Protest over privatisation of water service leads to clashes with police

Peaceful Assembly

A group of students led a protest on 14th June in the country’s capital over a draft law that they claimed will privatise the water service. The legislation seeks to grant private companies control over the national water and sanitation company of El Salvador. Protesters stated that this move will favour business and be to the detriment of the wider public. As Parliament discussed the law, demonstrators marched to the National Assembly to submit a petition rejecting the bill, but they clashed with police officers en route. The officers used tear gas to disperse the protesters, while the demonstrators responded by throwing rocks at the National Assembly, causing some damage to the infrastructure as a result. In the ensuing violence, one journalist was injured and several people were harmed by the tear gas.

Expression

On 18th April, police arrested two gang members in connection with the murder of journalist Samuel Rivas in November 2017, an incident previously reported on the Monitor. As stated in the previous update, there were suspicions that the "murder may not be linked with Rivas’ work" and this line of inquiry was confirmed after the two suspects revealed that the motive behind the murder was a test for the two to demonstrate their commitment to the gang Barrio 18.

The government of El Salvador presented the status of its implementation of the Law to Access Public Information after seven years since it came into effect. The government revealed that only one percent of the requests have been rejected and the average response time is approximately seven working days and nine out of ten requests are answered with the information in full. Nevertheless, an independent group that promotes the effective implementation of this law claims that challenges remain in protecting people’s right to access public information. These challenges include delays in the response time, incomplete information available on official websites and information classified as “confidential” that is used to restrict access to information.