Comparative law and justice/El Salvador

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Part of the Comparative law and justice Wikiversity Project 19:34, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Basic Information[edit | edit source]

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  • Name: Republic of El Salvador
  • Capital: San Salvador
  • Native Name: Cōzcatlān (which means Savior)
  • Location: The republic of El Salvador is one of seven countries in Central America, and perhaps it is the smallest one. Its borders are Honduras and Guatemala.
  • Population: 7.2 million people.
  • Main Religion: Catholic and Christian.
  • Political Division: El Salvador has been divided into fourteen departments.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Weather: Warm in the coastal areas and temperatures in the elevated plains.
  • Currency: US Dollar since 2001.

Brief History[edit | edit source]

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The origins of El Salvador start before Central America was colonized by Spain. There was a tribe of Indians called Pipils “The Pipil were a subgroup of a nomadic people known as the Nahua, who had migrated into Central America about 3000 B.C. The Nahua eventually fell under the sway of the Maya Empire, which dominated the Mesoamerican region until its decline in the ninth century A.D.” [1] In the earliest 1500s the Spanish arrived to America. Once they were in Central America they realized that the land was rich in gold and other minerals. As a result, the Spanish began to exterminate Indians, soon Indian’s culture became to an end, and a new culture arose especially in El Salvador. This race was called “Mestizos” because they were half blood Indians and Spanish. These children were the results of rapes that were mostly performed by the Spanish. Once the Meztizos got stronger as a society, they started to think about their independence from Spain. After some serious attempts made by Jose Matias Delgado along with other people to free themselves in 1821. El Salvador, as well as other countries of Central America, declared themselves as dependent countries.

Economic Development, Heath and Education[edit | edit source]

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  1. El Salvador is one of the most economic developed countries in Central America; however, it is still consider a third world country. The history of this country's economic development starts in 1950’s when plans made by the government stimulated the economy. As a result of this, rods, power facilities, credit facilities and other agencies and organizations were created to advance the economy. In a sense, this worked but not as it was planned. Furthermore, in 1973, another plan was announced. This plan was named CONAPLAN which was going to last five years. This plan had as its purpose to improve income distribution, employment, health nutrition, education and housing. During the last 60 years a lot of plans had been adopted but they have not work as well as they thought for a few reasons. One of the reasons is the fact that this country is populated which has a negative impact on jobs opportunities; according to resent statistics, there are 7.2 million people living in a territory of 21,000 km2. Moreover, other issues that have affected this country’s economy in the last few decades are some serious catastrophes such as the civil war that lasted twelve years, the hurricane Mitch, and the last two earthquakes. All these had a huge negative impact in this small country. [2] In El Salvador, “At least 4 out of every 10 persons live in conditions of poverty, and about half of all children and adolescents are poor.”[3] In 2000 El Salvador gave up its currency coin, now this territory uses the US Dollar in an effort to enhance economic growth. However, due to the issues that the country has faced it has a debt of around $4.5 billion which slows down its economy's development.
  2. On the other hand, health care in El Salvador has a good quality. “El Salvador has several private and public hospitals that are well equipped with modern technology and well-trained staffs. In addition, health centers are located throughout the country.”[4] According to recent studies “there are about six physicians per 10,000 people). Many Salvadoran physicians were trained abroad in Canada, Europe and/or the United States, so most doctors should be well-informed and aware of the latest treatments. For complicated illness or procedures” [5] Most of the hospitals take credit cards and offer and outstanding service, and the prices are very low compare with other hospital in other countries. However, even though prices are very low most of the population struggle in order to pay the use of these facilities or to receive assistance on behalf of the government.
  3. Education in this country is available to people through the public educational system and the private system. If one chooses private system the parents has to pay to sign in their children. The educational system in this country is divided into seven levels. The first level is one or two years of kindergarten which are not mandatory. The next three levels are 9 years which are broken into three levels. Level 1) GRATES 1st to 3rd , level 2) GREATES 4th to 6th , and level 3) GRATES 7th to 9th this is what we commonly know in the United States as elementary and middle school. After completing the 9th grade the next step is two years for a General bachelor degree or three years Technical bachelor degree. In the United States this is known as high school. After obtaining either the General or the Technical degree, students choose whether or not to continue with their education. If they choose to do so, they may look for University of El Salvador which is a public university or look for private ones. According to some statistics, “in 2002, the literacy rate was 77% for females and 82% for males.” [6]

