University of Minnesota

Report on the Situation of Human Rights in El Salvador, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.46, Doc. 23 rev. 1 (1978).





A. The Organization of American States and its form of government

1. The present Constitution of the Republic of El Salvador was enacted on January 8, 1962, by a constituent assembly and entered into force eight days after its publication in the Diario Official (Art. 229).

2. The Constitution states that El Salvador is a sovereign State and that sovereignty resides in the people and is limited to what is honest, just and advantageous to society (Art. 1). The government is republican, democratic and representative (Art. 3).

3. The Government is composed of three branches: Legislative, Executive and Judicial, which act independently within the scope of their powers and duties, which cannot be delegated, but collaborate in the exercise of public functions (Art. 4). The right of the people to insurrection in order to remove, insofar as necessary, officials of the executive branch is recognized. (Art. 7).

4. The legislative power is vested in a legislative Assembly (Art. 36), composed of members elected every two years (Art. 49).

5. The executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic and the ministers and under-secretaries of state. The President is elected every five years by a direct, equal and secret popular vote (Arts. 29, 31 and 6). It is the function of the President to appoint and remove the ministers and under-secretaries of state (Art. 72). The President must also preserve peace and domestic tranquility and security of the individual as a member of society (Art. 78, No. 2) and to assure that the Armed Forces maintain order, security and tranquility in the Republic (Art. 78 No. 14). The President is the Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces (Art. 70) and as such he is responsible for organizing and maintaining the Armed Forces and the public security corps and for conferring military ranks in accordance with laws (Art. 78 No. 10). He is also empowered to appoint, remove, accept resignations of, and grant leave to officials and employees of the administration and of the Army (Art. 78, No. 9). The executive branch also has powers related to the suspension and reestablishment of constitutional guaranties, which will be analyzed later in this report.

6. The judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court of Justice, the chambers of second instance and other tribunals to be established by statute. This branch has the authority to pass judgment in constitutional, civil, penal, commercial and labor matters, and in any other prescribed by law (Art. 81). The judges of the Supreme, appellate and lower courts are elected for a term of three years (Art. 47 No. 8, and Art. 91). If a magistrate or judge merits election to a third successive term, he is considered a magistrate or judge for life, and may not be removed, suspended or transferred, except for legal reasons (Art. 91). The Supreme Court is composed of ten judges, and its Chief justice heads the Judicial Branch (Art. 82). The Supreme Court is competent to hear cases of amparo and appeals in cassation (Art. 89 No. 1); to see that justice is promptly and faithfully administered and that members of the Court visit other courts and prisons in order to prevent irregularities (Art. 89 No. 7), and to declare the unconstitutionality of laws, decrees and regulations, either because of form or content, in a general and compulsory manner, which it may do on the petition of any citizen (Art. 96).

7. The Constitution provides that it is the obligation of the State to ensure to the inhabitants of the Republic the enjoyment of liberty, health, culture, economic well being and social justice (Art. 2).

B. System of individual and social rights

8. Titles X and XI of the Constitution define the individual and social rights and govern the means to guarantee them. The former include the following: all men are equal before the law and that, in the enjoyment of civil rights, no restriction shall be enacted bases on differences of nationality, race, sex or religion (Art. 150);

- Every man in the Republic is free and slavery or any other condition that impairs human dignity is prohibited (Art. 151);

- Every person has the right to enter, remain in, and leave the territory of the Republic, subject to such limitations as the law may establish (Art. 154);

- The free exercise of all religions, without other restriction than that required by morals or the public order, is guaranteed; however, neither clergy nor laymen may engage in political propaganda of any kind based on religious motives or make use of the religious beliefs of the people (Art. 157);

- Freedom of expression and thought; but propaganda advocating anarchistic or antidemocratic doctrines is prohibited (Art. 158);

- Correspondence of any kind is inviolable (Art. 159);

- The right to assemble and meet peacefully; but the establishment of convents and any form of monastic institution is prohibited (Art. 160);

- The right to present written petitions to the authorities (Art. 162);

- The right to protection in the preservation and defense of life, honor, liberty, labor, property and possessions (Art. 163);

- The right to justice and due process of law (Arts. 165 through 171);

- The right to life, liberty and habeas corpus (Arts. 164 and 168);

