N° 104/10





Washington, D.C., October 20, 2010—The Office of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) carried out a visit to the Republic of El Salvador on October 5-9, 2010. The delegation was headed by the Rapporteur, Commissioner Rodrigo Escobar Gil.


The Inter-American Commission appreciates the Salvadoran government's efforts to correct many of the deficiencies that the country's prison system has suffered for decades. In this regard, the IACHR takes note of important initiatives such as the strengthening of the Penitentiary School; efforts to purge the ranks of prison personnel; the establishment of national dialogue processes; measures planned to reduce prison overcrowding; plans to improve the management of the Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents (ISNA); and the attitude of greater openness that the current government has shown toward civil society organizations.


At the same time, the Office of the Rapporteur expresses its concern over the structural deficiencies it observed in the Salvadoran prison system. This situation is the result of a decades-long absence of public policies that would enable the prison system to fulfill the aims established by the American Convention on Human Rights: "the reform and social readaptation of the prisoners."


The Office of the Rapporteur verified a prison overpopulation rate of more than 300%. The high level of overcrowding and the lack of adequate physical structures, including insufficient access to sanitary facilities and drinking water, facilitate the spread of respiratory illnesses and infections, creating deplorable heath conditions. The Office of the Rapporteur is also concerned about the lack of access to reeducation and training programs; the practice of military forces conducting bodily searches of inmates' family members at certain prisons; the lack of adequate installations for receiving visitors in appropriate conditions; and the inadequate food provided to those deprived of liberty.


Attached to this press release is an annex containing the Office of the Rapporteur's preliminary observations on its visit to El Salvador.


A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.


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