One of the highest profile members of government in El Salvador has no power and no ability to make or enforce laws. Beatrice Alamanni de Carrillo holds the post of Procuradora para la Defensa de los Derochos Humanos or Human Rights Ombudswoman (PDDH). The post of PDDH was created in the constitution following the 1992 peace accords. The PDDH is to monitor and report on human rights issues in the country. But her power is only the power of persuasion and publicity. The PDDH can neither prosecute violators nor pass laws. She can only denounce the human rights violations which she observes.
After years in which the PDDH office was weak and ineffectual, Dr. Carrillo was unanimously elected Ombudswoman by the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly in July 2001. In June 2004, she was reelected for a second three-year term.
Dr. Carrillo is eminently qualified for the post. She studied law at University of Turin in Italy and practiced law in El Salvador. Together with the late Jesuit priest, Fr. Ignacio Ellacuria, the Ombudswoman founded the internationally renowned Department of Law at the University of Central America (UCA). In 1989 during El Salvadors civil war, following the assassination of Fr. Ellacuria, Dr. Carrillo was forced to flee El Salvador. Two years later she returned to El Salvador to continue practicing law and served as an international consultant.
During her term as PDDH, she has been outspoken on human rights issues in the country. Her public denouncements of various government policies and powerful actors in societies have resulted in death threats and other attempts to intimidate the PDDH. Reports indicate that those threats have increased in recent months.
In coming days I will highlight the public statements and positions of the PDDH on several recent issues in El Salvador.
For more on Dr. Carrillo, you can read the short biography on the Share Foundation web site, as well as the biographical information (in Spanish) on the PDDH web site.