizations refused to pay.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution and is 
respected.  Roman Catholicism is the official religion, but 
other faiths practice without hindrance.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution guarantees citizens the right to travel freely 
domestically and abroad.  There are no restrictions on citizens 
changing their residence or workplace.  The Government has 
provisions for granting asylum and refugee status.  The 
Government imposes no control on emigration and cooperates with 
international organizations that arrange Salvadoran emigration 
to other countries.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Citizens exercise the right to change their government 
peacefully through regularly scheduled elections.  The 
president and vice president are elected every 5 years; 
legislative and municipal elections are held every 3 years.  
The Constitution bars the President from election to 
consecutive terms.  Voting is by secret ballot, and there is 
universal suffrage.  There were elections in March for all 
national and local offices, including the Presidency, the 
84-seat Legislative Assembly, and all municipal councils.  The 
Nationalist Republican Alliance party garnered 68 percent of 
the vote in the second round of the presidential election and 
39 seats in the Assembly.  Competing for the first time in 
electoral politics, the FMLN emerged as the major opposition 
party, capturing 32 percent of the vote in the presidential 
election and 21 Assembly seats.  ONUSAL, local, and 
international observers, including a U.S. presidential 
delegation, judged the March 20 and April 24 (presidential 
second round) elections to be generally free, fair, and 
nonviolent, despite first-round administrative irregularities.

Prior to the election, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) 
undertook a successful registration campaign aimed at the 
traditionally underrepresented, primarily youth and women.  By 
election day, the TSE had registered 75 to 80 percent of 
eligible voters, although only approximately 47 percent 
exercised that right.

The number of women in politics is small.  In the March 
elections, Salvadorans elected nine women to the Legislative 
Assembly, a slight increase from the number in the previous 
Assembly.  The president and 1 of the 4 vice presidents of the 
Assembly are women, as are 2 of the 14 Supreme Court justices.  
One Cabinet minister is female, as are 31 of the 262 mayors.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

The Government demonstrated a willingness to discuss human 
rights issues and problems with international, local, and 
nongovernmental organizations (NGO's).  A number of 
nongovernmental human rights organizations, including the 
Catholic Church's Tutela Legal and the Human Rights Commission 
(CDHES), focus primarily on alleged abuses by the Government.  
The CDHES follows cases through the investigation and trial 
stages, provides free legal assistance, and publishes monthly 
reports.  Tutela Legal, the human rights office of the 
archdiocese of San Salvador, also follows cases and publishes 
periodic reports.  Numerous other church, labor, university 
groups, and NGO's have human rights offices that operate 
without legal restriction.  In addition, various international 
human rights groups visit or operate without government 
restrictions.

The Joint Group, comprised of the chief of ONUSAL's human 
rights division, the Human Rights Ombudsman, and two Salvadoran 
attorneys appointed by the President, reported in July.  It 
also provided the state prosecutor on a confidential basis 
information concerning specific acts of violence.  The Joint 
Group criticized some agents of the state, political parties, 
and NGO's for insufficient collaboration during its 
investigative period, but did not accuse any group of 
deliberately blocking the investigation.

ONUSAL's mandate is to verify and monitor implementation of 
agreements between the Government and the FMLN, to investigate 
alleged human rights violations, and to conduct educational and 
public awareness campaigns promoting human rights.  It makes 
recommendations to the Government and the FMLN, and reports 
directly to the U.N. Secretary General.  ONUSAL noted in 
November a significant reduction in reports of human rights 
abuses in 1994 compared to 1993, including arbitrary killings, 
death threats, and mistreatment, and confirmed no politically 
motivated killings.  It noted improvements in the judicial 
system, the PNC, and the PDDH, concluding that the process of 
promoting and protecting human rights is advancing.  However, 
it emphasized the need to complete judicial, police, and penal 
reforms, and criticized the Legislative Assembly for dragging 
its feet on judicial reform.

As the only human rights organization specifically established 
by the Constitution, the PDDH receives and investigates 
allegations of human rights abuses committed by government 
officials and, if warranted, lodges official complaints against 
specific officials.  In 1994 the PDDH received 4,284 reports of 
human rights violations, a significant increase from the 2,071 
reports received in 1993.  This upswing reflects, to a large 
degree, the PDDH's wider presence in the country.  The PDDH 
opened 8 regional offices in 1994, giving it 12 offices 
covering 12 of the country's 14 departments.

