San Salvador, Aug 29 (EFE) – Some 35 photographs of disappeared people were displayed Tuesday in one of the main squares of El Salvador’s capital, as part of an action to call on the country’s judicial authorities to shed light on their cases.
The activity was organized by members of the NGO Missing Persons Search Bloc in El Salvador, as part of the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, held each year on August 30.
Among the images is that of the young William Antonio Garcia, who disappeared in September 2018 and whose whereabouts are still unknown.
“The day he disappeared, four people came to my house to talk to him (…) he left the house for work and never came back,” says Jorge Garia, the victim’s 65-year-old father.
He explained to EFE that he had gone to “several” state institutions, including the Public Prosecutor’s Office, to look for his son, but had received no answers.
The young man was 25 years old when he disappeared and worked in agriculture, according to his father.
“I have been to hospitals, the forensic medicine department, the police, the prosecutor’s office and the human rights office (…) I have been everywhere and nothing happens,” he said.
Garcia asked the authorities “to listen to their consciences and help us, because we must overcome this despair.”
“My hope is to find him, dead or alive. If he’s alive, I’ll receive my son, embrace him and celebrate the Word of God, and if he’s dead, I’ll give him a proper burial,” he added.
CALLS FOR INCREASED AGENCY FUNDING
The Missing Persons Search Bloc, currently made up of relatives of the disappeared and members of eight human rights organizations, was created in 2022 by 27 mothers who decided to organize to support the search for disappeared civilians.
At a press conference, Silvia Juarez, of the Organization of Salvadoran Women for Peace (ORMUSA) that supports the bloc, demanded that “more resources” be allocated to the institutions in charge of investigations so they can “fully exercise their powers” and “respond to the demands of the victims”.
They also called on the Legislative Assembly to expedite the approval of a law that enforces the search for victims and focuses on “prevention, investigation, justice, comprehensive reparation and guarantees of non-repetition.”
According to data from the Missing Persons Bloc, between 2019 and June 2022, 6,443 cases of disappeared persons were registered.
Between January and March 2023, 132 people were declared missing, according to the National Civil Police, an increase of 28.2% from 103 cases in the first quarter of 2022.
According to some civil society organizations, the numbers could be higher due to inconsistencies in official reports and the failure of Nayib Bukele’s government to participate of the Inter-American Convention on Enforced Disappearances and the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons. EFE