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El Salvador[1] [print]

Last edited: November 2005

 

Summary and Analysis

 

El Salvador maintains a robust child welfare system operated primarily by two government agencies: the Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents (el Instituto Salvadoreño para el Desarollo Integral de la Niñez y la Adolescencia or ISNA), and the Office of the Procurator-General of the Republic (La Procuraduría General de la República).  The ISNA is essentially the national child welfare agency, and is responsible for designing, adopting and monitoring the child welfare programs in El Salvador.  The Office of the Procurator-General of the Republic is the main government body that provides legal representation to children in matters of child welfare and juvenile justice (as mandated by the Constitution).[2]

 

Salvadoran law supports and empowers the voice of minors in child welfare proceedings.  The Family Code affords children the right to be heard in all matters affecting them,[3] and guarantees minors the right to free legal assistance in all administrative and judicial proceedings.[4]  The Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents Law requires the Office of the Procurator-General to provide children with attorneys in these matters.[5]  While the law does not appear to require lawyers to express the wishes of the child, it does mandate them to provide representation consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (which presumably includes Article 12 principles).[6]  Moreover, the Family Court Procedure Act requires family court judges to listen to minors older than 12 and encourages them to hear the voices of those aged 12 and younger.[7]  Advocates report that in practice judges do engage in dialogue with children, the extent of which varies based on the age and maturity level of the minor.

 

El Salvador ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, which maintains official legal force.[8]  Furthermore, other El Salvador laws incorporate CRC principles.[9]  The Family Code, for example, expressly recognizes the principle of the best interests of the child—stating that a main goal of the Salvadoran child welfare system is to promote the “child's physical, psychological, moral, and social development with a view to ensuring the full and harmonious development of his or her personality."[10]

 

Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)

 

Original Text

 

International Law

 

Convención Sobre los Derechos del Niño[11], ratificada en el Decreto 487 [Ver abajo].

 

Artículo 12

1. Los Estados Partes garantizarán al niño que esté en condiciones de formarse un juicio propio el derecho de expresar su opinión libremente en todos los asuntos que afectan al niño, teniéndose debidamente en cuenta las opiniones del niño, en función de la edad y madurez del niño.

2. Con tal fin, se dará en particular al niño oportunidad de ser escuchado, en todo procedimiento judicial o administrativo que afecte al niño, ya sea directamente o por medio de un representante o de un órgano apropiado, en consonancia con las normas de procedimiento de la ley nacional.

 

Statutes

 

Constitución de la República (1962), Art. 100, Párrafo 1.[12]

Corresponde al Procurador General de Pobres:
Velar por la defensa de las personas e intereses de los menores y demás incapaces.

 

Código de Familia, Art. 223.[13]

El padre y la madre que ejercieren la autoridad parental, representarán a sus hijos menores o incapaces y velarán por la conservación o defensa de los que hubieren concebido. El padre o la madre a quien se hubiere confiado mediante resolución judicial el cuidado personal del hijo, tendrá exclusivamente la representación legal del mismo.

Se exceptúan de tal representación:
1) Los actos relativos a derechos de la personalidad y otros que el hijo, de acuerdo con la ley y las condiciones de su madurez, pueda realizar por sí mismo;
2) Los actos relativos a bienes excluidos de la administración de los padres; y,
3) Cuando existieren intereses contrapuestos entre uno o ambos padres y el hijo.

Código de Familia, Art. 224.[14]

El Procurador General de la República tendrá la representación legal de los menores huérfanos de padre y madre o de filiación desconocida, o abandonados, de los mayores incapaces, de los hijos que por causas legales hubieren salido de la autoridad parental y de los que por cualquier motivo carecieren de representante legal, mientras no se les provea de tutor. También la tendrá en el caso del ordinal 3o. del artículo anterior.

 

Código de Familia, Art. 350.[15]

En la interpretación y aplicación de este régimen prevalecerá el interés superior del menor.  Se entiende por interés superior del menor todo aquello que favorezca su desarrollo físico, psicológico, moral y social para lograr el pleno y armonioso desenvolvimiento de su personalidad. Con base en ese interés, el menor tendrá prioridad para recibir protección y socorro en toda circunstancia.