The PDDH will take over the ONUSAL human rights monitoring 
function in 1995.  In its November report to the Secretary 
General, ONUSAL commended the PDDH for progress in verifying 
human rights violations, strengthening institutional capacity, 
and promoting human rights education, but noted inadequacies in 
PDDH personnel, equipment, and financial resources.

The PDDH lodged complaints of human rights abuses against 
various government agencies, most frequently the PNC and the 
judiciary.  In numerous cases, the PDDH made specific 
recommendations for improvements in procedures and for 
indemnification of victims.  The PDDH criticized publicly the 
penal system's director general for failing to resolve the 
underlying problems prompting the prison riots, and called on 
the authorities to take steps to avoid future outbreaks of 
prison violence.  Although some of its recommendations were 
ignored, the PDDH said that some institutions did act on its 
recommendations in a satisfactory manner.  The PDDH commended 
the Legislative Assembly for initiating a review of the Penal 
Code.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution states that all people are equal before the 
law and prohibits discrimination based on nationality, race, 
sex, or religion.

     Women

Women are granted the same legal rights as men under the 
Constitution, but suffer discrimination in practice.  To 
improve their situation, the Legislative Assembly enacted a new 
Family Code in October 1993 which amends some laws that 
discriminated against women, most notably the large number 
living in common law marriages.  The new law also establishes 
courts to resolve family disputes.

Women suffer from economic discrimination and do not have equal 
access to credit and land ownership.  Wages and salaries for 
women remain lower than those paid to men.  Of the economically 
active female population, 65 percent works in the informal 
economy.  Training for females is generally confined to 
low-wage occupational areas where women already hold most 
positions, such as teaching, nursing, home industries, or small 
businesses.

Violence against women, including domestic violence, is 
widespread and apparently rising.  The Institute of Legal 
Medicine reported an increase in domestic violence against 
women, from 378 reports during the July-December 1993 period, 
to 496 during the January-June 1994 period.  Reports of sexual 
abuse against women also continued to rise.  In 1993, the 
latest year-long period for which statistics are available, the 
Institute for Legal Medicine received 598 reports of sexual 
abuse, compared with 564 reports in 1992.

From January to July 1994, hospitals in the capital city of San 
Salvador received, on average, 65 reports of rape per month, an 
increase over the 56 reports per month received in 1993.  The 
PNC received only four reports of rapes per month during the 
first 6 months of 1994.  To increase reporting of rapes, a 
regular newspaper campaign by the Attorney General's office has 
encouraged victims to press charges immediately after the 
assault has occurred.  A public prosecutor is on duty 24 hours 
a day at the San Salvador children's hospital to assist rape 
victims and their families in taking legal action.  
Nevertheless, prosecution of rape cases is difficult because of 
pervasive cultural attitudes.

     Children

The Government recognizes its responsibility for children's 
rights and welfare, though this is reflected more in its 
efforts to reduce poverty and promote family stability through 
economic growth than in direct expenditure on children.  The 
Salvadoran Institute for the Protection of Children, an 
autonomous entity, is responsible for protecting and promoting 
children's rights.  The Legislative Assembly passed in June a 
juvenile offenders law extending the age of a minor from 16 to 
18 years old.  Scheduled to go into effect in March 1995, the 
law guarantees minors due process, establishes additional 
treatment facilities for offenders, and reduces the sentences 
for minor crimes.

The Government works closely with state institutions and the 
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) to promote protection 
and general awareness of children's rights.  Despite these 
efforts, children continued to fall victim to physical and 
sexual abuse, abandonment, exploitation, and neglect.  From 
January to August 1994, the PDDH for the protection of children 
received 75 reports per month of abuses against children.  The 
number of children treated for physical abuse in the largest 
public hospital in San Salvador rose significantly from 92 
cases in 1992 to 525 in 1993.  Abused continued at this rate 
for the first 6 months of 1994 when the hospital attended to 
272 abused children.  The Institute of Legal Medicine recorded 
a reduction in reports of sexual abuse of children from 580 
reports in 1992 to 432 in 1993.  From January to May 1994, the 
Institute received 121 reports of sexual abuse of children.

Child abandonment and labor exploitation are growing problems.  
UNICEF reported that there were approximately 200,000 displaced 
children in 1994, and approximately 270,000 children work up to 
12 hours per day.  Child malnutrition and the large numbers of 
orphans are also significant problems.

