San Salvador (AFP)
A young Salvadoran woman, Evelyn Hernandez, was acquitted on Monday of the murder of her stillborn baby, but the legislative and judicial arsenal that severely represses abortion remains intact in El Salvador.
Evelyn Hernandez, who was 30-50 years in prison for negligent homicide after neglecting her baby, was acquitted on Monday for lack of evidence.
"I am happy," said the 21-year-old, leaving the court in Ciudad Delgado, northeast of San Salvador, the capital.
"The judge was fair enough: he said that there was no way to prove the offense, and that is why he pronounced the acquittal. "a difficult delivery," said Bertha Maria Deleon, lawyer Evelyn Hernandez.
A hundred women gathered in front of the courthouse let their joy burst out at the announcement of the decision: "Attention, attention, the feminist struggle advances in Latin America," they chanted.
- "Thanks to God, justice has been done" -
"Thanks to God, justice has been done, and I thank you all who have come here," Evelyn Hernandez told the demonstrators.
The prosecution had claimed against the young woman a 40-year prison sentence for homicide aggravated by negligence. The prosecution can appeal the judgment within ten days. The prosecution representatives left the court without making any statements.
"All the time spent (in prison) has been hard," said the young woman, who stayed behind bars for 33 months after a first sentence of 30 years in prison in July 2017. The first judgment was overturned in February by the Supreme Court, and Evelyn Hernandez had been released.
The case dates back to April 6, 2016, when the young woman, then teenager, gives birth to a baby in a toilet. Transferred to the hospital of the city of Cojutepeque (center), she is arrested and accused of homicide. Evelyn Hernandez has always protested her innocence and assured that her baby was stillborn.
Initially it was reported that Evelyn Hernandez was pregnant after a rape, but her lawyer then explained, without giving more details, prefer not to mention these circumstances at the request of the young woman who lives in a neighborhood. gang-controlled and may be subject to retaliation.
- "discriminatory practice" -
"This proves that the offense did not exist, that there was no need to prosecute," said Arnau Baulenas lawyer at the end of the court of the Central American Jesuit University IDHUCA. The lawyer, who was part of the defense team, lamented that many women are being prosecuted in El Salvador "because of religious beliefs" rather than for legal reasons.
Amnesty International welcomed in a statement "a stunning victory for women's rights in El Salvador": "No woman should be unfairly accused of homicide for the simple fact of being confronted with an obstetric emergency".
"Now that Evelyn has been acquitted, Amnesty International calls on El Salvador to put an end once and for all to the shameful discriminatory practice criminalizing women, and to immediately abolish the draconian rules against abortion," the defense organization adds. human rights.
In fact, the Salvadoran Penal Code still provides for a sentence of between two and eight years in prison for abortion cases. Moreover, in fact, the judges consider any loss of the baby as an "aggravated homicide", punishable by 30 to 50 years of imprisonment.
Currently, 16 women are in prison in El Salvador for abortions. In recent months, five women sentenced for similar cases have been released.
© 2019 AFP