El Salvador: Demand Salvadoran Authorities To Stop Aggressions Against Gay And Lesbian Human Rights Defenders

Once again the Entre Amigos office was attacked and shortly thereafter, Executive Director of the Association, William Hernandez was threatened. The attacks against the organization and its members have come before the Salvadoran Constitution reform. Legislative Assembly is currently evaluating whether or not to deny same sex couples their rights to marriage and adoption.

Faced with the indifference of National Civilian Police and the Republic General Office, Mr. Hernández contacted the Victims and Witness Division Inspector to report his encounter.

IGLHRC joins Entre Amigos in its request for letters to the Salvadoran authorities demanding protection for the organization and its members.

ACTION

Please find a sample letter below.

Please write to:

Ing. Rodrigo Ávila
General director of the National Civilian Police (PNC)
Telephones:
(503) 2254-8710
(503) 2289-1200
(503) 2254-8800
E-mail: gacosta@pnc.gob.sv
Lic. Francisco Esteban Lainez
Minister of Foreign Affaires
Telephones:
(503) 2243-9716
(503) 2243-9715
(503) 2243-9658 fax
E-mail: erodriguez@rree.gob.sv
Mr. René Figueroa
Secretary of Government
Telephones:
(503) 2221-6574
(503) 2233-7000
(503) 2281-5959 fax
E-mail: marina.orellana@gobernación.gob.sv
Dra. Beatrice Alamanni de Carrillo
Human rights Defense Procurator
Address9ª Av. Norte y 5º Calle PTE. Edificio AMSA Nº 535 San Salvador, EL Salvador
Telephones
(503) 2271-6102
(503) 2222-0826
(503) 2222-0922
E-mail: soniaguandique@ddh.gob.sv

Please send a copy to:

Mr. William Hernández
Executive director
Entre Amigos Association
Telephones:
(503) 2257-4932
(503) 2257-4931
(503) 2257-4930 fax
E-mail: entreamigos@integra.com.sv
Marcelo Ernesto Ferreyra
IGLHRC
E-mail: mfferreyra@iglhrc.org

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Sir or Madam:

We are deeply concerned at reports that the Entre Amigos offices, El Salvador’s gay lesbian, bisexual and transgender organization and its Executive Director, Mr. William Hernández, remain subject to harassment and attacks. We urge you immediately to extend to Entre Amigos the full protection of your police, as required by law.

On May 30, 2006 the offices of the Association Entre Amigos were broken into, the desks had been revised, and all its content were thrown in the floor. On June 1st Mr. William Hernández, Executive Director of the organization, was threatened when he left the Association offices. The attacker urged him to suspend the activities that the organization planned to carry out this month in the Assembly and, according to Mr. Hernández, he added: "you stop to make nonsense in the street…, I already checked inside of your office and I didn't find anything,… before you marry I KILL YOU."

We are concerned that these are not ordinary attacks motivated by gain, but a systematic intent of interfering with Entre Amigos free work and activities.

We continue to remain concerned for the safety of William Hernández, Executive Director of Entre Amigos, and for the safety of its staff and volunteers. A pattern of violent and often murderous attacks directed at gay, lesbian and transgender people has continued in El Salvador for many years. We strongly urge you to act quickly this time, in investigating these latest crimes - as well as all the other outstanding cases of violence and harassment directed at gay, lesbian and transgender people - and extending full time police protection to the offices and staff of Entre Amigos, to ensure that these crimes cannot recur.

Sincerely,

(Name, organization and address)

BACKGROUND

The recent history of LGBT movement in El Salvador is a disturbing story of violent - often murderous - attacks to transgender people and gay men, coupled with threats and harassment directed to activists who attempt to defend them. The incidents have many antecedents that include:

  • December 6 1998. The entrance of "Entre Amigos" offices were forced by strangers that were after the group confidential records.
  • March 7 1999. William Hernández, the group’s Executive Director, received a death threat on the day of El Salvador’s presidential election.
  • June 26, 1999. A person who later identified himself as a member of the special Presidential Battalion used his weapon to threaten a transgender person who was participating in Lesbian and Gay Pride Day celebrations in the Constitution Plaza in San Salvador.
  • June 29, 1999. Unknown individuals shot and injured a gay man as he was leaving the "Entre Amigos" offices in the company of Mr. Hernandez.
  • April 3, 2000. Juan Carlos Cortés Peña, a sex worker who is also a member of Entre Amigos, was attacked by police officers while at work
  • November 19, 2000. Walter Sanchez, a transvestite who was also a member of Entre Amigos, was shot to death in the street by unidentified men firing from a passing car.
  • October 27, 2000: As the Administrative Director of Entre Amigos emerged from a bank, she was intercepted by two men on a motorcycle, who robbed her of her documents and of money meant for the organization's salary payments.
  • October 29, 2000. The organization's premises were broken into in the early hours of the morning. A fax machine was stolen.
  • December 3, 2000. Entre Amigos offices were broken into early in the morning. An alarm system had recently been installed: its cables were cut by the intruders. The offices were searched thoroughly: pictures, clothes, membership lists and a box containing bills and petty cash were stolen.

This sequence of attacks has arisen before the Salvadoran Constitution reform. Legislative Assembly is evaluating to deny same sex couples their marriage right and to prohibit homosexual people to adopt children.

May 30 2006 the offices of the Association Entre Amigos were broken into. The desks had been revised, and all its content was thrown in the floor.

Activists suspect that the attacks were not motivated by gain, but by an intent to interfere with Entre Amigos free work picking up information on the activities planned for the Gay Pride month, and perhaps even with the intention of sabotaging them.

After that incident June 1 Mr. William Hernández, Executive Director of the Association was threatened when he left the organization office. On an official statement before the Victims and Witness Division Chief Inspector, Mr. Hernandez summarizes the incident details: Out of the office, "A man brought behind me with a firearm, seemingly 9mm and placed it right on my neck, saying "you don't turn to see" and subsequently it urged him to suspend the activities that the organization planned to carry out this month in the Assembly and he added: : "you stop to make nonsense in the street…, I already checked inside of your office and I didn't find anything,… before you marry I KILL YOU."

According to William, neither the National Civilian Police nor the Republic General Office have shown interest in their denounce. For that reason he have got in contact with the Victims and Witness Division Inspector.

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Right to life (and to liberty and security of person) is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in its Article 3; by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in its Articles 6 and 9, by the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights (IAHRC) in its Articles 4 and 7.

Rights of Human Rights Defenders: The UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (G.A. res.53/144, U.N. Doc. U.N. Doc. A/RES/53/144 - 1999) affirms: "Everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be effectively protected under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States which result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms" (Article 12.2). And it adds that, "In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms" (Article 12.3).

El Salvador ratified ICCPR on November 30 1979, and the IAHRC on June 23 1978. The UDHR is considered part of customary international law, and binding on all member States of the United Nations, like El Salvador.

ABOUT IGLHRC

IGLHRC
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
80 Maiden Lane, Suite 1505
New York, NY 10038
phone: 212.268.8040
fax: 212.430.6060
email: iglhrc@iglhrc.org
www.iglhrc.org

CONTRIBUTIONS:

Participation in the Emergency Response Network is free, but contributions are greatly appreciated and needed. Contributions are tax-deductible in the United States. Contributions can be made on your Visa or Mastercard (just include the amount, your account number, and expiration date). Alternatively, contributions can be sent by check via regular mail to the address above