Hector Berríos, a community activist and human rights lawyer in Cabañas, a department of El Salvador, received death threats by phone on 23 January. Amnesty International believes he is being targeted for his human rights work, and is at risk.
On 23 January, at 12.20 pm Hector Berríos received a phone call on his landline from an unknown man who claimed to be a friend, and asked where Hector was. Around a minute later, the same person called Hector Berríos’ mobile phone, saying that they had been paid a lot of money to kill him, or a member of his family “Nos han pagado mucho dinero para asesinarte…ya sea a vos o a uno de tu familia”. The man continued by saying “We have been watching you in San Isidro and Mejicanos, we have got you close, look, we know you work for the people” (“…Te hemos estado observando en San Isidro y Mejicanos, te tenemos cerca, mira sabemos que trabajas para la gente…”). The caller made an offer to Hector Berríos: if Hector withdrew from his work, they would not kill him. At this point Hector Berríos put the phone down.
The previous day, on 22 January, starting at 10.00 pm Hector Berríos received ten anonymous phone calls. He has not received further calls.
Hector Berríos' activism in his community has resulted in threats and intimidation before, due to his campaigns against mining, impunity and his legal defence of human rights activists. Hector Berríos has received threats on previous occasions. On 7 October 2009, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) ruled that El Salvador should provide protection to Hector Berríos. However, despite the demands from the IACHR, Hector Berríos has not yet received appropriate protection, and remains at risk.
PLEASE ACT QUICKLY. Use Spanish or your own language to create a personal appeal.
* Urge the authorities to take immediate steps to fully comply with the IACHR order of 7 October 2009. The form of protection provided to Hector Berríos must be agreed with him and reflect his own wishes.
* Call for an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the threats against Hector Berríos, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice.
ADDRESS YOUR MESSAGES TO:
Romeo Benjamín Barahona Meléndez
Fiscal General de la República
Fiscalía General de la República
Final 4ª Calle Oriente y 19ª Avenida Sur, Residencial Primavera,
Santa Tecla, La Libertad
San Salvador, El Salvador
Fax: 011 503 2523 7409
Salutation: Estimado Sr. Fiscal / Dear Attorney General
Human Rights Director, Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
Director General de Derechos Humanos
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
Calle El Pedregal, Blvd. Cancillería
Ciudad Merliot, Antiguo Cuscatlan
Fax: 011 503 2231 1152
Salutation: Estimado Director / Dear Director
AND PLEASE SEND A COPY TO
Sra Ana Coralia Mejía de Morot-Gaudry
Chargé d'Affaires, Embassy of El Salvador
209 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1Z8
Fax: (613) 238-6940
Amnesty International has issued various Urgent Actions on the situation of human rights defenders in the Cabañas department of El Salvador in 2009 and 2010.
Gustavo Marcelo Rivera, an environmental activist, was killed on 30 June 2009. Later on that year, his brother Ramiro Rivera, a community leader who campaigned against mining in the area and against impunity in his brother’s case, survived an armed attack in August and was eventually killed in December. Also in August 2009, Héctor Antonio Garcia Berríos was warned by a man he knew that if he and Gustavo Marcelo Rivera's brother, Miguel Rivera continued campaigning for justice for the murder, their lives would be at risk. (UA 223/09 Index: AMR 29/001/2009 of 27 August 2009).
On 26 December 2009, another member of the Cabañas Environment Committee was killed. Dora Alicia Recinos Sorto, who was eight months pregnant, was shot dead, and her two-year-old child was wounded. (UA 223/09 Index: AMR 29/001/2010 Update of 4 January 2010).
Optional action: You may wish to sign the Stop Secret Trials in Canada petition at http://www.harkatstatement.
If you’re between 15 and 25 and interested in attending Amnesty’s Human Rights College and Annual Meeting in Montreal from May 25-29, request the application form.
Urgent Action Office Amnesty International Canada
1992 Yonge St, 3rd floor Toronto, Ontario M4S 1Z7
(416) 363 9933 ext 325 / Fax (416) 363 3103 / About the Urgent Action Network