Governance[edit | edit source]

  • Type: Republic.
  • Constitution: December 20, 1983.
  • Independence: September 15, 1821.
  • Branches:
  1. Executive--president and vice president(Mauricio Funes and Salvador Sanchez).
  2. Legislative--84-member Legislative Assembly.
  3. Judicial--independent (Supreme Court).
  • Administrative subdivisions: 14 departments.
  • Political parties (represented in the legislature): Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), National Conciliation Party (PCN), Christian Democratic Party (PDC), and Democratic Change (CD).
  • Suffrage: Universal at 18.],[7]

Elections[edit | edit source]

The process that El Salvador uses in its presidential elections are very similar to the United States. In this process, parties attack each other, the media is constantly covering campaigns or issues related to politics. In El Salvador in order to vote, people must be 18 years old or older and be a citizen either born or raised. The organization that is in charge of organizing and controlling the votes is the Central Electoral Council. “In order to cast their votes, all citizens are required to obtain from the Central Electoral Council an electoral identification card (carnet electoral) certifying their inscription in the national Electoral Register. The carnet electoral is presented at the individual's polling place and is the only form of identification accepted for this purpose. The card must bear the voter's photograph, signature (if literate), and right thumbprint. The carnet electoral is valid for five years from the date of issue.” Usually the Central Electoral Council coordinates with local municipal boards of election to determine the polling places which usually opens at 7:00am to 5:00pm on the specified day. [8]

Judicial Review[edit | edit source]

When the legistative branch has passed laws that the Supreme Court considers to be unconstitutional it has the right to review it and overturn it.

Courts and Criminal Law[edit | edit source]

The judicial branch of El salvador is composed by 15 judges elected by the Legislative Assembly. These judges are assigned to four chambers, constitutional, civil, penal, and administrative conflict. The role of judges in El Salvador depends on the level of authority they have to hear the cases. There are judges that decide cases involving misdemeanor and minor civil suits. These ones are usually called Justices of Peace. Then, there are two courts of appeals in which two judges are placed in each chamber. Finally, there is the Supreme Court. So, in the first court the judges' role is to hear both parties and to rule out any favor. On the other hand, in courts of appeals they hear fellonies and other serious crimes. When felony cases are held, juries are the ones who dicide the fate of the person in trial. The court system of El Salvador is adversarial trial, and there is the presumtion in which the accused is innocent until proven guilty.

Punishment, imprisonment rates and procedure[edit | edit source]

Punishment in this country is very similar to most countries around the world, even though El Salvador is a violent country there is no death penalty for those who commit serious crimes. They might get a life sentence without the possibilities of parole. Also, for those who commit misdemeanors, they have the opportunity to avoid going to jail by paying a fine.

Prison Convicted Men 9.020 Women 403 Total 9.423. Awaiting Sentencing Men 3.216 Women 2.17 Total The prisons in El Salvador are very dangerous and they are usually overcrowed which has an impact on the health and life of the prisoners. In order for people to be put in prison they had to have committed any offence. "Upon receiving a report, complaint or information from the police, the Prosecutor General presents a request for intervention to a peace court judge. A preliminary hearing is held during which said judge rules on whether the defendant will be taken into custody or not and whether the case merits continued investigation. This phase is called the opening hearing.

The procedural process has three main stages: preliminary or investigative; intermediate or analytical; and the adversarial or trial stage.

