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OHCHR Press Briefing Notes - El Salvador

OHCHR Press Briefing Notes - El Salvador

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Ravina Shamdasani

Location: Geneva

Subject: El Salvador

The vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in El Salvador is of deep concern. Since the beginning of 2017, at least seven transgender people have been murdered in El Salvador. Most recently, at the end of April, a prominent human rights defender working on the rights of LGBTI people, Karla Avelar was reportedly visited at her home in San Salvador by three men, who threatened her and demanded money from her within three days. Following the visit, Ms. Avelar was forced to flee her home – yet again. Over the past two years, she has been forced to move six times for security reasons. Ms. Avelar, who herself is transgender, has faced violence and intimidation numerous times over decades. She survived two attempts on her life, in 1992 and 1997, when she was shot multiple times and seriously wounded.

We urge the Government of El Salvador to take urgent measures to ensure the protection of Ms. Avelar and other LGBTI activists and individuals who are under threat, including by establishing an effective protection mechanism for human rights defenders working on sexual and reproductive rights and LGBTI activists.

The 2016 annual report of the Ombudsman’s Office of El Salvador states that 52 percent of trans women it surveyed said they had received death threats. The high rate of impunity and lack of prompt and effective investigations is endemic in the country, and clearly affects also crimes committed against the LGBTI community.

We call on the Government to conduct prompt, thorough and effective investigations into hate crimes against the LGBTI community. The UN Human Rights Office’s Regional Office for Central America is closely following the situation and remains ready to assist and advise the Government on these and other human rights challenges in the country. The Regional Office has also been providing support to the country's Attorney General, including training for prosecutors on transitional justice.

ENDS

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