- Laws may not have retroactive effect except in matters of public order and in penal matters if the new law is favorable to the offender (Art. 172);

- The right to dispose of property freely (Art. 173) and freedom to enter into contracts (Art. 174)

- The social rights of the inhabitants of the Republic include the following:

- The family, as the fundamental basis of society, has the special protection of the State, as does the physical, mental and moral health of minors, the right of minors to education and assistance. (Art. 179);

- Children born in or out of wedlock and adopted children have equal rights with respect to education, assistance, and parental care (Art. 180);

- Labor is a social function; it enjoys the protection of the State and is not regarded as an article of commerce (Art. 181);

- Living conditions, work and social security of workers are governed by the Labor Code (art 182 through 195);

- The preservation promotion and dissemination of culture is an obligation and primary aim of the State (Art. 196). Education must be directed towards, among other objectives, inculcating a respect for the rights and duties of man (Arts. 197 through 203). The University of El Salvador is autonomous in its teaching, administrative, and financial aspects (Art. 204) [1]/;

- The health of the inhabitants of the Republic constitutes a public good and as such must be protected by the State and by individuals (Art. 205). The State gives free assistance to indigents who are ill (Art. 206). A Superior Council of public health oversees the health of the people (Art. 208).

C. Means to protect the rights upheld in the Constitution

10. The Constitution of El Salvador assigns specifically to the Supreme Court of Justice, and in some cases to the appellate court responsibility for protecting the constitutional rights of the inhabitants of the Republic. Every person has the right of habeas corpus whenever any authority or individual illegally impairs his freedom (Art. 164). Any person may seek protection before the Supreme Court on account of the violation of rights granted by the Constitution (Art. 221).

11. The Law on Constitutional Procedures governs the exercise of these rights. This law also regulates two distinct processes with regard to constitutional matters: 1) the unconstitutionality of laws, decrees and regulations; and 2) presentation of the individual. Every citizen has the right to request that a law, decree or regulation be declared unconstitutional. The request must be addressed to the Supreme Court, whose Sala de Amparo processes the appeal; the full Court must decide on the matter (Art. 2)

12. A writ of Amparo is filed against any type of action or omission on the part of any state authority, state employee or decentralized agency of the state that violates or impedes the exercise of the rights granted to every individual under the Constitution, so long as the action does not involve illegal arrest or restriction of personal freedom, which are governed by another procedure (Art. 12). The processing provided for in the law is brief and makes provisions for the intervention of the Public Ministry to defend the constitutionally (Art. 17). If the court admits the writ, it orders that the authority in question return things to the state in which they were before the act in question. In certain cases the court may rule on the damages and injury received. (Art. 35)

13. The remedy of habeas corpus is governed under Title IV of the Law on Constitutional Procedures and protects individuals in prison or being held in custody and those under restraint. The law states that an individual is in prison when he has been detained against his will within certain limits, either through treat, fear of injury, physical force or by some other material obstacle. Further, when an individual has another person in his custody, although the latter is not confined within certain territorial limits either by force or threat, the former directs the latter’s movement and forces him, against his will, to go or remain were so ever he may dispose. (Art. 38). When the individual is not being held in detention within certain limits, but the intention is to exercise authority over that entire individual is being held under restraint by the individual exercising that power (Art. 39).

In cases where there is imprisonment, confinement, custody or restriction not authorized under the law, or where such are exercised in a manner or to a degree not authorized under the law, the injured party has a right to be protected by a writ of habeas corpus (Art. 40). Personal appearance may also be decreed officially by the court if it is found that someone is being illegally deprived of this freedom (Art. 42). The court orders a writ of habeas corpus, but its execution is entrusted to a third party, the “executor”, a trustee of the court (Art. 43). Within 5 days, the executor must decide upon the immediate release of the detainee (Articles 48, 49, 51, 53 and 57), uphold the arrest (Articles 52, 55 and 56) order that the restraint be lifted (Article 58) or, when refused by the offending party, return the writ of habeas corpus to the court, with a report on the matter (Article 61). Should the last of these possibilities occur, the court that hears the writ request from the Executive power the aid of the public forces to assist the executor to carry out his functions (Article 61). Once the writ of habeas corpus has been returned by the executor, the court must decide on the matter within a period of 5 days, unless it considers it necessary to request additional background information or open a special probatory period (Article 77). If the court or chamber decide to release the injured party, it immediately issues an order to the judge of the case or to the authority that has the individual under custody to carry out the ruling (Article 72). If the detention or restriction is illegal, the Court orders that criminal proceeding be initiated against those responsible for the violation (Article 76).