     Indigenous People

El Salvador is an ethnically homogeneous country, though a 
small segment of the population claims to have descended solely 
from indigenous peoples.  The last census of Indians in El 
Salvador showed 80,000 in 1930, or 5.6 percent of the 
population.  In 1932 government forces killed approximately 
30,000 following an abortive uprising.  In the face of such 
repression, most remaining indigenous people adopted local 
customs and successfully assimilated into the general 
population.  There remain a few very small communities of 
indigenous people who still wear traditional dress, speak their 
native language, and maintain traditional customs without 
repression or interference.  The Constitution makes no specific 
provisions for the rights of indigenous people, and their 
ability to participate in decisions affecting their lands, 
culture, traditions, or the allocation of natural resources is 
limited.

The indigenous population generally is believed to be the 
poorest group in the country.  In a 1994 study, the PDDH found 
that 90 percent of the indigenous people lived in conditions of 
extreme poverty, with average monthly incomes one-half the 
legal minimum wage.  Employment opportunities outside the 
informal economy are few, and a high illiteracy rate precludes 
indigenous people from competing for limited skilled jobs.  
Indigenous people generally earn less than other laborers in 
farm and other agricultural work, and women in particular have 
little access to educational and work opportunities since they 
head most of the households.  Access to land is a growing 
problem confronting indigenous people.  Few possess titles to 
land, and access to bank loans and other forms of credit is 
extremely limited.  Domestic violence is widespread within 
indigenous communities.

     People with Disabilities

Except for the war wounded, who have secured both government 
and international funding for rehabilitation and retraining 
programs, the Government has no program to combat 
discrimination against the disabled, nor are there any laws 
mandating provision of access for people with disabilities.  
There are few organizations dedicated to protecting and 
promoting the rights of people with disabilities.  A 
semiautonomous institute, the Salvadoran Rehabilitation 
Institute for the Disabled (ISRI), is the primary organization 
providing assistance to approximately 12,000 disabled persons 
annually.  ISRI offers medical treatment and counseling, 
special education programs, and professional training courses.  
Founded in 1957, ISRI has 10 centers throughout the country and 
receives assistance from the Government and national and 
international private and nongovernmental organizations.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution prohibits the Government from using 
nationality, race, sex, creed, or political philosophy to 
prevent workers or employers from organizing themselves into 
unions or associations.  Numerous and sometimes conflicting 
laws governing labor relations impede full realization of the 
freedom of association, although recent Labor Code amendments 
(sponsored by the International Labor Organization--ILO) may 
bring about improvements, once they are fully implemented.  The 
current Labor Code prohibits partisan political activity by 
unions, but this prohibition is routinely ignored, and labor 
continues to play an important role in political activities.

In the 1992 peace accords, the Government committed itself to 
seek consensus on revised labor legislation through a 
socioeconomic forum with equal representation from labor 
(including groups aligned with the FMLN), the Government, and 
the private sector.  The Assembly passed such legislation in 
April, which streamlines the process required to form a union, 
extends union rights to agricultural, independent, and 
small-business workers, and extends the right to strike to 
union federations.

There are approximately 150 active unions, public employee 
associations, and peasant organizations, which represent over 
300,000 Salvadorans, approximately 20 percent of the total work 
force.  Labor alliances continued to change frequently, with no 
one group able to claim a leading role.  The current Labor Code 
forbids foreigners from holding leadership positions in unions, 
but unions freely affiliate with international labor 
organizations.

Only private sector nonagricultural workers have the right to 
form unions and strike; employees of nine autonomous public 
agencies may form unions but not strike.  Nevertheless, workers 
from other sectors, including the public sector, frequently 
have carried out strikes that, while technically illegal, were 
treated as legitimate.  Negotiations between public employee 
associations and the Government generally settle public sector 
strikes, although the Labor Code provides for mandatory 
arbitration of public sector disputes.  After a series of 
public sector strikes in June and July, the Government issued a 
warning that public workers would not be paid for days on 
strike, and threatened to use the police to open public 
buildings forced shut by strikers.  The Government docked the 
pay of striking members of a teachers' union, but in September 
announced an agreement, including an almost 30-percent pay 
raise, with the same teachers' union.  Labor disputes, and some 
strikes, continued in other public sectors, including public 
health and the judiciary.