 

Código de Familia, Art. 351, Párrafo 9.[16]

Todo menor tiene derecho:

A Ser escuchado por sus padres, tutores o responsables de él, y a expresar su opinión libremente en todos los asuntos que le afecten, la que se tendrá en cuenta tanto en las decisiones familiares como en los procedimientos administrativos y judiciales.

 

Código de Familia, Art. 351, Párrafo 21.[17]

Todo menor tiene derecho:

A recibir asistencia legal gratuita en todo trámite administrativo o judicial y a que sus padres participen en los mismos, a efecto de garantizar eficazmente el ejercicio de sus derechos.

 

Ley Procesal de Familia, Art. 7(j).[18]

El Juez está obligado a:

Oír al menor cuando hubiere cumplido doce años de edad, en todos los procesos y diligencias que le afecten; antes de dicha edad, el Juez tendrá contacto con el menor y de ser posible dialogará con él.

 

Ley del Instituto Salvadoreño para el Desarollo Integral de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Art. 3.[19]

La protección integral del menor se fundamenta en los derechos que a su favor establecen la Constitución de la República, la Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño, la legislación protectora de la familia y menores, en los principios rectores del Derecho de Menores y de Familia, así como en las Políticas estatales de protección al menor y promoción familiar.

 

Ley del Instituto Salvadoreño para el Desarollo Integral de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Art. 31.[20]

En cada sede administrativa del Instituto habrá Procuradores de Menores adscritos a la División de Admisión, Evaluación y Diagnóstico y a las delegaciones. Serán nombrados por el Procurador General de la República y ejercerán la asistencia legal de los menores.

Ley del Instituto Salvadoreño para el Desarollo Integral de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Art. 32.[21]

Son atribuciones de los Procuradores de Menores:
a) Velar por la eficiente aplicación de las normas de protección al menor y por el cumplimiento de las disposiciones contenidas en la Constitución, Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño y demás leyes de protección al menor;
b) Intervenir como parte en los procedimientos administrativos que al Instituto le compete de conformidad a esta ley, para hacer valer los derechos de los menores; y
c) las demás que les fije la ley o los reglamentos.

 

Translation[22]

 

International Law

 

Convention on the Rights of the Child, [23] ratified by Decree 487 [See below].

 

Article 12

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

 

Statutes

 

Constitution of the Republic (1962) Art. 100, Paragraph 1.

Corresponding to the Attorney General for the Poor:

To look after the defense of persons and interests of minors and the otherwise incapacitated.

 

Family Code, Art. 223.

The father and mother who exercise parental authority shall represent their minor children or incapacitated children and shall watch over the conservation or defense of those they have conceived.  The father or mother to whom has been trusted the personal care of the child through shall exclusively provide the legal representation.

 

Exceptions to such representation:

1) The acts related to rights of personality and others which the child, in accordance with the law and conditions of his maturity, can realize himself;

2) The acts related to goods excluded from the administration of parents; and,

3) When countervailing interests between both parents and child exist.

 

Family Code, Art. 224.

The Attorney General of the Republic shall provide legal representation to minors who are orphans, whose affiliations are unknown, or who are abandoned, to minors who are incapacitated, to children who had to depart from parental authority for legal reasons, and to those for whatever reason lack a legal representative, as long as they are not given a guardian.  Also they shall have legal representation in the case of ordinal 3 of the previous article.

 

Family Code, Art. 350.

In the interpretation and implementation of these provisions, the best interests of the

child shall prevail. By the best interests of the child is meant everything that promotes the child's physical, psychological, moral and social development with a view to ensuring the full and harmonious development of his or her personality. Based on his or her best interests, the child shall have priority in receiving protection and help in all circumstances.

 

Family Code, Art. 351, Paragraph 9.

All minors have the right to:

To be heard by his or her parents, guardians or other persons in a position of responsibility, and to express his or her views freely on all matters affecting him or her; the views thus expressed shall be taken into account in family decisions and in administrative and judicial proceedings.

 

Family Code, Art. 351, Paragraph 21.

All minors have the right to:

To receive free legal assistance in all administrative and judicial procedures and to have their parents participate in those procedures, in order to efficiently guarantee the exercise of their rights. 

 

Family Court Procedure Act, Art. 7(j).

