Alert: Keep track of all human rights news on our website and social media!
El Salvador
Urgent Interventions

El Salvador: new attack on the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organisation ‘Entre Amigos’


SLV 001 / 0101 / OBS 002
El Salvador
5 January 2001

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the FIDH and the OMCT, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in El Salvador.

Brief description of the situation

The Observatory is gravely concerned by information received from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) of a new attack on the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender organisation ‘Entre Amigos’, in El Salvador.

According to the information received, on 29 October 2000, the premises of Entre Amigos were broken into during the night, and a fax machine was stolen. On December 3, 2000, in another early-morning break-in, the cables of a recently installed alarm system were cut, and the offices were thoroughly searched, with a membership lists well as petty cash stolen. Moreover, on October 27 2000, an employee of the organization was robbed of her personal documents and of the organization’s fortnightly payroll as she emerged from a bank in San Salvador.

It is noted that during these attacks, costly equipment that could be easily transported was not touched by the intruders, who focused their attention on items of potentially high political value, such as member lists.

In view of a number of attacks against Entre Amigos over the last few years, the Observatory believes that these recent crimes are not ordinary attacks but an attempt to interfere with the activities of Entre Amigos.

November 19, 2000. Walter Sanchez, a transvestite who was also a member of Entre Amigos, was shot to death in the street by unidentified men firing from a passing car.

April 3, 2000. Juan Carlos Cortés Peña, a sex worker who is also a member of Entre Amigos, was attacked by police officers while at work. He stood up to the abuse. Few hours later, he was arrested, allegedly because "faggots should not talk back to police officers". He was released after intense local and international pressure was put on the Salvadorian police.

June 29, 1999. Unknown individuals shot and injured a gay man as he was leaving the "Entre Amigos" offices in the company of Mr. Hernandez.

June 26, 1999. A person who later identified himself as a member of the special Presidential Battalion used his weapon to threaten a transgender person who was participating in Lesbian and Gay Pride Day celebrations in the Constitution Plaza in San Salvador.

March 7, 1999. William Hernandez, the group's Executive Director, received a death threat on the day of El Salvador's presidential election. He received several others until February 2000, when he was finally granted police protection following an intense local and international campaign. (See urgent appeal

December 6, 1998. Unknown persons broke into the "Entre Amigos" offices and went through the confidential records of the group. A sound system was stolen during the break-in, in order, activists believe, to make it appear a robbery.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities of El Salvador urging them to:

take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of all members of Entre Amigos and order an immediate investigation into these attacks and harassment in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
ensure the application of the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the General Assembly of the UN on December 9th 1998, especially with respect to the protection of the right of all persons, "...individually or in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels" (Art.1.) as well as the duty of the State to ensure “the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure, adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration" (Art.12.2);
ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards.


Lic. Mauricio Sandoval, Director General de la PNC - Policía Nacional Civil, Ministerio de Seguridad Pública, Alameda Juan Pablo II, arriba del Parque Infantil, San Salvador, El Salvador, Fax (503) 221 39 55 /22136 88.

The Diplomatic Representatives of El Salvador in your country.

Paris-Geneva, 5 January 2001

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line: Fax: + 033 (0) 1 55 80 83 92
Tel: FIDH 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 OMCT +41 22 809 49 39
Sign up now

Subscribe to our latest news & alerts