EL SALVADOR: Children's rights and the Inter-American system

Summary: This report summarises hearings on children's rights in El Salvador held by the Inter-American Commission, reports by the Commission's Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child, and cases brought to the Commission and Court.

El Salvador is a member of the Organization of American States (OAS). The Inter-American Commission is an autonomous body of the OAS which monitors Member States' compliance with their obligations under regional human rights conventions.

Regional instruments ratified

El Salvador ratified the American Convention on Human Rights on 20 June 1978

Search CRIN's legal database to find other regional instruments to which El Salvador is a party.


Inter-American Commission on Human Rights


  • The Inter-American Commission has held a number of hearings on the enforced disappearance of children during the internal armed conflict, for example in October 2006 on the case of the Contreras brothers, three children who "disappeared" during the war. Other cases were brought in July 2006 relating to the disappearance of two sisters and of six children in July 2007 in Case 12.518 – José Rubén Rivera, brought by the Asociación Pro Búsqueda/ CEJIL. The Commission filed the case with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in June 2010.

    In November 2009, State representatives from El Salvador acknowledged for the first time that forced disappearances of children were carried out by the State during the internal armed conflict in a hearing presented by Asociación Pro-Búsqueda. The State did not oppose the arguments set out by Pro-Búsqueda in relation to specific cases brought to the Commission's attention.
    Read the news story and hearing presentation (in Spanish)

  • In February – March 2007, the Commission held a hearing on how public security policies violate children's rights in El Salvador. The hearing, which was requested by the Centre for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and the Network for Children and Young People (RIA), stressed that the implementation of the Mano Dura and Súper Mano Dura (Heavy Hand and Very Heavy Hand) policies have resulted in high numbers of young people being arbitrarily detained, violating their right to personal liberty and freedom of association.
    Read the report: Security policies violate children and young people's rights
  • Several hearings on the regional situation of children's rights have also included El Salvador in their scope. These include a report on the the right to education of Afro-descendant and indigenous communities in the Americas in November 2009, brought by Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights in March 2008, and a report on child labour in Central America by Defence for Children International (DCI-Costa Rica), the Global March for against Child Labour and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) in March 2006. Read the report.
  • In March 2005, the Commission held a thematic hearing on the situation of children and adolescents subjected to commercial sexual exploitation in El Salvador. (go to part c)

Country visits by the Commission's Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) carried out a visit to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to gather information on the situation of children involved with groups known as maras or pandillas (gangs), and to learn about detention conditions.

The Commission expressed concern about the human rights situation of these children, particularly with regard to the extreme poverty, murders, violations of personal well-being, arbitrary arrests, mistreatment, stigmatisation, and discrimination to which they are subjected.

While expressing solidarity with victims of violence and insecurity, the Commission emphasised that the right and the obligation of States to ensure public safety are not incompatible with respect for human rights. Read the press release.

Commission reports on El Salvador



Inter-American Court of Human Rights

El Salvador has accepted the contentious jurisdiction of the Court (what does this mean?)

Find cases on children's rights in El Salvador here.


Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.