The law prohibits antiunion actions before a union is legally 
registered; however, under the previous Labor Code, there were 
credible charges that the Government impeded union registration 
through exacting reviews of union documentation and strict 
interpretation of the Constitution, Labor Code, and union 
statutes.  With ILO assistance, the Labor Ministry put together 
a restructuring plan in mid-1994.  It is too early to tell if 
full implementation of the changes to the Labor Code and the 
restructuring of the Ministry will improve union registration.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Constitution and the Labor Code provide for collective 
bargaining rights, but only to employees in the private sector 
and in autonomous government agencies, such as utilities and 
the port authority.  However, both private sector unions (by 
law) and public sector employee associations (in practice) use 
collective bargaining extensively.

The Ministry of Labor oversees implementation of collective 
bargaining agreements and acts as conciliator in labor disputes 
in the private sector and autonomous government institutions.  
In practice, ministers and the heads of autonomous government 
institutions often negotiate with labor organizations directly, 
relying on the Labor Ministry only for such duties as 
officially certifying unions.  The Ministry often seeks to 
conciliate labor disputes through informal channels rather than 
attempting strictly to enforce regulations, leading to charges 
of bias against labor.  Corruption continues to be a serious 
problem affecting labor courts.

The Constitution prohibits discrimination against unions.  It 
provides that union officials at the time of their election, 
throughout their term, and for 1 year following their term 
shall not be fired, suspended for disciplinary reasons, 
removed, or demoted except for legal cause.  Employers 
generally observed this provision in practice, but in some 
cases fired those attempting to form unions before receiving 
their union credentials.  Even under the revised Code, there 
were credible reports of government inaction following 
dismissal of legally recognized union representatives.  The law 
requires employers to rehire employees fired for any type of 
union activity, although the authorities sometimes do not 
enforce this requirement.  In many cases, employers convince 
fired employees to take a cash payment in lieu of returning to 
work.

There are six functioning export processing zones (EPZ's).  
Labor regulations in these zones are identical to those 
throughout the country.  Companies operating in the EPZ's, 
while providing higher salaries and benefits than companies 
outside the EPZ's, strongly discourage organizing.  There were 
credible reports of some foreign-owned factories dismissing 
union organizers and, in some cases, physically abusing their 
workers.  Government actions against violations have been 
ineffective, in part because of an inefficient legal system and 
in part because of fear of losing the factories to other 
countries.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor, except 
in the case of calamity and other instances specified by law.  
This provision is followed in practice.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Constitution prohibits the employment of children under the 
age of 14.  It provides for exceptions only where such 
employment is absolutely indispensable to the sustenance of the 
minor and his family, most often the case with children of 
peasant families who traditionally work with their families 
during planting and harvesting seasons.  Children also 
frequently work as vendors and general laborers in small 
businesses, especially in the informal sector.  Parents of 
children in circumstances such as these often do not allow 
their children to complete schooling through the ninth grade as 
the law requires, since the labor which the children perform is 
considered vital to the family.  Child labor is not found in 
the industrial sector.  The Ministry of Labor is responsible 
for enforcing child labor laws.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

In July the Government raised the minimum wages for commercial, 
industrial, service, and agroindustrial employees by 13 
percent.  The new rate for industrial and service workers was 
about $4 (35 colones) per day; agroindustrial employees must be 
paid about $3 (26 colones) in wages, including a food 
allowance, per day.  Despite these increases, minimum wages 
were generally inadequate to meet the Ministry of Economy's 
standard of basic necessity.  An estimated 40 percent of the 
population lives below the poverty level.  The Labor Ministry 
is responsible for enforcing minimum wage laws and does so 
effectively in the formal sector.

The law limits the workday to 6 hours for minors between 14 and 
18 years of age and 8 hours for adults.  Premium pay is 
mandated for longer hours.  The Labor Code sets a maximum 
normal workweek of 44 hours, requiring overtime pay for 
additional work and limiting the workweek to no more than 6 
days.

The Constitution and the Labor Code require employers, 
including the Government, to take steps to ensure that 
employees are not placed at risk in their workplaces, and 
prohibit the employment of persons under 18 years of age and 
all women in occupations considered hazardous.  Nevertheless, 
Salvadoran health and safety regulations are outdated, and 
inadequate enforcement remains a problem.  Workers can remove 
themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardizing 
their employment if they present a medical certificate issued 
by a doctor or the Social Security Institute indicating that 
their health is at risk while using certain equipment or 
substances.  The Ministry of Labor attempts to enforce the 
applicable regulations and conducts investigations which 
sometimes lead to fines or other findings favoring workers.  
The Ministry has very limited powers to enforce compliance, 
however, and has suffered cutbacks in resources to carry out 
certification and inspection duties, which curb its 
effectiveness.

(###)

[end of document]

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