D. Restrictions or limitations on individual guaranties

14. The Constitution of El Salvador regulates in detail the suspension or limitation in emergency situations, of those standards that protect individual rights and guaranties. In the event of war, invasion, rebellion, sedition, catastrophe, epidemic, or other general disaster, or serious disturbances in the public order, the guaranties established in Articles 154 158 paragraph 1, 159, 160 of the Constitution may be suspended, except for meetings or assemblies for cultural or industrial purposes. Such suspension may be put into effect in the whole or a part of the territory of the Republic and may be accomplished by decree of the Legislative or Executive Branch, as appropriate.

The period of suspension of constitutional guaranties may not exceed thirty days. When this period has elapsed the suspension may be prolonged for a like period by a new decree if the circumstances that caused it continue. If such new decree is not issued, the suspended guaranties are legally reestablished (Article 175). When a suspension shall have jurisdiction in trying cases of treason, espionage, rebellion, sedition and other offenses against the peace or independence of the State or against the Law of Nations (Article 177). Whenever the circumstances that gave rise to the suspension of constitutional guaranties no longer exist, the legislative Assembly must reestablish such guaranties; but if it has adjourned, the Executive power shall order said reestablishment (Article 178). The authority called upon to decree the suspension of guaranties is the National Assembly (Articles 47 paragraph 27 and 176 of the constitution); but if the National Assembly is in recess, the Executive power, on the advise of the Council of Ministers, may decree the suspension of guaranties provisionally. Such a decree shall include, by implication, the convocation of the National Assembly within the next 47 hours to approve or disapprove the decree (Article 78 paragraph 17 and Article 176).

According to the Code of Military Justice (CJM), the Special courts-martial hear this type of case (Article 192). Proceedings before Special Courts martial are summary and the decisions may be appealed “In the last instance” to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (Article 193 and 316); however, the Constitution provides special tribunal and procedures for trying military offenses. (Article 116).

15. In El Salvador, the last suspension of guaranties was in effect throughout the entire country form February 28 through June 27, 1977, at the initiative of the President of the Republic, approved by the Legislative Assembly (Decree No. 200, February 28, 1977). This decree was extended three times in succession.

16. One limitation on the autonomy of the University of El Salvador, provided for in Article 204 of the Constitution and governed by the Organic Law of the University (Decree No. 138, October 5, 1972), is a result of the enforcement of Decree No. 247 of March 31, 1977, which provides the following:

Article 1. A provisional Administrative Council of the University of El Salvador is hereby established which shall be referred to herein as “The Council.” It shall assume temporarily the powers and duties which, in accordance with the Organic Law of the University of El Salvador, contained in Legislative Decree No. 193, Volume 237 of October 18 of that year, correspond to the University general Assembly, the University High Council and the Executive Boards of the Schools of the University; hence, said bodies are declared to be in recess.

Article 2. The Council shall be composed as follows:

a. The Rector of the University or his representative;

b. The Chairman of the Executive Board of the University General Assembly;

c. The Deans of the Schools of the University;

d. The Comptroller of the University;

e. The Secretary General of the University;

The individuals holding the post listed in the preceding paragraph shall continue to perform their functions until, in accordance with the provisions of this decree, the replacements take charge of their posts, which then shall immediately become members of this Council.

Article 17. During the first week of April of next year, the Deans shall notify the sectors concerned of the opportunity to elect members to the Executive Boards of the Schools, to the University High Council and to the University General Assembly, and said sectors shall advise the Council of the results of the elections no later than May 5 of that year.

Article 18. When the Assembly has been installed, it shall proceed immediately to elect the rector of the university, the Vice rector, the dean and assistant deans of the respective schools, the comptroller and the external auditor, who are to take over their post no later than June 20.

Article 10. Within five days of having assumed office, the Rector shall proceed to install the University High Council, in accordance with the provisions of the Internal Regulations of that body. Within five days of having taken office, the deans shall install their respective Executive Boards.

