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El Salvador: the Legislative Assembly must ensure the prompt selection of Supreme Court judges


GENEVA (29 August 2018) – The Legislative Assembly of El Salvador is being urged by a UN human rights expert to accelerate the selection process for appointing new judges of the Supreme Court.

The mandates of four of the court’s five judges integrating the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice expired in July 2018, and there are concerns about the process to replace them. One judge is also to be selected in the Civil Chamber.

“The election of the judges should be done through an open, public and transparent contest, which would allow the participation of civil society organisations,” said the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego García-Sayán.

“The individuals selected must be irreproachable in their personal and professional conduct, be independent, impartial and have a commitment to defend human rights and democracy. The Legislative Assembly must also promote socio-cultural diversity and gender equality parity for applicants,” the UN expert urged.

“These requirements are fundamental to ensuring the independence of the judiciary but the Legislative Assembly has not yet met them. There are concerns that political negotiation rather than an independent mechanism of evaluation of professional capacities is being used for the selection of those who aspire to be part of the Supreme Court of Justice,” said Mr. García-Sayán.

The Special Rapporteur is stressing that without the required new appointments, the Constitutional Chamber will not be able to make any judgements, leaving individuals and institutions in El Salvador without legal recourse. The new judges will be in office for nine years.

“The Legislative Assembly must designate the most qualified applicants for the position of Magistrate of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice without unjustified delays and in compliance with international human rights law,” Mr. García-Sayán stressed.

The expert has been in contact with the Government of El Salvador regarding the issues highlighted.


Mr. Diego García-Sayán took up his functions as UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in December 2016. Mr. García-Sayán was formerly a judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for two consecutive terms. During his tenure, he was elected Vice-President of the Court (2008-2009) and President of the Court for two consecutive terms (2009-2013). He has long-standing experience working on human rights issues in a variety of settings, including for the United Nations and the Organization of American States. Among others, he was: Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the Peace Agreements at El Salvador and for the subsequent verification of the agreements reporting directly to the Security Council; member and Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances during several years; member of the Redesign Panel on the United Nations System of Administration of Justice, appointed by the UN Secretary-General in 2006; Head of the Electoral Mission of the Organisation of American States (OAs) in Guatemala during the general elections (2007).

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page –  El Salvador

For more information and media requests, please contact: Mr. Stefano Sensi (+41 22 917 9237 / ssensi@ohchr.org) or write to SRindependenceJL@ohchr.org.

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts, please contact: Mr.Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rightswww.standup4humanrights.org