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El Salvador: UN expert condemns dismissals of top judges and A-G

GENEVA (5 May 2021) – The UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Diego García-Sayán, said today he was seriously concerned by the decision of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador to remove all the magistrates on the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court and the Attorney General.

“This decision, taken last Saturday in matter of few hours by the Congress, didn´t follow minimum guarantees of due process, and was followed by the hasty selection and appointment, as well, of their replacements,” said the UN expert, adding the new appointments were not conducted transparently.

“It must be recalled that these steps against judicial independence have been undertaken in open and intense interaction with the political decision and intervention of President Bukele whose political party controls the Congress. 

“The decision violates article 172 of the Salvadorian Constitution which guarantees independence of the magistrates and international rules such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Basic Principles of the UN on independence of judges and the Guidelines of the UN on the Role of Prosecutors,” García-Sayán said. He added it also ran contrary to inter-American standards and binding rulings of the Inter American Court of Human Rights.

The Special Rapporteur emphasizes that the principle of the irremovability of judges is fundamental for judicial independence. "Democratic institutions, the separation of power and independence of the judiciary are under attack," he stressed.


Mr. Diego García-Sayán took up his functions as UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in December 2016. He 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.

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.

For more information and media requests, please contact: Mr. Stefano Sensi (email: ssensi@ohchr.org )

For media enquiries regarding other UN independent experts, please contact Renato de Souza (+41 22 928 9855 / rrosariodesouza@ohchr.org)

 Follow news related to the UN’s independent human rights experts on Twitter@UN_SPExperts.

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