17. The reasons for this temporary limitation are explained in the preamble to Decree No. 247:


I. The situation in the University of El Salvador in recent months, characterized by a climate of unrest and violence, has made it impossible for the collegiate governing bodies to function normally, especially the University general Assembly, the University High Council and the Executive Boards of the Schools of the University, and made ineffectual the mechanism established in the law to allow them to carry out their lofty purposes.

II. The irregularity, in addition to affecting the course of activities at the University, is seriously prejudicial to students, parents, and the general interest of the country, making it necessary to adopt urgent and temporary measures that will help to overcome the problem now facing our highest center of learning.

III. It is imperative that the university be restored to normal operations, which necessitates the establishment of a special body to assume temporarily responsibility for governing the university until the situation stabilizes.

18. With regard to the provisions of Articles 17, 18 and 19 concerning the administrative council of the University of El Salvador, on June 22, 1978 the Special Committee received a note from the Government, which stated the following:

B) Agronomist Salvador Enrique Jovel Vigil was elected Rector of the University of El Salvador on May 6, 1978, and took office that same day. It was discovered that the election was conducted by the provisional Administrative council and not by the University General assembly as established by Article 17, 18 and 19 of Legislative Decree no. 247 of march 31, 1977.

E. Law of Defense and Guaranty of Public Order [2]/

19. The Legislative Assembly, on the initiative of the President of the Republic and having heard the opinion of the Supreme Court of Justice, adopted Decree No. 407, of November 25, 1977, giving the following justification for it:


I. It is a fundamental duty of the State to establish the provisions necessary to guarantee maintenance of a republican, democratic, and representative system of government, in accordance with the provisions of Article 3 of the Constitution.

II. Article 158, paragraph 2, of the Constitution prohibits propaganda advocating anarchistic or antidemocratic doctrines, and confronted with the serious situation created by terrorist acts and events instigated by international subversion, the Government of the Republic must have the legal instruments that will ensure the exercise of individual rights and the freedom of the members of the community, thereby satisfying the just demands of morality, public order, and the general welfare of society, fully respecting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved and proclaimed by the United nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948.”

20. Because of the consequences that the application of the law of Defense and Guaranty of Public Order can have in relationship to the enjoyment of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, the entire text of that law is presented below:


“Article 1. Totalitarian doctrines are contrary to the democratic system established by the constitution and those who commit the following acts in order to instill and support such doctrines commit an offense against the constitutional public order:

1- Those who commit rebellion or sedition, or in general rise up against the legally-constituted government:

2- Those who by the spoken or written word, or by any other means, induce one or more members of the Armed Force violated discipline or to disobey their superiors or the constituted Powers of the Government of the Republic;

3- Those who without legal authorization import, manufacture, transport, distribute, sell, or stockpile clandestinely arms, projectiles, munitions, explosives, asphyxiating, poisonous, or tear gases or any other form of chemical or bacteriological weapon; and the apparatus to use them, or material to be used for their manufacture;

4- Those who incite, provoke, or encourage rebellion or sedition;

5- Those who conspire against or in any way attack the constitutional system and the domestic peace of the state;

6- Those who hold, arrange or make possible meetings whose objective is to depose the legitimately constituted government;

7- Those who propagate, encourage, or use their personal status or circumstances, either by the spoken or written work or by any other means, doctrines aimed at destroying the social order, or the political and juridical organization that the Constitution establishes;

8- Those connected with foreign individuals or organizations for the purpose of receiving instructions and assistance of any kind in order to commit any of the offenses provided for in this law;

9- Those who provide resources or means of any find to individuals or organizations, by the national or foreign, to commit in El Salvador any of the offenses referred to in this law;

10- Those who, as public officials or employees, fail, either through omission or negligence, to comply with the laws, regulations, decrees, or orders issued by higher authorities under grave and special circumstances;

11- Those who plan, or commit sabotage, destruction, stoppage or any other action or omission whose purpose is to alter the normal progress of the productive activities of the country, in order to prejudice the national economy or disrupt a public service or services essential to the community;

12- Those who destroy, render useless, or disrupt installations of public services or of services essential to the community to incite others to commit the same;

