American Association of Jurists Condemns Illegal Detention of Former FMLN government officials

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Photo of Violeta Menjivar, former Minister of Health, giving a press conference

The El Salvador chapter of the American Association of Jurists issued the following statement in response to the arbitrary detention of five former FMLN government officials. Read the original here in Spanish.

Regarding the actions against former government officials on this past Thursday, July 22, we express to the Salvadoran people and the international community:

1. We condemn the arbitrary detention of former government officials Dr. Violeta Menjívar, Dr. Erlinda Handal, Carlos Cáceres, Calixto Mejía, andHugo Flores, who were not informed of the motive of their arrest and whose access to legal assistance was obstructed.

2. Our constitution and penal code establish the presumption of innocence for all citizens and residents of the republic, regardless of the accusations against them, until guilt is proven in a corresponding trial and in accordance with the law; this has been completely ignored. All proceedings should be subject to the rules of just and due process.

3. We condemn the regime’s attitude and aim to politically persecute its opponents, criminalizing actions that do not constitute a crime, seeking to forcibly distort criminal statutes to apply to non-criminal actions attributed to the opposition.

4. For these reasons, the arrest warrants being issued for former officials Salvador Sánchez Cerén, Gerson Martínez, Lina Pohl, Manuel Melgar, and José Guillermo López Suárez is a very troubling action, without legal grounds, and corresponds to the irresponsible and arbitrary conduct of the current regime in El Salvador. These actions violate the principles of constitutionality and legality and, therefore, such anomalous proceedings are, legally, absolutely baseless.

5. Every day, the violation of the Constitutional rule of law in El Salvador is more evident,  resulting from the complete control held by the President of the Republic over all State entities, including the Attorney General.

6. The Supreme Court, in total service of the President and whose magistrates have been imposed by the Legislative Assembly as ordered by the President, is pressuring the judges presiding over these cases at different levels of the judicial system to issue biased rulings that concur with the political goals of the regime of President Nayib Bukele, thus violating judicial independence.

THEREFORE, WE DEMAND:

I. The immediate release of the aforementioned former government officials, unjustly and arbitrarily arrested on July 22. Their detention is illegal, as the charges against them, according to the law and the Constitution, do not constitute any crime.

II. The immediate cessation of political persecution against other former government officials against whom arrest warrants have been issued without legal grounds. 

III. Total respect for the moral integrity and the human, civil, and political rights of those detained and persecuted.

IV. That the stipulations of the Comprehensive Special Law for a Life Free of Violence against Women be respected for the former officials subject to detention and persecution who are women.

V. That the laws protecting older adults and the rights of patients be respected for former government officials targeted by detention and political persecution of advanced age and with short-term and chronic health conditions be respected. 

WE REQUEST AND APPRECIATE THE SOLIDARITY OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS IN ORDER TO RESTORE THE CONSTITUTIONAL RULE OF LAW AND ITS INSTITUTIONS IN EL SALVADOR.

Translation by CISPES

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