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OGP Steering Committee Statement on El Salvador

Comunicado del Comité Directivo de OGP sobre El Salvador

The members of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee express their deep concern regarding the dismissal of all five magistrates from El Salvador’s Constitutional Chamber and the Attorney General on May 1, 2021. The international community[1], including many governments and civil society members of the OGP Steering Committee, as well as other international partner organizations have also expressed their grave concern regarding these events that undermine the rule of law and separation of powers in El Salvador.

The members of the OGP Steering Committee are particularly concerned about the events expressed by Salvadoran civil society organizations (CSOs) regarding the closing of civic space. These concerns are exacerbated by the overall declining trend of civil liberties and ongoing democratic regression in the country as pointed out by reputable sources[2]. Allegations of threats to and intimidation of civil society and activists have been raised in the past few months.

We note the position of the Government of El Salvador regarding these allegations as outlined in its formal response provided to this Steering Committee on May 14, 2021. We fully recognize that both President Nayib Bukele and the Members of the newly constituted Congress have come into office by way of free and democratic elections.

All participating members of the OGP commit, through the Open Government Declaration, to “protecting the ability of not-for-profit and civil society organizations to operate in ways consistent with our commitment to freedom of expression, association, and opinion” and to “creating mechanisms to enable greater collaboration between governments and civil society organizations and businesses”. Upholding the values enshrined in the Declaration is crucial for a credible open government agenda.

Additionally, we note that as a member of the OGP, the Government of El Salvador has not made meaningful progress on the commitments made in its 2018-2020 action plan, particularly as the Government has not convened a dialogue with civil society nor begun the co-creation of a new action plan. We value El Salvador’s participation in the OGP. The OGP Articles of Governance state that to continue to participate in OGP, governments must meet a minimum performance criteria on key dimensions of open government. El Salvador has currently fallen below the minimum eligibility criteria since 2020. In line with the Articles of Governance, we encourage El Salvador to take the necessary steps to raise above the minimum eligibility criteria by July 31, 2021 to avoid being placed under Procedural Review.[3]

The members of the OGP Steering Committee call on the Government of El Salvador to urgently reestablish conditions that allow for true dialogue between the government and civil society, and invite Salvadoran stakeholders to utilize the OGP process and forthcoming action plan to co-create and implement democratic reforms that protect civic space, the freedom of the press, and strengthen democracy in El Salvador.

The OGP stands ready to provide the necessary support to stakeholders in El Salvador, including facilitating dialogue and a productive collaboration between the government and civil society to solve these challenges.

Endorsed by:

  • Government of Canada
  • Government of France
  • Government of Germany
  • Government of Italy
  • Government of Kenya
  • Government of Nigeria
  • Government of Romania
  • Maria Baron, Directorio Legislativo
  • Helen Darbishire, Access Info Europe
  • Aidan Eyakuze, Twaweza
  • Delia Ferreira Rubio, Transparency International
  • Blair Glencorse, Accountability Lab
  • Robin Hodess, The B Team
  • Lysa John, CIVICUS
  • Lucy McTernan, University of York
  • Stephanie Muchai, Hivos
  • Olena Pavlenko, DiXi Group (substitute for Elisa Peter, Publish What You Pay)
  • Zuzana Wienk, White Crow
  • Anabel Cruz, ICD Uruguay
  • Oluseun Onigbinde, BudgIT

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About OGP:

In 2011, government leaders and civil society advocates came together to create a unique partnership—one that combines these powerful forces to promote accountable, responsive and inclusive governance.

Seventy-eight countries and a growing number of local governments—representing more than two billion people—along with thousands of civil society organizations are members of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

For questions or to set up interviews please contact communications@opengovpartnership.org.

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[1] See related statements by the Secretary Generals of the OAS and the UN, United States, Canada, Germany, United KingdomEU, TI, UNHCHR

[2] See Democracy Report 2021 by Varieties of Democracy, and Democracy Index 2020 by the Economist Intelligence Unit where El Salvador’s downgrade from a “flawed democracy” to a “hybrid regime”

[3] See letter sent to the Government of El Salvador informing of this occurrence (August 10, 2020)

Filed Under: Civic Space

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