13- Those who meet or consor6 in order to prepare or commit any of the offenses provided for in this law;

14- Those who take part in any organization that espouses anarchistic or anti-democratic doctrines, or those who enroll as members in them;

15- Those who propagate by the spoken or written word, or by any other means within the country, or send abroad, tendentious of false news or information designed to disrupt the constitutional or legal order, the tranquility or security of the country, the economic or monetary system, or the stability of public values and property; those who publish such news and information in the mass communication media; and those citizens of El Salvador who, while abroad, disseminate news and information of that kind;

16- Those who under any name knowingly provide property or premises for meetings whose purpose is to commit or plan acts against the public peace, the domestic security of the state, or the legally established system.

17- Those who assault the heads of the branches of state, deputies, and other officials referred to in Article 211 of the Constitution;

18- Those who commit: murder; kidnapping; treason; spying for a foreign state; terrorism; group violation or unlawful entry of the offices of a public official; armed robbery against public credit institutions or institutions that operate with public monies; arson; and bombings or other simple or aggravated disruptive acts.

To determine whether these crimes have been committed in order to implant or support total totalitarian doctrines, the following factors shall be taken into account:

a. The character of the persons, by the actively or passively involved, whether they be public officials, military personnel on active duty, members of the security corps, or business men;

b. The number or status of the participants;

c. The fact of having claimed to have participated in the crime, through any means of communication;

d. The unequivocal and expressed public demonstrations of the connection of the event to the objective of such doctrines, consisting of manifestos, phrases, words, letters, signs, or acronyms of the names of clandestine groups, and figures or emblems of all other kinds that may appear before, at the same time as, or subsequent to perpetration of the crime.

Art. 2. Those who commit any of the offenses listed under sections 1, 2, and 3 of Article 1 of this Law shall be sentences to three to seven years’ imprisonment.

Art. 3. Those who commit any of the offenses listed under sections 4,5,6,7,8,9,10, 11, 12 and 13 of Article 1 of this Law shall be sentenced to two to five years imprisonment.

Art. 4. Those who commit any of the offenses listed under sections 14 through 16 inclusive shall be sentenced to one to three years imprisonment; those who commit the offense listed under section 17 of Article 1 of this law shall be sentenced to three to nine years imprisonment.

Art. 5. Those who commit the crimes of murder, kidnapping, treason, spying for a foreign state, terrorism, armed robbery of the institutions mentioned under section 18 of Article 1, arson, and bombing shall be sentenced to the terms established in the criminal Code.

Group violating or unlawful entry of the offices of a public official shall be punishable by three to seven years’ imprisonment.

Art. 6. The penalty shall be determined within the minimum and maximum limits established by this law. In applying the penalties, the sentencing court shall take into account the attendant circumstances of the crime; the damage, injury and other effects caused or intended to caused; the degree of danger in the commission of the crime; the condition, sex and age of the victim and, in general, any other circumstances that by its nature should in the court-s opinion, be taken into account. The court shall proceed to a prudent decision and the provisions contained in Articles 68, 69 and 70 of the Criminal Code shall not apply.

Anyone found guilty of committing an offense referred to in this law may not be released from jail prior to completion of his sentence.

Article 7. When any of the offenses provided for in this Law appears in another law carrying a longer sentence, the court shall be obligated to apply the longer sentence.

Article 8. The provisions of the Criminal Code shall apply to all situations not covered by this Law.

TITLE II – Competence

Article 9. The First and Second Chambers of Second Instance in Criminal matters of the First Section of the Center shall have competence in first instance over the offenses covered by this Law.

The Criminal Section of the Supreme Court of Justice shall have competence on appeal or in review; and final appeal shall be by the Supreme Court of Justice, excluding the Justices who make up the Criminal section.

The aforementioned courts shall have equal competence over common crimes connected to those specified in this Law. In these cases, it shall decide the procedures to be applied.

Article 10. When in the course of the case it appears that a purely military offense or violation may have been committed, the Chamber shall certify what is pertinent and give account to the corresponding military court for trial of the offense.

Article 11. When in the course of a case before a judge of a common Criminal Court, it appears that one of the offenses covered by this Law may have been committed, he shall certify what is pertinent to either of the Chambers, and inform the Attorney General of the Republic. The actions taken by the remitting judge shall be valid.

