The United Nations issued a report last week pointing to the serious problems in El Salvador's criminal justice system:
2 February 2012 – A United Nations expert human rights panel has voiced concern about the right to security impinging on the right to be free from arbitrary detention in El Salvador, as well as extreme overcrowding in prisons and police facilities in the Central American nation.
Wrapping up a 10-day mission to the country, the five-member UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also highlighted the lack of written notification of sentences to the defendant and the lack of effective access to defence counsel.
Another concern was the “over-reliance on informers and testimony by opportunistic witnesses,” the Group said in a news release issued in the capital, San Salvador.
“This practice not only affects the credibility of testimonies due to the incentives offered, but also jeopardizes the fairness of the judicial process as the procedure of cross-examination is often not made possible,” said the Group’s Chair-Rapporteur, El Hadji Malick Sow.Prisoners who were interviewed privately complained of the invasive and humiliating searches faced, including of their relatives and lawyers, introduced since the armed forces were charged with security in prisons.
The Group questioned the effectiveness of the judiciary, particularly concerning the right to be brought promptly before a judge. “The fact that some individuals wait eight years for an appeal, with minimal intervention from judges, is disconcerting,” said Mr. Sow. (more).