Judges are obligated to:

Hear a minor over 12 years of age in all actions and proceedings affecting him or her; below that age, the judge shall have contact with the minor and, if possible, engage in a dialogue with him or her.

 

Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents Law, Art. 3.

The integral protection of minors is based on their rights established in the Constitution of the Republic, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, legislation that protects families and minors, on the principal rulings of the Rights of Minors and Families, as in the political states of the protection of minors and the promotion of families.

 

Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents Law, Art. 31.

In each administrative headquarters of the Institute there shall be Attorneys for Minors assigned to the Division of Admission, Evaluation and Diagnostics, and to their delegations.  They shall be named by the Attorney General for the Republic and shall provide legal assistance to minors.

 

Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents Law, Art. 32.

The duties of the Attorneys for Minors are:

a) To look after the efficient application of the norms of protection of minors and for the achievement of the provisions contained in the Constitution, Convention on the Rights of the Child and other laws protecting minors.

b) To intervene like a party in the administrative proceedings in which the Institute is concerned in agreement with this law, in order to assert the rights of minors; and

c) the others that the law or regulations establish.

 

Local Contact Information

 

Mr. Nelson Vaquerano

Fundacion de Estudios para la Aplicacion del Derecho (FESPAD)

http://fespad.org.sv/portal/html/index.php

(503) 2-236-1888

 

Additional Resources and Links

 

Office of the Procurator-General of the Republic

http://www.pgr.gob.sv/

Tel: 503-281-0800

 

Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents

http://www.isna.gob.sv/

Tel: 503-213-4702

Fax: 503-270-1348

Email: direccion@isna.gob.sv

 

Legislative Assembly website (for access to Salvadoran laws and regulations)

http://www.asamblea.gob.sv/

 



Endnotes

[1] This page is also available as a .pdf Document, and Word Document.

[2] Constitución de la República (1962), Art. 100, Párrafo 1 [Constitution of the Republic (1983) Art. 100, Paragraph 1] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[3] Código de Familia, Art. 351, Párrafo 9 [Family Code, Art. 351, Paragraph 9] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[4] Código de Familia, Art. 351, Párrafo 21 [Family Code, Art. 351, Paragraph 21] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[5] Ley del Instituto Salvadoreño para el Desarollo Integral de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Art. 32 [Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents Law, Art. 32] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[6] Ley del Instituto Salvadoreño para el Desarollo Integral de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Art. 32 [Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents Law, Art. 32] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[7] Ley Procesal de Familia, Art. 7(j) [Family Court Procedure Act, Art. 7(j)] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[8]  Decree 487 available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[9] Ley del Instituto Salvadoreño para el Desarollo Integral de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Art. 3 [Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents Law, Art. 3] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[10] Código de Familia, Art. 350 [Family Code, Art. 350] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[11] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989).  Also see Decree 487 available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[12] Constitución de la República (1962), Art. 100, Párrafo 1 [Constitution of the Republic (1983) Art. 100, Paragraph 1] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[13] Código de Familia, Art. 223, [Family Code, Art. 223] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[14] Código de Familia, Art. 224, [Family Code, Art. 224] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[15] Código de Familia, Art. 350, [Family Code, Art. 350] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[16] Código de Familia, Art. 351, Párrafo 9 [Family Code, Art. 351, Paragraph 9] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[17] Código de Familia, Art. 351, Párrafo 21 [Family Code, Art. 351, Paragraph 21] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[18] Ley Procesal de Familia, Art. 7(j) [Family Court Procedure Act, Art. 7(j)] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[19] Ley del Instituto Salvadoreño para el Desarollo Integral de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Art. 3 [Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents Law, Art. 3] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[20] Ley del Instituto Salvadoreño para el Desarollo Integral de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Art. 31 [Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents Law, Art. 31] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[21] Ley del Instituto Salvadoreño para el Desarollo Integral de la Niñez y la Adolescencia, Art. 32 [Salvadoran Institute for the Integral Development of Children and Adolescents Law, Art. 32] available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

[22] All translations are unofficial.

[23] G.A. Res. 44/125, U.N. GAOR, 44th Session, Supp. No. 49, U.N. Doc. A/44/736 (1989). Also see Decree 487 available here, and also as .pdf Document, and also as Word Document.

 

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