Once the prosecutor presents the charges (or other requests provided for by law) to the investigating judge (juez de investigación), the preliminary hearing is held for motions and discovery. The judge may authorize the use of alternatives to trial or allow or disallow evidence and order a trial. Once all parties have been notified, the court clerk submits all documents, places any seized objects at the disposition of the trial court and ensures the appearance of the accused.

Within forty-eight hours of receiving the respective notifications, the President of the trial court will set the date and time for the oral, public trial hearing, which must take place between ten days and one month after this date, and requires the continued presence of the judges and parties. Once the arguments have come to a close, the judges deliberate in a chamber assisted only by the court clerk. They may not defer or suspend this stage.

Some trials are conducted with a jury, which is formed of five jurors selected from the Electoral Registry. Jury selection takes place on the same day as the commencement of the public trial, which is presided over by a trial judge under ordinary criminal procedure. Each juror must declare the defendant guilty or not guilty verbally in the deliberation chamber. If a verdict of not guilty is reached, the judge will immediately acquit the defendant; if the verdict is guilty, the judge grants the parties the opportunity to present arguments on the sentence. Sentencing takes place no more than five days after the trial ends. In May 2006 there were 12,856 inmates held in El Salvador’s prisons, a 12.3% increase over 2003 and a 5.2% increase over 2004.Also that month, 73% of inmates had been sentenced and 27% were awaiting sentencing.The prison overcrowding rate is 57.3%. The worst case is that of Mariona Prison, which has a surplus of 1,811 inmates.3.433"[9]

Legal Personnel[edit | edit source]

In El Salvador for a person to become a lawyer he/she has to have a general bachelor’s degree, and then he has to complete seven years in a law school. Police officers are required to have a general bachelors degree and to cope with a physical, psychological and training test. In order to become a judge one must have at least ten years of experience working in a legal field such as a lawyer. Moreover, candidates must be at least 35 years old. Finally, when he/she has met all the requirements the legislative assembly is the branch the select them. In order for a candidate to become a President he/she has to have a decent level of education, be at list 35 years old, and be born in El Salvador.

Law Enforcement[edit | edit source]

“The PNC (National Civil Police) was created by the 1992 peace agreement signed by the ARENA government of Alfredo Cristiani (1989-1994) and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) insurgent group, which is now the country’s main opposition party.”… Since then, the PNC has been working against gangs and organized crimes in order to maintain a safe country. However; due to its low sources of money it faces a lot of issues when it comes to fighting crime within its borders. The salary of a police officer in El Salvador is around $450 per month. With this amount of money they have to support their families; as a result, accepting bribes is a tentative option to them. There are 18,000 officers in a country that has around 7.2 million people so there is an inbalance that stops officers to stand against crimes.

The Military in El Salvador is run by the government "The constitutional role of the Salvadoran armed forces is spelled out in Title Six, Chapter Eight of the Constitution. The military is charged with maintaining a representative democratic form of government, enforcing the no-reelection provision for the country's president, guaranteeing freedom of suffrage, and respecting human rights. The armed forces as an institution is defined as "essentially apolitical" and obedient to established civilian authority"[10] In order to be part of the military, an individual must be 18 years old however if it is voluntary they can be apart at 16 years of age for males and females. El Salvador has three military branches which are; Salvadoran Army (ES), Salvadoran Navy (FNES), Salvadoran Air Force (Fuerza Aerea Salvadorena, FAS) [11] "By law, Salvadoran Army officers had to attend their own service schools, including the Command and General Staff School (Escuela de Mando y Estado Mayor General). This war college provided courses in advanced military science for officers of the rank of lieutenant colonel and above and aspiring staff officers. Regular NCOs were trained at the Noncommissioned Officers School and at the Arms and Services School (Escuela de Armas y Servicios--EAS). The EAS provided specialist training for both officers and other ranks, as well as an advanced six-month course for field-grade officers. Basic and advanced officer training were offered at the Armed Forces Military Training Center (Centro de Entrenamiento Militar de las Fuerzas Armadas--CEMFA), which was established in La Union in 1984. The military also had a human rights training program for officers and enlisted personnel."[12]

