El Salvador: violation of woman's rights who had abortion and died in prison, court rules

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that El Salvador had violated the rights of a woman who was sent to prison for breaching the country's tough abortion laws and died while serving her 30-year sentence.

An El Salvador court sentenced the woman only identified as Manuela in 2008 for aggravated homicide after she suffered what the human rights court called an obstetric emergency that led to the death of her unborn child. While serving her sentence, Manuela was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In 2010, she died at the age of 33 because she received medical care “late” and “irregularly”, the court said in its ruling.

“The Inter-American Court declared the State of El Salvador internationally responsible for violations of personal liberty, judicial guarantees, equality before the law, the right to life, personal integrity, private life, and health, in detriment to Manuela,” the court ruled.

Morena Herrera, a human rights activist at the Colectiva Feminista women’s rights group, called Manuela “one more victim of an unjust legal context that has its origin in the absolute prohibition of abortion that has affected mainly women, adolescents and girls living in poverty”.