The Committee considered the initial report of El
Salvador (E/1990/5/Add.25) at its 15th, 16th and
18th meetings, held on 9 and 10 May 1996, and adopted,
at its 26th meeting, held on 17 May 1996, the following
The Committee thanks the State party for its initial
report, despite the considerable delay in its submission.
The Committee also thanks the State party for its
written replies to the list of issues, but regrets
that they were not submitted in time to be translated
and considered more carefully by members of the
Committee. The Committee also regrets that information
relating to article 15 of the Covenant was missing
from the report, as well as from the written replies
to the list of issues, in spite of specific requests
for such information. The Committee notes with satisfaction
that the report of El Salvador was drafted in consultation
with national non-governmental organizations.
The Committee points out that the lack of concrete
information, both in the written report and in the
written and oral replies provided by the delegation,
prevented the Committee from making an effective
evaluation of the actual situation as regards the
exercise of economic, social and cultural rights
by the Salvadoran population. The Committee notes
in particular the delegation's failure to provide
specific statistics on the composition of the population
and on the various economic, social and cultural
indicators. However, the Committee has taken note
of the delegation's undertaking that additional
information will be provided in response to the
various points raised by the Committee.
B. Positive aspects
The Committee notes with satisfaction that, within
the internal legal order, international human rights
instruments take precedence over national laws,
and that the 1983 Constitution contains human rights
provisions. The Committee also notes that amparo
proceedings may be instituted for the protection
of economic, social and cultural rights, although
the delegation failed to clarify whether the provisions
of the Covenant can be invoked directly before the
The Committee welcomes the ratification of 14 ILO
Conventions in 1994, including: Medical Examination
of Young Persons (Industry) (Convention No. 77),
Labour Inspection (Convention No. 81), Minimum Wage
Fixing Machinery (Agriculture) (Convention No. 99),
Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) (Convention
No. 111), Labour Inspection (Agriculture) (Convention
No. 129), Minimum Wage Fixing (Convention No. 131),
Human Resources Development (Convention No. 142)
and Tripartite Consultations (International Labour
Standards) (Convention No. 144).
The Committee notes with satisfaction the creation
in 1991 of the post of Procurator for the Defence
of Human Rights, whose important functions, particularly
the competence to conduct inspections and investigations,
file complaints or draft recommendations, are provided
for in article 194 of the Constitution. The Committee
also welcomes the creation of local units of the
office of the Procurator for the Defence of Human
Rights to ensure wider understanding of and greater
protection for human rights, including economic,
social and cultural rights.
The Committee welcomes the adoption of an economic
and social development plan for 1994-1999, the main
aims of which are to reduce poverty, improve the
quality of life of the population and increase the
access of landless peasants to the land. The Committee
also notes that the portion of the national budget
allocated to social expenditures has increased.
The establishment of a Social Investment Fund to
channel resources from donors to projects designed
mainly to help low-income groups and the implementation
of the Social Rehabilitation Plan for 78 communes
are welcomed by the Committee.
The Committee welcomes the measures taken by the
Government to reform the education system and improve
access to education. The EDUCO programme introduced
to promote the education of rural children and adults,
literacy programmes and the comprehensive child
care programme are all positive steps towards the
realization for all of the right to education.
The Committee also welcomes the creation in 1989
of the National Secretariat for the Family, the
adoption of a new Family Code, the Government's
ratification of the Inter-American Convention on
the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence
against Women in August 1995, and the establishment
of the Salvador Institute for the Development of
Women and the Salvador Institute for the Protection
of Minors. The Committee welcomes the introduction
of a telephone hotline to provide psychological
help to victims of violence and to inform them about
the social and medical help and legal assistance
available to them.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation
of the Covenant
The Committee recognizes that the high cost of rebuilding
numerous elements of infrastructure that were destroyed
during the 12 years of civil war and of the implementation
of the two Peace Agreements, in conjunction with
the region's difficult economic circumstances, hamper
the full realization of economic, social and cultural
The full implementation of economic, social and
cultural rights is further hampered by the high
cost of the reintegration of returning refugees
and displaced persons.
D. Principal subjects of concern
The Committee is deeply concerned at the high level
of poverty which is affecting most of the country's
inhabitants. The food and nutritional situation
is a major problem, reflected among other things
in a high level of infant mortality, since a very
high proportion of children are suffering from malnutrition.
Although the Committee recognizes that considerable
efforts have been made by the authorities to improve
the situation, it wishes to emphasize that the continued
existence of such a level of poverty in a country
experiencing constant economic growth is unjustifiable.
The Committee is concerned at the sluggishness with
which certain clauses of the 1992 Peace Agreement
are being implemented, including those concerning
respect for the economic, social and cultural rights
of the population, and more particularly the programme
of land redistribution.
The Committee also notes that the scope of the authority
of the Office of the Procurator for the Defence
of Human Rights is unclear, particularly as regards
follow-up by the administrative or judicial authorities
to complaints filed by his Office concerning violations
of economic, social and cultural rights brought
to his attention by individuals.
The Committee notes with concern that discrimination
against women, both at work and in the home, remains
a major problem within Salvadoran society, and while
noting that efforts have been made to change the
legislation, it emphasizes that the law still contains
discriminatory provisions, particularly in the Civil
and Penal Codes.
The Committee regrets the total lack of specific
information provided on articles 6 to 8 of the Covenant,
both in the written report and in the debate. The
Committee expresses its concern over the adverse
consequences for economic, social and cultural rights
of the way in which economic adjustment, austerity
and privatization programmes have been implemented,
especially in the short term. The Committee notes
that working conditions in the duty-free zones have
deteriorated and that difficulties have resulted
from the inadequacy of resources available to enable
the factory inspectorates to enforce legislation
on the minimum wage, equal remuneration for men
and women, industrial safety and hygiene and wrongful
The Committee regrets that article 291 of the Penal
Code still remains in force, despite the fact that
is has been deemed contrary to Convention No. 105
of the International Labour Organization by its
Committee of Experts.
