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Torture in El Salvador: Ex-Political Prisoners Challenge Impunity

August 6, 2018

A new report from the UWCHR’s Unfinished Sentences project features the stories of former Salvadoran political prisoners who have organized for mutual support and justice. Decades after the founding of the Committee of Political Prisoners of El Salvador (COPPES) by imprisoned activists, survivors of torture and illegal detention continue to struggle against impunity. Their cases are now being investigated:

Rafael reconstructs his experience of detention in the Santa Tecla Penitentiary with an investigator from the Human Rights Unit and an employee of the Museum of Santa Tecla, housed in the former prison.

Rafael reconstructs his experience of detention in the Santa Tecla Penitentiary. Read more about his case via Unfinished Sentences.

Earlier this year, 38 years after his torture and arbitrary detention, José Rafael Martínez Segura returned to Santa Tecla Penitentiary in the department of La Libertad, El Salvador. This time, however, he was joined by police officers and a fiscal (prosecutor) from El Salvador’s recently-created Human Rights Unit, tasked with investigating his case. Their visit was a step in the investigative process known as “reconstrucción de los hechos,” or “reconstruction of the facts,” where investigators visit the site where crimes occurred to situate survivors’ testimony in physical space. Rafael’s case seeks justice for the arbitrary detention, violation of due process, prolonged physical and psychological torture, and deprivation of liberty which he endured for a period of two years, three months, and 23 days.

The investigation of Rafael Segura’s legal case represents progress for survivors of torture and arbitrary detention during the civil war in El Salvador. Read more about Rafael’s case and the background of torture in El Salvador on the website of our Unfinished Sentences project.

While you’re there, you can also take action to support survivors of torture and arbitrary detention by writing a message of solidarity which will be shared with the Committee of Former Political Prisoners of El Salvador (COPPES), our partners for this report.