Inter-American Commission on Human Rights files case of Manuela vs. El Salvador before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

News Type

Primary Content

Bogotá, New York, San Salvador (PRESS RELEASE) -- The Center for Reproductive Rights and its local partner in El Salvador, Agrupación Ciudadana para la Despenalización del Aborto, celebrate the decision taken by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to file the case Manuela v. El Salvador before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. 

Manuela’s case--a Salvadoran woman who was unjustly sentenced to 30 years in prison after suffering an obstetric emergency, and who later died from Hodgkin's lymphoma because she was not given medical treatment--was initially filed on March 21st, 2012 by the Center for Reproductive Rights and Agrupación Ciudadana before the IACHR on behalf of Manuela’s family.

The case will allow the Court to create standards which all States within the InterAmerican System on Human Rights have to comply with to guarantee the right to life, and the right to health of women, including those imprisoned. The case should establish precedent as how to conduct investigations and fair trials against women. The case must also bring reparations to Manuela’s family and sanctions to El Salvador for its incapacity to comply with international obligations to guarantee women’s reproductive rights. 

“The filing of this case before the Court is a victory of the Civil Society that works to promote sexual and reproductive rights. Manuela’s case represents barriers that women face to guarantee their rights and it is an example of the different types of discrimination that women suffer by health and justice operators that promote gender-based stereotypes that prevent them to be treated with equality and quality in El Salvador”, said Catalina Martínez Coral, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

“We hope that this case will bring justice to Manuela, her sons and her family in El Salvador. We wish that the Inter-American System of Human Rights restore the pride that Manuela’s son must have of their mother, that she is recognized as a victim and not as a murderer. We hope that reparation can restore the damage caused on them and that this will bring help to other young and poor women that are in jail for crimes they did not commit. We hope that the unlawful law will be changed”, said Morena Herrera, President of Agrupación Ciudadana. 

Manuela v. El Salvador represents the challenges faced by women in El Salvador due to the total ban of abortion, one of the most restrictive legislations in the world. For nearly two decades, El Salvador has criminalized abortion in all circumstances—even when necessary to save a woman’s life—imposing harsh criminal penalties on both women and physicians. The ban has resulted in the imprisonment of countless women who have suffered pregnancy-related complications and miscarriages, who are then charged for having an abortion and wrongfully convicted of homicide.

You can learn more about Manuela here:




Geraldine Henrich-Koenis