Federal Government Human Rights Commissioner Bärbel Kofler issued the following statement today (19 February) on Teodora del Carmen Vásquez’s release:
I welcome the release of Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, who, after more than ten years behind bars, has finally been able to leave the Ilogango women’s prison.
The commutation decreed by the Salvadorian Supreme Court and Ministry of Justice, which led to Teodora del Carmen Vásquez’s release, is an important albeit late victory for the rule of law and human rights in El Salvador.
I hope that the cases of the remaining “Las 17” women will also soon be subject to critical rule of law scrutiny in which the human right to a fair trial, the principle of presumption of innocence and the proportionality of the penalties imposed are taken into account.
The Federal Government will continue its efforts to strengthen the rule of law and human rights in El Salvador and is promoting a human rights project supporting the “Las 17” women. In so doing, it intends to support those social forces that are committed to an unbiased discussion on women’s rights.
I wish Teodora del Carmen a happy reunion with her family and every success for her future.
Teodora del Carmen Vásquez, 34, was released from the Ilopango women’s prison in San Salvador on 15 February 2018 after over ten years behind bars. She belongs to the “Las 17” women, who were arrested by the Salvadorian judiciary for alleged abortions and subsequently handed long sentences of imprisonment of up to 30 years for charges of infanticide.
Human rights organisations believe that 28 women are currently in jail for this reason. Teodora del Carmen Vásquez was handed a 30 year sentence in 2007 for the alleged murder of her newborn child. Witness statements, medical reports and further evidence documenting that Teodora del Carmen Vásquez had suffered a miscarriage were not considered by the Salvadorian judiciary at the time. A Salvadorian court of appeal confirmed the ruling in December last year. Her recent release was made possible by a commutation decreed by the Supreme Court and the Minister of Justice, which drew attention to numerous shortcomings in criminal proceedings against Teodora del Carmen Vásquez at the time.