About Larry Ladutke

Larry Ladutke is the Country Specialist for El Salvador and a Co-Chair of the Central America Co-Group. He earned his Ph.D. in Political Science at the CUNY Graduate Center by writing a dissertation on the impact of human rights advocacy in postwar El Salvador. He also serves as Amnesty International's Legislative Coordinator for New Jersey.
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Why Are Human Rights Defenders Still Under Attack in El Salvador?

A Salvadorian mother lifts a portrait of her son near the Presidential House as part of a rally of relatives who lost their children during military operations in the last civil war (1980-1992) in San Salvador, El Salvador. NGO Pro-Busqueda has been working in the search of about 473 missing children (Photo Credit: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images).

A Salvadorian mother lifts a portrait of her son near the Presidential House as part of a rally of relatives who lost their children during military operations in the last civil war (1980-1992) in San Salvador, El Salvador (Photo Credit: Yuri Cortez/AFP/Getty Images).

The recent attack on the human rights defenders (HRDs) of Pro-Búsqueda brings back painful memories of wartime abuses in El Salvador.

November 16 marked the 24th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her teenage daughter at the Central American University (UCA) in 1989. This brutal attack shocked the world, creating pressure for the Salvadoran government to finally negotiate an end to the war.

Just two days before this anniversary, however, Salvadorans were given a horrible reminder of the type of wartime atrocities that they had hoped were behind them.

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Who Should Have Custody of the Testimony of El Salvador’s Victims?

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Since its founding in 1982, Salvadoran human rights victims, their families, and other witnesses have trusted their testimony to Tutela Legal, the human rights office of the Catholic Church’s Archdiocese in El Salvador. They had confidence that Church leaders such as Archbishop Rivera y Damas (who replaced Oscar Romero after his assassination in 1980) and María Julía Hernández (the long-time head of Tutela Legal) would preserve the crucial evidence they provided so that one day the criminals who committed wartime atrocities could be brought to justice. They also felt safe turning to Tutela Legal, believing that their testimony would remain confidential.

On September 30, those Salvadorans who had confided in Tutela Legal were shocked to learn that Archbishop Escobar Alas had disbanded the organization, locking the doors and dismissing the staff without prior notice. Since then, he has changed his explanation for doing so several times – but not provided any evidence to support any of his reasons.

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Honduran Government Moves to Silence Indigenous Activists

'Thank you for your solidarity' from the Civic Council of the Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) (Photo Credit: COPINH).

‘Thank you for your solidarity’ from the Civic Council of the Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) (Photo Credit: COPINH).

Last week, Amnesty issued an urgent action ahead of the September 12 hearing in Honduras against three indigenous leaders working on environmental issues: Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina.

They are all members of the Civic Council of the Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). Cáceres is the general coordinator of COPINH, and both Gómez and Molina work at a community radio station, Lencas’ Voice (La Voz Lenca). Amnesty has called the government’s charges of usurpation, coercion and continued damages against these Human Rights Defenders (HRDs)“unfounded.” These accusations are connected to COPINH’s opposition to a hydro-electric project on indigenous land.

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Help Beatriz with One More Request: Stand Up for Other Women & Girls

Beatriz ThanksAs you know, activism inside El Salvador (led by the Citizens’ Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion) and around the globe helped save Beatriz, the young Salvadoran mother whose life was jeopardized by the absolute ban on abortion in El Salvador.

We would like to share a note that Beatriz wrote to express her gratitude to all those who took part in this effort:

To my friends from the Colectivo Feminista and everywhere else:

I want to thank you for having supported me all the way, and without you I think I wouldn’t have been able to stand being in the hospital.

I also want to thank you for all the actions you took for my life.

This situation has been very difficult and without your support I wouldn’t have been able to get through it.

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Where is Honduran Journalist Anibal Barrow?

Honduran journalist Anibal Barrow (right) speaks with Honduran Presidential candidate for the Liberal Party, Mauricio Villeda, during an interview in San Pedro Sula (Photo Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images).

Honduran journalist Anibal Barrow (right) speaks with Honduran Presidential candidate for the Liberal Party, Mauricio Villeda, during an interview in San Pedro Sula (Photo Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images).

Anibal Barrow, a Honduran journalist for TV Globo, was last seen on Monday, June 24, when three armed men stopped the vehicle he was riding in with family members. The assailants released his relatives, but commandeered the car and took Barrow with them.

That was the last that Barrow’s family saw of him. They reported the abduction to the authorities, but have not received any ransom demands. All they have heard is that the car was later found with bullet holes and traces of blood. There was no sign of Anibal Barrow, however.

The lack of ransom demands, as well the gunmen’s lack of interested in the other passengers, adds to fears that Barrow was attacked because of his journalistic activities. Amnesty International reports that Barrow had recently interviewed three candidates in the nation’s upcoming elections, including a union leader, about the 4th anniversary of the 2009 coup. CNBC has reported that Anibal Barrow’s son is also running in the elections.

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Update in the Struggle to #SaveBeatriz!

Members of Amnesty International protest in front of the El Salvador embassy in Mexico City, on May 29, 2013 (Photo Credit: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images).

Members of Amnesty International protest in front of the El Salvador embassy in Mexico City, on May 29, 2013 (Photo Credit: Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images).

In collaboration with Lyric Thompson, member of Amnesty International USA’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group

On Wednesday, the Salvadoran Supreme Court of Justice issued a shameful decision in the case of Beatriz, the young Salvadoran mother we wrote about earlier. She is currently in a high risk pregnancy and suffers from lupus and related health problems. Her doctors have recommended an abortion to save her life, yet the Salvadoran government refuses to give her access to the medical treatment that she needs.

In response to this violation of her human rights, nearly 200,000 Amnesty activists from over 20 countries have called on the Salvadoran government to #SaveBeatriz.

As part of this campaign to save Beatriz, we were shocked by yesterday’s ruling by the Salvadoran Supreme Court that Beatriz’s doctors cannot proceed with the abortion they say is necessary to save her life. This decision compounds the suffering already caused by the lengthy and unnecessary delays that the Court created prior to issuing this ruling, taking over a month and a half after Beatriz’s lawyers first filed the request for protection (amparo) on April 11.

The Court itself recognized Beatriz is now entering a very risky stage with regards to her health. And yet, the Court’s decision will continue to subject Beatriz to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment by denying her the medical intervention she so urgently needs while her health continues to deteriorate.

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