El Salvador: President Bukele pledges to respect human rights

El Salvador’s new government must promote and implement transformative human rights changes that fulfill the nation’s international commitments, said Amnesty International today in a meeting with President Nayib Bukele, who repeatedly vowed to respect human rights.

“We met with President Nayib Bukele to express to him our concerns about the grave human rights situation in El Salvador. We hope that his government will address these great challenges with determination and adopt without delay the changes the country needs to make human rights a reality,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

President Bukele’s government has a great opportunity to set El Salvador on a new course, but it also has a responsibility to ensure that human rights are central in decision-making and in the design and implementation of the nation’s public policies
Erika Guevara Rosas, directora para las Américas de Amnistía Internacional

At a meeting in San Salvador, an Amnesty International delegation presented President Bukele with a memorandum containing initial recommendations for his government in six key areas: justice, truth and reparation for victims of the armed conflict; the rights of women and girls; human rights defenders; security policies and human rights; migrants and refugees; and foreign policy and human rights. All of these issues were agreed with civil society organizations and human rights movements, including victims.

“President Bukele’s government has a great opportunity to set El Salvador on a new course, but it also has a responsibility to ensure that human rights are central in decision-making and in the design and implementation of the nation’s public policies,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.

“Given the enormous human rights challenges also faced by the neighboring countries of Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, this is a deeply concerning time for Central America. We therefore urge El Salvador’s new government to take a proactive role in promoting the protection of human rights in the region.”

President Bukele pledged to create an inter-ministerial roundtable to discuss strategies to improve the human rights situation in the country. He also promised to open up to international scrutiny and allow access to different bodies, such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He was firm in his commitment to become a distinct voice in Central America and to condemn human rights violations committed in the rest of the region.

We met with President Nayib Bukele to express to him our concerns about the grave human rights situation in El Salvador. We hope that his government will address these great challenges with determination and adopt without delay the changes the country needs to make human rights a reality
Erika Guevara Rosas, directora para las Américas de Amnistía Internacional

The Amnesty International delegation told him that, sadly, El Salvador is best known for two issues: violations of women’s and girls’ human rights through the total ban on abortion, and for the widespread violence in the country.

The president stressed that his government will not criminalize women and girls – especially those who live in situations of poverty – and will guarantee their sexual and reproductive rights. With respect to public security, he committed to implementing a comprehensive strategy that prioritizes an approach centered around prevention and rehabilitation. He also recognized the important work of Salvadoran civil society organizations and the role of human rights defenders in the country.

This constructive exchange must result in concrete action. Amnesty International is taking President Bukele’s word that he will push forward a human rights agenda, but will also be watching closely to ensure that El Salvador’s government complies with its international human rights commitments.

“Amnesty International will continue accompanying Salvadoran human rights organizations, who we hope will have the opportunity to share with the president their concerns and recommendations about the challenges facing the country as soon as possible,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Duncan Tucker: duncan.tucker@amnesty.org