Although the Committee takes note of the increase
in the minimum wage, it is concerned that the minimum
wage remains below the cost of subsistence, as acknowledged
by the delegation of El Salvador; the minimum wage
amounts to 1,050 colones in urban areas and 900
colones in rural areas, while the meeting of basic
subsistence costs amounts to 4,500 colones.
The Committee considers that the legal restrictions
on trade-union freedom and the right to strike are
far too extensive. In the view of the Committee,
the prohibition on aliens occupying positions of
responsibility within a trade union is contrary
to the Covenant. The Committee is concerned at the
numerous reports it has received of violations with
virtually total impunity in enterprises located
in duty-free zones of the rights contained in articles
7 and 8 of the Covenant.
The Committee expresses its concern at the extent
of the problem of violence against women, both within
and outside the family, in El Salvadoran society
and its implications for the physical and mental
health of women and their children.
The Committee notes with concern the apparently
chronic housing shortage, and the fact that a large
proportion of the population lives in precarious
conditions and in housing that does not correspond
to the content of the right to adequate housing
recognized in article 11 of the Covenant.
The Committee notes that, despite a number of initiatives
by the Government, effective access to education
by children of school age is unsatisfactory in El
Salvador. The Committee is particularly concerned
at the fact that the objective of universal primary
education has not yet been achieved. The high drop-out
rate, high absenteeism, failure rates and the high
rates of illiteracy as a result of exclusion from
the education system are also of concern to the
Committee. Although child labour is often necessary
for the survival of the family, it is one of the
factors hampering the implementation of articles
13 and 14 of the Covenant, and the Committee is
disturbed by the apparent lack of action by the
authorities to remedy the situation.
The Committee is concerned that it has received
no information on any programmes introduced by the
Government to guarantee the economic, social and
cultural rights of ethnic minorities in El Salvador.
The Committee notes with concern the total lack
of information on either legislation or practice
in El Salvador concerning the implementation of
cultural rights specified in article 15 of the Covenant.
The Committee notes that the technical cooperation
project submitted by the Centre for Human Rights
of the United Nations to the Government of El Salvador,
which would enable the latter to receive the assistance
necessary to implement the international human rights
conventions to which El Salvador is a party and
to develop greater familiarity with and respect
for human rights among the members of its administration,
has not yet been approved by the authorities.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
The Committee recommends that the Government address
the problem of the inequitable distribution of wealth
among the population in order to combat the poverty
that characterizes the country.
The Committee recommends that every effort be made
to ensure the prompt and full implementation of
the 1992 Peace Agreements, including the provisions
which relate to land redistribution and economic,
social and cultural rights, respect for which is,
in the Committee's opinion, a guarantee of social
peace in El Salvador.
The Committee would like the next report submitted
by El Salvador to contain specific information on
the activities of the Office of the Procurator for
the Defence of Human Rights and, in particular,
on how much weight is carried by the recommendations
it makes and on the action taken on complaints it
files with regard to violations of economic, social
and cultural rights.
The Committee urges that all necessary measures
should be taken to eradicate discrimination against
women in Salvadoran law and that programmes be set
up to eliminate inequalities between men and women.
The Committee recommends that particular attention
be paid to the problems of unemployment. It recommends
that measures be taken to ensure that as few jobs
as possible are sacrificed and that social protection
and vocational rehabilitation programmes are guaranteed
for persons who lose their jobs.
The Committee recommends that the State party make
the necessary efforts to implement the Salvadoran
legislation on minimum wages, safe and healthy working
conditions, equal pay for equal work by men and
women and arbitrary dismissals. To this end, the
Committee stresses that sufficient resources must
be allocated to labour inspection services to enable
them to carry out the tasks entrusted to them.
The Committee recommends that El Salvador take the
necessary measures to bring its legislation on trade-union
freedom, collective bargaining and the right to
strike into line with its international obligations.
The Committee recommends that the construction of
low-income housing for the poorest sectors of Salvadoran
society be intensified in urban and in rural areas
and that a greater effort be made to provide sanitation
and drinking water supplies for the entire population.
The Committee encourages the Government of El Salvador
to pursue the reforms of the education system that
it is carrying out, particularly in order to make
primary education available to all and to reduce
illiteracy. It is the Committee's opinion that measures
should be taken by the authorities to enable working
children to receive an adequate education.
The Committee would like the next report of the
State party to contain information enabling it to
evaluate the extent to which the members of indigenous
communities enjoy all the economic, social and cultural
rights provided for in the Covenant.
In view of the many gaps identified by the Committee
in the written report and the additional information
supplied by the Government and the delegation of
El Salvador, the Committee reiterates its request
to the Government to submit further information
on articles 6 to 8 and 15 of the Covenant, as well
as on any problems encountered in this regard. Such
information should be provided to the Committee
by 31 October 1996.
While welcoming the establishment of collaboration
between the authorities and non-governmental organizations,
the Committee notes that that collaboration is sporadic,
and expresses the hope that it will become general,
particularly with regard to drafting reports for
the various international human rights treaty bodies,
including this Committee, and publicizing the activities
of the Procurator for the Defence of Human Rights.
The Committee expresses the hope that the State
party will consider the possibility of ratifying
the Additional Protocol the American Convention
on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social
and Cultural Rights (Protocol of San Salvador).
The Committee recommends that the proposal of the
Centre for Human Rights concerning technical cooperation
be given favourable consideration by the Salvadoran
authorities and that such assistance be used to
guarantee the enjoyment of economic, social and
cultural rights by all.