Reports of lawyers from the District Attorney's office being threatened, and state efforts to protect the office's employees (2001-2003) [SLV41242.E]

The only reports found on lawyers or prosecutors in El Salvador receiving threats during the 2001-2003 period refer to the office of the Attorney General (Fiscalía General) of El Salvador in 2001.

Reports indicate that the Attorney General of El Salvador, Belisario Artiga, as well as a former Special Prosecutor (Fiscal Especial), Roberto Vidales, and auxiliary agents (fiscales auxiliares) of their office received death threats as a result of their probe into the legitimacy of law degrees held by several prosecutors, attorneys and judges in El Salvador (El Diario de Hoy 8 Sept. 2001; Probidad 2-8 Sept. 2001). The threats were reportedly received through leaflets (panfletos), anonymous writings (anónimos) and telephone calls; also, some office vehicles had been damaged (ibid.). Roberto Vidales reportedly left El Salvador due to "pressures and death threats" (presiones y amenazas de muerte) related to that investigation (ibid. 9-15 Sept. 2001). The Attorney General mentioned that he might consider starting an investigation on these threats (El Diario de Hoy 8 Sept. 2001). Meanwhile, the president of the Supreme Court of El Salvador reportedly lamented the situation, while adding that the Attorney General could "choose to follow legal avenues" (puede optar por los caminos legales) to address the threats (ibid.).

The Salvadorean anti-corruption organization Probidad reported in a 2001 year-end report that the Attorney General's office was perhaps the only state institution to carry out internal anti-corruption efforts, which had resulted in the dismissal of 24 prosecutors (fiscales) for a variety of offences and crimes (Probidad 7 Dec. 2001). However, by 2002 its efforts relating to the investigation of corrupt judges had been slowed or brought to a halt by "boycotts and pressure, and even death threats" (acciones de boicot y de presión, y aún de amenazas de muerte) (ibid. 6 Mar. 2002).

Additional references to threats against public attorneys in El Salvador or to state actions to address those threats during the requested period could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


El Diario de Hoy/El [San Salvador]. 8 September 2001. Edward Gutiérrez. "Fiscal Gral. amenazado de muerte." [Accessed 26 Feb. 2003]

Probidad, San Salvador. 6 March 2002. "Posición de PROBIDAD frente al Informe de Derechos Humanos del Departamento de Estado estadounidense." (Google cache) [Accessed 25 Feb. 2003]

_____. 7 December 2001. Jaime López. "El Salvador: Retrato de la corrupción salvadoreña." (Google cache) [Accessed 25 Feb. 2003]

_____. 9-15 September 2001. "Resumen de noticias del 09 al 15 de septiembre/2001: Títulos falsos." (Google cache) [Accessed 25 Feb. 2003]

_____. 2-8 September 2001. "Resumen de noticias del 02 al 08 de septiembre/2001: Amenazados de muerte por la anticorrupción." (Google cache) [Accessed 25 Feb. 2003]

Additional Sources Consulted

Central America Report [Guatemala City]. 2001-January 2003

IRB Databases

Latin American Weekly Report [London]. 2001-January 2003

Latinamerica Press [Lima]. 2001-January 2003

Internet sites and search engines, including:

Amnesty International

Corte Suprema de Justicia, El Salvador. Press reviews, 2002-February 2003

El Faro [San Salvador]. Searchable archives

Human Rights Watch

La Prensa [Tegucigalpa]

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