Press Release

IACHR Grants Precautionary Measure to Family Displaced by Gang Violence in El Salvador

December 18, 2017

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted a precautionary measure to protect the life and personal integrity of a Salvadoran family that had been forced into displacement, according to the applicants, because of a gang’s violence against the family and out of fear of potential reprisals due to criminal complaints the family had filed.

Having analyzed the allegations of fact and law presented, and considering the specific context in which the alleged events took place, the Commission found, prima facie, that the members of the family are in a serious and urgent situation, as their rights to life and personal integrity are at risk. In making this determination, the Commission noted that the family had reportedly been victims of displacement due to violence carried out by the “Pandilla 18” gang ever since the filing of complaints regarding the alleged killing of members of the family group. Because of their fear, the family members had reportedly left their usual residence and had sought protection in various shelters to prevent an attempt on their lives. According to the application for precautionary measures, the family does not have effective measures of protection from the State. Also, in terms of context, the Commission noted that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, at the end of a visit she made to El Salvador in August 2017, had said, among other things, that “the phenomenon of internal displacement caused by generalized and gang-related violence is a significant and largely un-recognized crisis in El Salvador, affecting thousands of individuals, families and whole communities.”

Consequently, the IACHR asked the State of El Salvador to adopt the necessary measures to protect the life and integrity of the family group; reach agreement on the measures to be adopted with the beneficiaries and their representatives; and report on the actions taken to investigate the allegations that led to the adoption of this precautionary measures, so as to avoid a recurrence.

The granting of the precautionary measure and its adoption by the State do not constitute a prejudging of any eventual petition that may come before the inter-American system alleging violations of rights protected in the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the respect for and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 210/17