El Salvador

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Persistent violations
  • The exploitative situation of girls working in domestic service [1]
  • Exploitative child labour [2]
  • The high rate of school drop-out[3]
  • Inadequate sexual and reproductive health services [4]
  • Prevalence of trafficking in children [5]
  • Low minimum age of marriage [6]
  • Femicide [7]
  • Violence against women and girls [8]
  • Sexual abuse [9]
  • Enforced disappearance and the State's failure to provide full redress to the child victims of enforced or involuntary disappearances during the armed conflict between 1980 and 1992 and their families [10]
  • Corporal punishment in all settings [11]
  • The situation of children involved with groups known as "maras" (gangs), particularly police brutality [12]
  • Discrimination against indigenous children [13]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, including its causes and consequences
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Universal Periodic Review, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
  3. UN Human Rights Committee, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  5. UN Committee against Torture, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Committee on Migrant Workers, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, including its causes and consequences, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  7. UN Committee against Torture, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, including its causes and consequences
  8. UN Committee against Torture, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, including its causes and consequences, Universal Periodic Review
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Universal Periodic Review
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee against Torture, Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Inter-American Court of Human Rights
  11. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  12. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Rapporteur on Children's Rights at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
  13. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Universal Periodic Review, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights




Introduction

The smallest country in continental America, El Salvador borders Guatemala, Honduras and the Pacific Ocean. Since the end of its 12-year civil war in 1992, relative political stability has been restored. In addition to the human rights legacy of the civil war, El Salvador continues to suffer a high rate of violence and insecurity, along with concerns about the Government's treatment of young people involved in criminal gangs.

Geography

El Salvador is located on the Pacific coast, and is bordered by Guatemala and Honduras to the north west and north east respectively. Lying on the Gulf of Fonseca, it is the smallest country in Central America.

Population and Language

There is a lack of census data between 1992 and 2007, but UN statistics from 2008 estimated that the population of El Salvador was approximately 6,134,000[1]. Salvadorans are largely of a mixed ethnic background, with 90 per cent of the population having both European and Native American ancestry, while nine per cent of the population is of white European descent. The remaining one per cent is Amerindian[2].

Central American Spanish is the official language of El Salvador, and is spoken by virtually all inhabitants. There are a number of other minority languages spoken, however, including German, Dutch, French and English, as well as Q'eqchi', the language of many indigenous peoples originating from Belize and Guatemala.

History and Politics

El Salvador emerged from a 12-year civil war in 1992, bringing relative political stability to a country that had suffered from violent struggles between the government and five guerrilla groups. El Salvador is a presidential representative democratic republic, with the president, currently Mauricio Funes, as the head of state and government. The legislature takes the form of a unicameral Legislative Assembly, consisting of 84 members of congress who must stand for election every three years. The political sphere, meanwhile, is occupied by a number of political parties, the largest of which are Alianza Republicana Nacionalista, Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional, Gran Alianza por la Unidad Nacional, Partido de Conciliación Nacional, and Partido Demócrata Cristiano.

Economy

Despite its size, El Salvador has the third largest economy in Central America. In 2001, the State introduced the US Dollar as currency alongside the Salvadoran colón, and completely relinquished control of monetary policy in 2004 when the colón was rescinded, leaving the dollar as the national currency. The 2008 global recession hit the Salvadoran economy hard, causing a contraction of GDP by 1-1.5 per cent in 2009[3]. The following year saw the start of a slow recovery, however, on the back of improved exports[4] and remittances[5].

The main exports include textiles and apparel, coffee and sugar. However, the country's economy, and the agricultural sector in particular, was hit hard by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and again by a series of earthquakes and aftershocks in 2001.

El Salvador is a member of a number of local free-trade agreements, including the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and has similar treaties with Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Panama.

Media and Civil Society

NGOs have reported a notable improvement in their cooperation with the State since the election of the first FMLN president, Mauricio Funes, a former journalist, in 2009. NGOs, many of which emerged out of the leftist FMLN themselves, report that the government has shown a 'willingness to listen to NGOs for the first time'[6]. The government has instituted a number of mechanisms, such as weekly meetings with civil society organisations to facilitate cooperation. One example of cooperation between the government and civil society can be found on the issue of child trafficking and abuse. The Working Party against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents was set up by means of a Citizens' Charter between government and non-governmental institutions, while civil society pressure has been instrumental in securing the passage of a freedom of information act[7]

El Salvador came 51 out of 178 in Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2010. The press freedom agency reports that covering certain subjects carries high risks for journalists in El Salvador. One example mentioned is the dangers associated with reporting on environmental risks and the rights of indigenous peoples opposing mining operations[8].

Human Rights and Children's rights

El Salvador has a very high level of criminality, violence and insecurity. World Health Organisation (WHO) figures from 2009 identified the nation's violent death rate as the seventh highest in the world[9]. A particular problem for the region is in relation to youth gangs (“maras”), which not only lead to a high rate of violent deaths among young people as a result of their activities, but also as a result of the response of law enforcement agencies. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has been highly critical of the government's response to the maras, highlighting instances of torture and the inhumane treatment of children suspected of involvement in gangs, as well as the repressive treatment of gang culture as an exclusively penal issue. The enforced disappearance of children in El Salvador's recent history has also been raised in a number of hearings of the Inter-American Commission.

Footnotes:
  1. UN DESA (2009d). “World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision” New York Department for Economic and Social Affairs
  2. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Country Profiles: El Salvador
  3. World Bank Country Brief: El Salvador
  4. Central America Link, “El Salvador's exports go back to the future in early months of this year”
  5. Latin Daily Financial News, “El Salvador: Remittances Show 2.1% Growth from January to October”
  6. Working Papers in International StudiesCentre for International Studies, Dublin City University, Barry Cannon and Mo Hume (2010), "Attitudes to and visions of civil society/staterelations in Central America: implications for sustainable development"
  7. Freedominfo.org El Salvador Joins the List of FOI Countries
  8. Reporters Without Borders, "Mining company urged to condemn death squad threats against community radio journalists", 5 May 2011
  9. WHO Statistics 2009

Sources:


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