Violent State Action against Women in El Salvador

El Salvador Legislative Assembly’s Commission for Justice and Human Rights, President Ernesto Antonio Angulo Milla
Darío Alejandro Chica Argueta, Secretary
Sandra Salgado Marlene García, Rapporteur
Audelia Guadalupe López, Member
Blanca Noemí Coto Estrada, Member
Félix Agreda Chachagua, Member
René Gustavo Escalante Zelaya, Member
Guadalupe Antonio Vázquez Martinez, Member
Institutional Technical Advisor, Institutional Technical Advisor
Women Parliamentarians Group
Por Las 17
Commission for Justice and Human Rights
Dear Members of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights,

On April 1, various women human rights defenders organizations submitted 17 pardon requests to the Legislative Assembly, for each of the 17 Salvadoran women convicted under extremely unfair circumstances. “Las 17” are women living in poverty who had non-hospital births or experienced obstetric problems at some point during the pregnancy and either did not receive or received inadequate health care. These 17 women, who sought help from public health facilities for excessive bleeding, were reported for having abortions, and were subsequently prosecuted and condemned for aggravated homicide, receiving highly disproportionate sentences ranging between 30 to 40 years in prison.

This represents a violent state action against women, who when facing serious issues related to their reproductive roles, were deprived of their right to presumption of innocence; were prosecuted, charged and convicted without adequate legal support.

As a person committed to human rights and social justice, I consider the judicial process that these women faced, in most cases, was marred by a defense characterized by deficiency and apathy. Given this violation of human rights, I support the issuance of 17 pardons submitted to El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly on April 1 2014, noting that these mistakes and state violations against the 17 Salvadoran women, unjustly imprisoned, can be repaired by granting clemency.

In this regard, we stand in solidarity with the 17 women wrongly convicted, and call on the consciences, social commitment and humanitarian sentiment of the members of the Legislative Assembly to rely on current legislation on The Special Law on Writs of Grace, the Constitution, and based on the Convention of Belém do Pará, and other national and international human rights legislation , grant a pardon to these women so they can return to their families and pursue their livelihoods.

Finally, we call for the situation to be resolved as quickly as possible, in compliance with the terms stipulated by law, and with the humanity that this case deserves.
Joanna Manganara
IAW President