On Friday, June 24, 2011, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a press release condemning the murder of CAC (Environmental Committee of Cabañas) activist and human rights defender Juan Francisco Durán Ayala. The release goes on to urge the state of El Salvador to “investigate and legally clarify this crime,” and to “immediately and urgently adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity, and security of environmentalists in the country.”
The release reviews the recent history of anti-environmentalist violence in Cabañas and stresses that the increasing intimidation faced by human rights activists represents a serious threat to their work. The IACHR reaffirms the importance of the “leading role” done by human rights activists “in the process to fully implement the rule of law and to strengthen democracy.”
Front Line, the International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, has also issued a call for a response to Ayala’s murder. They request a thorough investigation into Ayala’s death and security measures for other members of civil society in Cabañas. The Front Line website features a letter addressed to President Funes and ask that supporters print it and mail it to the President’s address (also listed on the website).
CISPES, the Committee in Solidarity with El Salvador, condemned the murder as well and lists phone numbers and email addresses for the Attorney General, Romeo Barahona, asking that people call or email to request an investigation. Officials have done little in response to Juan Francisco’s murder, and the international community’s calls for an investigation are an important step in international acknowledgement of both the dangerous reality for many activists in Cabañas and the culture of impunity that surrounds the violence.