Salvadoran lawyers and human rights groups fear new sworn lawmakers have dealt an irreparable blow to the country’s young and fragile democracy. The legislators removed the officers From the main office on the weekends.
Removal of the country’s Attorney General and Constitutional Court Judges President Naib Buckley has removed the remaining two checks on the administration’s powers. Consolidation of control of democratic institutions Since he took charge in June 2016.
Salvadoran human rights defender Celia Madarano said it also hinted that the government “wants to keep itself in power and defeat any opposition”.
In a country that is still recovering from a 12-year-long civil war that ended in 1992 and killed 755,000 people, Saturday’s parliamentary vote evokes old memories of the era of repression and human rights abuses and serves as a reminder of its fragility.
“Everything indicates that in terms of democracy it will be a long period of darkness in the country,” Madrano told Al Jazeera.
‘Set an example’
Buckley won the presidency in 2012 The anti-corruption platform that appealed To the voters who are annoyed with the two traditional parties of the country, the leftist FMLN and the right wing ARNA. But without the support of the country’s legislators, most of his proposals were blocked in the first two years.
Many institutions, including the Constitutional Court, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Lokpal, acted as investigators of his powers.
Buchel’s party in February, New Ideas or New Ideas, Out of 6 seats, 5 won seats When lawmakers took power in the National Assembly in May after an overwhelming show of voter support, they moved to remove five Constitutional Court judges as well as Attorney General Raul Melara – and move unconstitutionally, according to lawyers.
Five judges have already been appointed to the court by the new parliament. The three dismissed judges formally resigned citing personal reasons, but not before declaring their removal unconstitutional.
“The legislature is setting an example. They are telling all the other officials: ‘If you question the president’s point of view, you too can be removed,’ “said Manuel Escalant, a lawyer at the Institute of Human Rights at Central American University (IDHUCA).
Buckley and his supporters defended the steps necessary to liberate the country from the corrupt officials of the past administration. “People did not send us for talks. They’re all leaving, ”Buckley said Tweeted May 3.
Also turned on Twitter, Suezi Klejas Estrada, one of the legislators of Nuvas Ideas who led the initiative, defended the decision as constitutional, citing three paragraphs to support his argument.
Yet legal experts have refuted this interpretation of the Constitution, which established a process for removing officials from office, but legal experts have not only met limited conditions.
Officers may be removed from office “for specific reasons previously established by law” and must follow the process of examining new candidates to fill newly vacant positions. According to Esclant, the new legislators have bypassed an ad hoc process.
“The explanation given by the assembly on Saturday was not a legal one,” he said. “Instead, what they said was because they were dissatisfied with the Constitutional Court [the justices] Did not agree with the President’s constitutional interpretation. ”
Escalant added: “Their actions convey the message that he is the only president who can properly interpret the constitution.”
Furthermore, the timing of the removal of the Attorney General suggests a political motive, according to Metrano. “It is important to note that the removal of the Attorney General came at a time when he was investigating serious acts of corruption and links to the current government’s linked crimes,” he told Al Jazeera.
The president’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
International human rights groups and U.S. officials immediately condemned El Salvador’s move.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris who Beadon is leading the administration’s efforts Speaking about working with Mexico and Central American countries to prevent migration, the administration said it has deep concerns about the incident. “An independent judiciary is important for a healthy democracy – and for a strong economy,” he tweeted on May 2.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken echoed those concerns in a call with Buccaneer on Sunday, the State Department said in a statement, adding that the country’s development agency, USAID, said an independent judiciary was a “necessary prerequisite for fighting corruption and attracting investment.”
Buckley, however, rejected these criticisms.
“To our friends in the international community: We want to work with you, do business, travel and get to know us and help as much as we can. Our doors are more open than ever, but with due respect: we’re cleaning our house… and it’s not your business, “he tweeted on Saturday.
Our friends from the international community:
We want to work with you, trade, travel, get to know each other and help wherever we can.
Our doors are more open than ever
But with all due respect:
We are cleaning our house.
… and it’s not your business.
– নেব বুকেলে 🇸🇻 (@ নএববুকেলে) May 2, 2021
El Salvador’s constitutional crisis has come as the Biden administration has promised to prioritize the strongest democratic institutions in Central America.
“There’s a pretty clear message coming from the United States, and I think it’s important,” said Geoff Thall, president of Latin America (WLA) at the Washington office, a nonprofit that promotes human rights in the region. “But now we have to think about their actions.”
Allowing corrupt government officials and Buchel’s interests – appealing to trade and the economy – are two possible ways that the United States can pursue its commitment to democracy, Thel told Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile, Salvadoran lawyers and human rights organizations want to challenge the recent steps are now facing a final outcome. Earlier, they could have gone to the Constitutional Court – but not anymore.
“By taking control of these institutions, they are forcing us to face a situation in which no one seeks justice or seeks to control the abuse of power from the executive branch,” Escalant said.