Attitude and actions of authorities in cases of rape and of abduction of women (update to SLV18257.E of 23 September 1994) [SLV30650.E]

Please consult Responses SLV16857.F of 23 March 1994, SLV18887.E of 28 November 1994, SLV18955.E of 21 November 1994 and SLV25693.E of 13 February 1997 which provide information that adds to that included in SLV18257.E. Although the focus of some of these Responses is domestic violence, they contain information on legal recourse and response to cases of violence against women in general.

In addition to these, the most recent edition of Country Reports provides statements on the viability of legal recourse through public legal aid, prosecutors and courts for criminal cases, including the circumstances in which these may prove more or less effective. Country Reports 1997 also provides information on rape and violence against women (see sections on "Denial of Fair Public Trial" and on "Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status: Women").

Although without specific references to female victims, various sources report an increase in cases of kidnapping and growing disappointment in the population with the performance of police and judicial authorities towards this and other forms of crime.

For example, recent civilian demonstrations in El Salvador demanded effective action against crime by the authorities and the modification of the Penal and Penal Procedures codes to prevent the release of criminals (El Faro 31 Oct. 1998; El Diario de Hoy 9 Oct. 1998). As a result of public pressure, the National Civilian Police will reportedly be engaging in neighbourhood watch and witness reward programs that will seek greater citizen involvement in the fight against crime (ibid.).

A United States criminologist studying the current crime wave in El Salvador reportedly concluded that official statistics on crime in El Salvador are not reliable, since many people do not trust the police or the effectiveness of the existing law, and do not report crimes (CoLatino 15 Dec. 1998). The criminologist expressed concern over an apparent distance or antagonism between the police and the population at large, with local police authorities blaming the population for exaggerating the situation and community leaders blaming police for negligence, with the population claiming that there was a wave of kidnappings while local police authorities denied it (ibid.).

The most recent case of questionable performance of authorities before cases of kidnapping is reported by various Salvadorean dailies on 15 December 1998, describing how a group of alleged kidnappers was released the previous day on a technicality. In the face of a court's dismissal of charges against 15 persons charged with a series of abductions, even the Interior Minister expressed disapproval of courts that cite minor procedural faults such as the absence of an adequately-filled form to release criminals against whom there is sufficient evidence (CoLatino 15 Dec. 1998). The minister stated that such actions by courts could promote kidnapping (ibid.). Earlier in the year, the National Association of Private Enterprises (ANEP) had presented President Calderon Sol with a number of proposals for reforming the cited codes and thus prevent the release of criminals on technicalities before they are sentenced or tried (El Faro 24 Oct. 1998).

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.


CoLatino [San Salvador]. 15 December 1998. "Estadisticas de PNC no pueden ser confiables: experto en criminologia" and "Resolucion en caso secuestros sorprende a funcionarios." [Internet] [Accessed 15 Dec. 1998]

El Diario de Hoy [San Salvador, in Spanish]. 9 October 1998. Jaime Garcia. "Business and Citizens Unite Against Crime." (Central America NewsPak [Austin, Tex.] 28 Sept.-4 Oct. 1998)

El Faro [San Salvador]. 31 October 1998. "Movimiento civico contra la delincuencia realizo jornada de protesta." [Internet] [Accessed 15 Dec. 1998]

_____. 24 October 1998. "ANEP propone reformar codigos penales." [Internet] http:// [Accessed 15 Dec. 1998]

Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 1997. "El Salvador." Washington, DC: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. [Internet] http://www.state. gov/www/global/human_rights/ 1997_hrp_report/elsalvad.html [Accessed 14 Dec. 1998]