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UN rights body criticizes El Salvador arbitrary detention

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [official website] voiced concern [press release; report] last week over security interests overriding the right of individuals to be free from arbitrary detention in El Salvador. The UN Working Group also criticized the overcrowding in police and prison facilities in Central America. The investigation consisted of visits to 11 prisons along with various meetings with lawyers, human rights organizations and members of society. Prisoners interviewed privately complained of invasive and humiliating searches of themselves, as well as their relatives and lawyers. Despite awareness by authorities and society of the importance of human rights, the conditions surrounding detention in El Salvador remain problematic. The Working Group expressed concern that the 1998 Criminal Procedure Code, which would safeguard human rights guarantees, was not fully implemented by El Salvador. The report states:

The Working Group considers the need to address the problem of security in the country as a legitimate and critical issue of concern. It believes that the right to security is an important human right that is interlinked with the right to life. At the same time the Working Group reiterates that the right to liberty and to be free from arbitrary deprivation of liberty is also of extraordinary value and that there is a dire need to safeguard both fundamental rights. The need for public security cannot therefore be pursued or achieved without due consideration of the right to liberty and the right to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention.
A final report is expected to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in 2013.

Human rights groups have been increasingly vocal about the need for human rights amidst recent protests and investigations of detention facilities. In January, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] released [JURIST report] its annual World Report, leading with a criticism of Western governments' support of Middle Eastern regimes that stifle and suppress protests. In December, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay urged [JURIST report] the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for investigation into crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian government. An estimated 7,000 detainees are still being held without due process by Libyan revolutionaries, according to a UN report [JURIST report] made public in November. In October, UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) [official website] released a report stating that the prisoners in some Afghan-run detention facilities have been beaten and tortured.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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