Article 12. The offenses dealt with by this Law and the common crimes connected to them shall not be tried before a jury.

Article 13. Any of the justices of the peace or judges of first instance shall be competent to take cognizance of the first investigative procedures, within their receptive judicial territories, and must give account of them to the Chambers mentioned in Article 9 within the unextendable period of five days.

TITLE III – Procedure

Article 14. The case may be brought by the Chamber on its own initiative or by complaint of the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic, which shall be presented to either of the aforementioned Chambers.

The Office of the Attorney General may be represented before the court by its auxiliary agents, and the District Attorney attached to the Chamber may also participate.

Article 15. When the denunciation has been admitted, the Chamber shall pursue the corresponding investigation and shall order the arrest during the period of the investigation of the person or persons charged.

Any presumption or indication of the participation of the person or persons charged shall be sufficient for ordering their provisional arrest.

Article 16. The investigation shall be completed within forty-five days. When completed, the Chamber, on the basis of the evidence, shall dismiss the case or hear it in plenary session. In the latter case, no appeal having been interposed after proper notice, it shall open the case for presentation of evidence for the period of eight working days.

Article 17. When the period or taking evidence has ended and whether or not notifications have been made to show the facts prove, without need for accusations of contempt of court, the Chamber shall pronounce definitive judgement within twelve days.

Article 18. It shall only be possible to appeal, and in either direction, the act of dismissal, the act of presentation to the plenary Chamber and the definitive judgement.

If no appeal is made of the act of dismissal or of the definitive judgement, the case shall be sent to the higher court for review, and the defendant shall not be set free until the reviewing court has decided on the matter.

Article 19. When it hears a case on appeal or for review, the Criminal Section of the Supreme Court of Justice may add to the evidence received in first instance or consider what it deems advisable; and it shall confirm, amend, revoke, or annual the decision or sentence in question.

Article 20. During the investigation and the trial in plenary session, the types of evidence mentioned in the Criminal Code and anything that may lead to judicial certainty shall be admitted.

Article 21. The appreciation and evaluation of the evidence of the corpus delicti and for the crime shall be made in accordance with the rules established in the Code of Criminal Procedures.

Events or acts that are evident and notorious, that are in the public domain because great publicity has been given to them may be used as evidence, in the prudent judgment of the competent court.

Article 22. The mention that the accused makes in his statement on the participation of some person in the crime may be an element of proof provided that it is corroborated by other proof; and when corroborated by more than one element of proof, it may be considered as presumption.

Article 23. In all matters not covered in this Law, the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure shall apply.

Article 24. This decree shall enter into force eight days after its publication in the Official Gazette.

GIVEN IN THE CHAMBER OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY: LEGISLATIVE PALACE: San Salvador, this twenty-fourth day of November in the year one thousand nine hundred seventy-seven. Rubén Alfonso Rodríguez, President – Alfredo Morales Rodríguez, Vice President – Benjamin Wilfrido Navarrete, Vice President –Mario S. Hernández Segura, First Secretary – Matías Romero, First Secretary – Gabriel Mauricio Gutiérrez Castro, Second Secretary – Victor Manuel Mendoza Vaquedano, Second Secretary – Pablo Mateau Llort, Second Secretary.

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT: San Salvador, this twenty-fourth day of November in the year one thousand nine hundred seventy-seven.


Carlos Humberto Romero, President of the Republic. Federico Castillo Yanes, Minister of Defense and Public Security – Rafael Flores y Flores, Minister of Justice.


Julio Ernesto Astacio, minister of the Presidency of the Republic.

21. According to a note form the Government of El Salvador dated November 8, 1978, this law continues in force and is being applied at present:

My Foreign Ministry has instructed me, Mr. Chairman, to state to you on behalf of the Government of El Salvador that since the Law of Defense and Guaranty of Public Order entered into force until present there have been placed at the disposal of the First Chamber of Criminal Matters of the First Section of the Center, one of the two courts competent in accordance with the aforementioned law to hear the cases—brought on account of offenses against the constitutional public order—one hundred sixty-six defendants, of whom one hundred two are at liberty and the rest, or sixty-four, have been provisionally detained, while the corresponding investigations are being conducted.

