“Today, we celebrate Teresa’s freedom, her joy, and her tears upon reuniting with her ten-year-old son. This is the result of the actions in solidarity taken by thousands of people and various organizations in El Salvador and other countries.”
–The Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion in El Salvador
On Friday, May 20, a Salvadoran Court held a resentencing hearing for Maria Teresa Rivera, a woman who was serving a 40-year prison term for allegedly killing her newborn child. Amnesty International, along with many organizations around the world, argued that the evidence against her did not prove that she was guilty and that she had been convicted as the result of the Salvadoran authorities zeal to prosecute women suspected of having an abortion—including poor women who suffered still births or miscarriages. Furthermore, these women did not receive fair trials because of their lack of economic resources.
That morning, a Salvadoran newspaper reported that the Attorney General of the Republic not only continued to insist on Maria Teresa’s guilt—he was adamantly against any reduction of her sentence.
In this context, the best outcome that I thought possible was for Maria Teresa’s sentence to be reduced to time served. I was therefore overjoyed to find out that the judge ruled that the evidence in the case did not support her conviction. After five years of hardship for Maria Teresa and her family, justice has finally been served! As the Citizens’ Group stated, this outcome was the result of the actions taken by thousands of people around the world.
In reaction to the judge’s decision, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, said that Maria Teresa’s “release must be a catalyst for change in El Salvador, where dozens of women are put in prison because of an utterly ridiculous anti-abortion law which does nothing but put the lives of thousands of women and girls in danger.”
One such woman is Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, who was a focus case for Amnesty International’s 2015 Write for Rights campaign. After Teodora called for medical help because she felt severe pain, she went into labor and lost consciousness. When she woke up, she was bleeding heavily and her baby was dead and she was arrested for murder. In 2008, she was sentenced to 30 years in prison for “aggravated homicide” following a trial that Amnesty International has determined was unfair.
Please urge El Salvador’s Minister of Justice to Call on the Minister of Justice to release Teodora, and immediately and impartially review the sentences of all women still in jail for pregnancy-related issues:
Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde
Ministro de Justicia y Seguridad Pública
17 Avenida Norte, Complejo Plan Maestro, Edificio B1, nivel 1
Alamenda Juan Pablo II
San Salvador, El Salvador
Fax +503 2281 5959
Email: [email protected]
Please also urge El Salvador’s Legislative Assembly to reverse the total ban on abortions that has endangered the lives of thousands of women and girls and resulted in the unjust imprisonment of women such as Teodora and Maria Teresa:
Members of the Legislative Assembly
Apartado postal 1852
Correos de El Salvador-Centro de Gobierno
San Salvador, El Salvador