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MEDEL fully supports the statement of JJpD on the situation in El Salvador

MEDELMEDEL fully supports the statement issued on 5 May 2021 by its member association "Juezas y Jueces para la Democracia" on the situation of El Salvador and calls on the Salvadoran authorities to respect the independence of the Judiciary and the Rule of Law.

Translation to English of the statement:
 
"In view of the latest events unfolding in El Salvador, especially those related to the dismissal by the recently constituted Legislative Assembly of the judges who make up the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice, the association JUezas y Jueces para la Democracia wishes to express its deep concern.
 
This is undoubtedly a serious blow to the Salvadoran constitutional system and a step further down the slope of authoritarianism and contempt for democratic rules and institutional guarantees that has characterised the mandate of President Nayib Bukele since its inception.
 
Using the simple argument of a majority mandate, the Assembly, instrumentalised by President Bukele, abusing the power of appointment and dismissal of the members of the Supreme Court attributed to it by the 1983 Constitution, has not only deactivated one of the most decisive constitutional counterweights, but has also reduced the principle of judicial independence to rubble, sending a clear and undisguised warning to all judges who make up the Salvadoran judiciary of the consequences that may arise from the independent and constitutionally oriented exercise of jurisdiction.
 
The dismissal of our colleagues, given the manner in which it has taken place and the reasons given - having fulfilled their function of controlling the constitutionality of the presidential decrees - also represents a sharp and irreducible break with the San José Convention and the limits which, as specific guarantees of the primacy of fundamental rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has been outlining against the abuse of power by State authorities.
 
In effect, the Salvadoran Assembly's decision, promoted by President Bukele, directly contradicts the Inter-American Court's doctrine on judicial independence as an institutional guarantee of the rule of law itself. As it has repeatedly stated, "respect for judicial guarantees implies respect for judicial independence. The dimensions of judicial independence translate into the subjective right of the judge to be removed from office exclusively on the permitted grounds, by means of a process that complies with judicial guarantees, or because the term or period of his or her mandate has expired. And that when the tenure of judges is arbitrarily affected, the right to judicial independence enshrined in Article 8(1) of the American Convention is violated. (...) The autonomous exercise of the judicial function must be guaranteed by the State both in its institutional aspect, that is, in relation to the Judiciary as a system, as well as in connection with its individual aspect, that is, in relation to the person of the specific judge. The institutional dimension is related to essential aspects of the rule of law, such as the principle of separation of powers and the important role of the judiciary in a democracy. Therefore, this institutional dimension transcends the individual judge and has a collective impact on society as a whole. The free removal of judges fosters objective doubt about the effective possibility of judges to decide concrete controversies without fear of reprisals" - see Constitutional Tribunal v. Peru; Constitutional Tribunal (Camba Campos et al.) v. Ecuador; Apitz et al. v. Venezuela; Quintana Coello et al. v. Ecuador; López One et al. v. Honduras.
 
The path of constitutional democracy is the only one that can limit unbridled powers and abuses and thus guarantee respect for and promotion of fundamental rights.
 
The path taken by President Bukele, seeking to immunise the exercise of his power from all checks and balances, augurs a time of darkness and injustice at a time of particular gravity and difficulty for the Salvadoran people.
 
From Judges for Democracy, in addition to denouncing the unjustifiable actions of the Legislative Assembly and the serious attack on the 1983 Constitution that has taken place, we also want to express our support for the judges who make up the Judiciary of El Salvador in these difficult times, to whom we also send a fraternal embrace."
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