El Salvador: Risk of Democratic Breakdown in the Face of Justice System Reforms

September 2, 2021

Designed by flatart / Freepik

During the plenary session of the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador held on Tuesday, August 30, pro-government deputies of the New Ideas (Nuevas Ideas) party introduced successive initiatives to modify the Judicial Career Law and the Organic Law of the Attorney General's Office into the parliamentary agenda. Hours later, without prior study or debate, they were approved with the vote of the ruling majority, who - during the session and later on their social media accounts - affirmed their desire to "clean up" the justice system

The approved reforms violate basic guarantees derived from the principle of judicial independence and fiscal autonomy by providing for the immediate dismissal of judges, magistrates and prosecutors over 60 years of age or with more than 30 years of service, whose mandates were not subject to a time limit and who enjoyed the guarantee of irremovability. According to the new rules, those who have been dismissed are placed in an "availability regime" in which, by decision of the Supreme Court or the Attorney General, they may continue to occupy their positions outside the career regime.

From DPLF, we strongly reject the massive dismissal of justice operators perpetrated by the legislative body, which not only violates their stability in office - a fundamental component of the principle of judicial independence - but also the guarantee of the citizens of El Salvador to be heard by judges appointed in accordance with previously established procedures recognized in international human rights treaties signed by the Salvadoran state.

Read the full press release here.