Crime Rates and Public Opinion[edit | edit source]

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Crime in the republic of El Salvador is common for many reasons. First of all, this nation is the home of the most fearful and violent gangs such as MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha) and 18 (Mara Eighteen)These gangs terrorized the states of El Salvador especially in those populated areas such as markets and bus stops. According to recent statistics there are approximately 6,000 to 10,000 MS-13 members nationwide. There is also a large rivalry with the 18th street gang which is dangerous and violent as well. Both gangs propagate drug trafficking, robbery, extortion, prostitution, rum running, murder, and even contract killing, which make the streets of El Salvador very unsafe. There is also a high level of organized crime in the country. Leaders of these syndicates are usually members of the wealthy class and largely immune to police prosecution.

Prosecution statistics in El Salvador:

  • Acquitted 1,456 [15th of 30],
  • Adults prosecuted 68,031 [13th of 28]
  • Assaults 4,542 [32nd of 49]
  • Burglaries 496 [34th of 38]
  • Car thefts 3,069 [27th of 46]
  • Convicted 2,314 [32nd of 34]
  • Corruption > % of managers surveyed ranking this as a major business constraint 35.05 % [14th of 39],
  • Courts > % of managers surveyed lacking confidence in courts to uphold property rights 46.55 % [7th of 39],
  • Courts > % of managers surveyed ranking this as a major business constraint 16.34 % [11th of 39],
  • Embezzlements 202 [25th of 36],
  • Females prosecuted 9,496 [15th of 26],
  • Frauds 912 [36th of 48],

Illicit drugs-transshipment point for cocaine; small amounts of marijuana produced for local consumption; significant use of cocaine

  • Jails 21 [36th of 80],
  • Judges and Magistrates 619 [24th of 35],
  • Kidnappings 19 kidnappings [24th of 39],
  • Manslaughters 48 [21st of 42],
  • Murders 2,024 [6th of 49],
  • Murders committed by youths 1,147 [10th of 73],
  • Murders committed by youths per capita 50.2 [2nd of 57],
  • Murders with firearms 1,441 [5th of 36],
  • Police 16,149 [29th of 47],
  • Prisoners 11,055 prisoners [29th of 168],
  • Prisoners > Female 4.8% [49th of 134],
  • Prisoners > Per capita 158 per 100,000 people [56th of 164],
  • Prisoners > Pre-trial detainees 49.7% [35th of 143],
  • Prisoners > Share of prison capacity filled 167.5% [23rd of 128],
  • Rapes 842 [21st of 50],
  • Robberies 5,327 [21st of 47],
  • Software piracy rate 81% [25th of 107],
  • Total crimes 44,762 [36th of 50],[13]

Rights[edit | edit source]

"Although the government generally respected the rights of its citizens, protection of human rights was undermined by widespread violent crime, including the following: gang-related violence, high levels of impunity from prosecution, and judicial corruption. Other significant human rights problems included harsh, violent, and overcrowded prison conditions; lengthy pretrial detention; violence and discrimination against women; abuses against children, child labor, and forced child prostitution; trafficking in persons; violence and discrimination against sexual minorities; and inadequate enforcement of labor laws." [14]

Family Law[edit | edit source]

El Salvador is concern about Family Law. The family in this country is constituted only by a marriage between a man and a woman. Furthermore, those marriages that cannot have children have the opportunity to adopt. There has been significant statistics that 15 % of women from 1agewere married, divorced or widowed.5 to 19 of age were married, divorce or widowed. [15] Moreover, children who are born from parents who were not marry still have the opportunity to have the last names of the parents. Parents have the same authority, benefits and rights equally. In other words they both can work, and cope with the duties that families have. Divorce in El Salvador can be achieved through willfully grounds or any other issue such as adultery. If one on the partners decides not to continue with the marriage a judge is obligated to grant a divorce. Children in this country have protection. There are some articles in the constitution that protect them; for example, “Family Code, Art. 350.