F. Other statutory Laws

22. The Constitution provides that it is the duty of the Legislative Assembly to enact, interpret, amend and repeal “Statutory laws” (Article 47, No. 12). Statutory laws mean laws of lower rank than the Constitution.

23. Among the statutory laws that may affect some of the human rights referred to in this report, mention is made of the following:

- Labor Code - Decree No. 15, of June 23, 1962, and various amendments to that Code. [3]/

- Criminal Code – Decree No. 270, of February 13, 1973, and various amendments to that Code. [4]/

- Code of Criminal Procedure – Decree No. 45o, of October 11, 1972, and various amendments to that Code. [5]/

- Law on the Social Fund for Housing – Decree No. 328, of December 4, 1975. [6]/

- Law on Rental of Lands – Decree No. 125, of November 11, 1975. [7]/

- Law establishing the instituto Salvadoreño de Transformación Agraria – Decree No. 302, of June 26, 1965, and the amendments to it. [8]/

- First Draft of the Transformación Agraria – Decree No. 31, of June 29, 1975. [9]/

- Civil Code – Decree of the Executive Branch dated August 23, 1859, and the amendments to it.

G. International obligations of the Republic of El Salvador

24. The Republic of El Salvador voted to approve the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of man (Bogotá, 1948) and of the resolutions of the OAS that established the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and broadened its powers. El Salvador is also linked to the specific standards of the OAS Charter concerning human rights (Article 3.j, 16, 33, 43, 51. E, 112, 150)

25. The Government of El Salvador signed the American Convention on Human Rights (San José, 1969) and on June 15, 1978, the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador ratified the Convention in accordance with Article 47, No. 29, of its Constitution. On June 23, 1978, the Government of El Salvador deposited its instrument of ratification with the General Secretariat of the Organization. [10]/

26. In addition, the Government of El Salvador is a party to the following treaties on this subject: [11]/

- Convention of the American States on Asylum (February 20, 1828);

- Convention of the American States on Political Asylum (December 26, 1933);

- Inter-American Convention on the Granting of Civil Rights to Women (May 2, 1948);

- Inter-American Convention on the Granting of Civil Rights to Women (May 2, 1948);

- Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (December 9, 1948);

- Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded, Sick, and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea (August 12, 1949);

- Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field (August 12, 1949);

- Geneva Convection relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (August 12, 1949)

- Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in time of War (August 12, 1949);

- Convention on the International Right of Correction (March 31, 1953);

- Convention of the American States on Territorial Asylum (March 28, 1954);

- Convention of the American States on Diplomatic Asylum (March 28, 1954);

- ILO Convention No. 105 on the Suppression of Forced Labor (June 25, 1957).




[1] Art. 204. The University of El Salvador is autonomous in its teaching, administrative, and financial aspects, and should perform a social service. It shall be governed by statutes based on law that shall establish the general principles for its organization and functioning.

The State shall contribute towards insuring and increasing the assets of the University and shall annually include items in the budget for its maintenance.

[2] See Chapter V, page 102, and Chapter VII, page 126.

[3] “Recopilación de Leyes” -Publicaciones de la Asamblea Legislativa, El Salvador, 1977, -Volume V, pp. 43-184.

[4] Idem – pp. 185-300.

[5] Idem – pp. 300-446.

[6] Idem – pp. 749-773.

[7] Idem – pp. 991-1013.

[8] Idem – pp. 1037-1078.

[9] Idem – pp. 1217-1224.

[10] The Government of El Salvador deposited its instrument of ratification with the following reservation:

“The American Convention on Human Rights, called the ¢Pact of San José, Costa Rica, signed at San José, Costa Rica on November 22, 1969, made up of a preamble and 82 articles is ratified, as approved by the Executive branch in the area of Foreign Affairs through decision No. 405, of June 14 of this year, making the reservation that such ratification’s understood to be without prejudice to the fact that some of the provisions of the Convention may be in conflict with express provisions of the Constitutions of the Republic-”

[11] El Salvador has also signed the following conventions concerning human rights:

1. International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.

2. International Covenant on Civil and political Rights.

3. Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

4. Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons.

5. Convention on the Political Rights of Women.

6. Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Salve Trade, and Practices Similar to Slavery.


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