Members of Congress Concerned about Salvadoran Supreme Court Interference inElections

Press Release

Contact: Alexis Stoumbelis, Executive Director of CISPES, [email protected] or (202) 521-2510 ext. 205. Available for phone interviews.

CISPES currently has an international mission in El Salvador to observe the March 4 elections. Observers are available for comment on pre-electoral context.

Members of Congress Concerned about Interference of Salvadoran Supreme Court in Elections;

Ask that US Ambassador Remain Neutral

Washington, DC: On the eve of legislative and municipal elections to be held in El Salvador on March 4, a group of leaders in the United States Congress sent a letter to the Department of State and to the United States Ambassador in El Salvador Jean Manes expressing their concerns over the stance of the Ambassador on a series of controversial rulings that the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court has made around elections issues. (Full text of the letter is available here.)

The letter emphasizes that “Since a new slate of Magistrates began their term, the Chamber has overstepped its authority in numerous ways… [making] several troubling election-related decisions that should rightfully be made by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) or the Legislative Assembly.”

In particular, the members of Congress expressed their concerns regarding the rulings which have restricted the participation of members of political parties in the electoral process, especially in the case of the Magistrates of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal: “That ruling ignores the explicit purpose of the TSE as a multi-party entity to ensure the participation of all political parties and transparency in the process,” which places at risk the integrity of the electoral process and the spirit of the Peace Accords.

The letter points to the contradiction between the opinions of judicial experts in El Salvador who have denounced a number of sentences as violating the Constitution of the Republic, and the frequent public declarations of support made by the Embassy of the United States in El Salvador, which “imply U.S. support to the Chamber and its decisions.” On the contrary, the members of Congress demand that “the State Department will remain neutral in its comments and actions regarding the electoral process, the TSE, the Constitutional Chamber, and the Supreme Court,” highlighting that “American neutrality is critical in ensuring the integrity of El Salvador’s democratic process.”

The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador supports the letter. “We have observed every election in El Salvador since the signing of the Peace Accords, and in recent years, we have celebrated the consolidation of the democratic process alongside the Salvadoran people. So it has been very concerning to observe how the electoral system has been changed by the actions of the Constitutional Chamber Magistrates, with no respect for the authority of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, and without going through any democratic process, neither with the population or through the Legislative Assembly. It's time that the United States Embassy stop supporting the Magistrates; it should instead maintain a neutral position in the face of these internal disputes”.

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