In the interpretation and implementation of these provisions, the best interests of the child shall prevail. By the best interests of the child is meant everything that promotes the child's physical, psychological, moral and social development with a view to ensuring the full and harmonious development of his or her personality. Based on his or her best interests, the child shall have priority in receiving protection and help in all circumstances.

Family Code, Art. 351, Paragraph 9.

All minors have the right to: To be heard by his or her parents, guardians or other persons in a position of responsibility, and to express his or her views freely on all matters affecting him or her; the views thus expressed shall be taken into account in family decisions and in administrative and judicial proceedings.”[16] which specified the rights and to what children are entitled to.

Inheritance rights rights are equally protected and granted for men as well as women. Moreover, parents or any member of the family can willfully decide to inheres who he wants to administer any land, money or any other valuable procession. [17]

Human Rights & social enequality[edit | edit source]

The constitution of this country guaranties people’s rights such as speech, the press, assembly and other rights that protect the citizens from the government such as privacy and torture, which is a very important issue due to the fact that there has been significant statistics and cases in which the police has used excessive force. Furthermore, even though the constitution gives equal rights to all citizens, there is a sense that men are usually more beneficiated than women. Moreover, Discrimination plays a role between social classes. This comes notable when there is a legal battle between socio-economic classes. The law usually benefits that one that has more recourses than those who cannot even afford a private lawyer. [18] Those who apply the law say that the law is applied equally and that it does not discriminate anyone on the basis of gender, educational level, and so on; however, the reality is that the ones that are poorest end up in jails. For example, people who rob a bank and get caught will be put on jail. On the other hand, if a milliner robs the same amount of money through other means they might only do some time or pay a fine due to the fact that the crime committed was a white collar crime. In fact, in reality, even though there is a constitution and the government plays fair, there still is a presence of discrimination which according to me is there but it is really low compare to other countries.[19]

Works Cited[edit | edit source]

  1. Country Studies. "Salvador." Spanish Conquest and Colonization. WEBSITE accessed 03/03/2010,
  2. Enciclopedia of Nations." El Salvador-Economic development." WEBSITE accessed 03/06/2010,
  3. Unicef. "At a Glance: El Salvador. "Background. WEBSITE accessed 03/06/2010,
  4. El Salvador. "Physicians". WEBSITE accessed 03/06/2010,
  5. El Salvador."Health Care. WEBSITE accessed 03/06/2010,
  6. Wikipedia."Education in El Salvaddor." WEBSITE accessed 03/06/2010,
  7. U S Department of State."El Salvador." Goverment. WEBSITE accessed 02/04/2010,
  8. Country Studies."El Salvador" Political Dynamics. WEBSITE accessed 02/02/2010,
  9. Justice Studies Report of the Americas."El Salvador" Criminal Procedure. WEBSITE accessed 02/24/2010,
  10. Country Studies. "El Salvador." The Military. WEBSITE accessed 04/05/2010,
  11. The World Factbook."Central America and the Caribian" El Salvador. WEBSITE accessed 04/07/2010,
  12. Library of Congress Country Studies." El Salvador" Military School. WEBSITE accessed 04/07/2010,
  13. NationMaster."Countries A-Z." Central America and the Caribian Crime-El Salvador. WEBSITE accessed 02/23/2010,
  14. US Department of State."2009 Humans Rights Report: El Salvador" Respect For Humans rights. WEBSITE accessed 04/29/2010,
  15. Social Institution Of Gender Index."Gender equality and Social Institution." El Salvador. WEBSITE accessed 04/15/2010,
  16. RCW."El Salvador" Analysis. WEBSITE accessed 04/29/2010,
  17. SIGI."Gender equality and Social Institution." Family Code. WEBSITE accessed 04/29/2010,
  18. US Department of State."2009 Humans Rights Report: El Salvador" Respect For Humans rights.WEBSITE accessed 04/29/2010,
  19. SIGI."Gender equality and Social Institution." Family Code. WEBSITE accessed 04/29/2010,