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Responding department: Planning and Technical Secretariat of the Presidency; Ministry of Labour & Social Services; Consumer Protection Agency; Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources

Note: Separate responses were submitted by several government entities.  Each entity's response is clearly marked under each question.

This response was originally submitted in Spanish.  Unofficial English translation provided by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.

Has your government taken any initiatives to reduce companies’ negative impacts on human rights that you consider particularly successful?

Consumer Protection Agency:

Regarding the protection of the rights of consumers:

  • Approval of the Medicines Act, which seeks to ensure the institutional framework that would ensure the accessibility, registration, quality, availability, efficiency and safety of medicines and cosmetics for the population and promote the best price for the public and private user; and their rational use. Its governing body is the National Directorate of Medicines (Dirección Nacional de Medicamentos).
  • Approval of the Consumer Protection Act (LPC) on 18 August 2005, according to Legislative Decree No. 776, published in the Official Journal No. 166, volume 368 on 8 September 2005, and its Reforms, according to Legislative Decree No. 286 of 31 January 2013, published in the Official Journal No. 34, volume 398 on 19 February 2013, which expanded the scope of 43 articles on the protection of the economic rights of consumers.
  • The Consumer Advocate aims to protect the rights of consumers in order to achieve legal balance and certainty in its relations with suppliers. It also aims to establish the National System of Consumer Protection and the Consumer Advocate as the institution responsible for promoting and developing the protection of consumers, providing its organisation, competence and relations with State bodies and institutions and individuals, when its actions need to be coordinated.
  • The LPC is based on Article 101 of the Constitution of the Republic of El Salvador, which provides that the economic order should be based essentially on principles of social justice, in order to ensure all the country's inhabitants an existence worthy of a human being. It is the responsibility of the State to promote economic and social development by increasing production, productivity and the rational use of resources, as well as promote various sectors of production and defend the interest of consumers.
  • The Usury Act, approved by Decree No. 221, published in the Official Journal No. 16, Volume No. 398, published the 24 January 2013. This Act aims to prohibit, prevent and penalise usurious practices, in order to protect the rights of ownership and possession of people.
  • Act regulating information services on credit history of individuals, approved by Decree No. 695, Volume No. 392, issued on 27 July, 2011, and amended on 20 April, 2012. This Act aims to ensure the right to honour, personal and family privacy and self-image on the matter of the reliability, veracity, updating and good management of consumer or customer data, concerning their credit history, added to or capable of being added to a data information agency managed by a legal entity duly authorised under this Act.
  • Special Act on subdivisions and plot divisions for housing, approved by Decree No. 993, Volume No. 994, published on 7 March 2012. This Act aims to regulate the possession in good faith, marketing and transfer of ownership to any Title of the plots or pieces of land resulting from the subdivisions nationwide from the enactment of this Act, as well as establish a Transitional Regime for the regulation, legalisation and authorisation of subdivisions, constituted and marketed up until the date of entry into effect of this decree.

Ministry of Labour and Social Services:

Law on Prevention of Risks in the Workplace, approved in 2010 and brought into effect in 2012 by the Legislative Assembly. It aims to establish the occupational health and safety requirements that must be applied in workplaces in order to determine the basic framework of guarantees and responsibilities that ensure an adequate level of health and safety protection for workers from work-related risks, according to their psychological and physiological capabilities for the job, without prejudice to any special laws passed for each economic activity in particular.

What department or departments have significant responsibility for business and human rights within your government?

  • Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN): responsible for the protection of the environment and the rights of the population in this area. The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, which regulates and ensures that companies comply with environmental legislation and knows the mega projects and the processes followed in relation to the rights of populations affected.
  • Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MTPS): responsible for protecting and guaranteeing labour rights.
  • The National Inspection Department includes the Special Unit for the Prevention of Discrimination in Employment
  • Consumer Advocate (DC): with significant responsibility for protecting the rights of consumers. Its scope provides that all consumers and suppliers, whether natural persons or legal entities as regards legal instruments signed between them, on the distribution, storage, sale, commercial lease or any other type of marketing of goods or contracting of services, are subject to the LPC.
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Economy
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock
  • Ministry of Health and Social Welfare
  • Attorney General's Office (FGR)
  • National Human Rights Commission
  • National Council for Childhood and Adolescence
  • Ministry of Labour and Social Security
  • Office of the Attorney General (autonomous governing body)
  • National Counsel for the Defence of Human Rights (autonomous governing body)

Has your government undertaken new business & human rights initiatives or strengthened existing ones since the endorsement of the UN Guiding Principles in June 2011?

Types of company impacts prioritised:

  • Land rights and displacement
  • Housing
  • Tax avoidance
  • Women's rights
  • Impacts on children, including child labour
  • Indigenous groups and/or ethnic & racial minorities
  • Other: Right to political participation

Actions on land rights & displacement

The environmental courts were created in 2014.

Actions on housing

With the entry into effect of the Special Act on subdivisions and plot divisions, the implementation of a mechanism has been sought that would enable the population to obtain legal certainty on the ownership of properties which they live in, particular those marketed in rural areas mainly affecting people with limited economic resources.

Actions on tax avoidance & revenue disclosure

Tax reform.

Actions on women

Approval of the Law of Equality, Fairness, and the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Comprehensive Law for a Life Free of Violence against Women. Both have specific aspects for the work sphere.

Actions on children

Steps have been taken to eradicate child labour through the MTPS and the creation of the National Council for Childhood and Adolescence (CONNA).

Actions on indigenous peoples or ethnic/racial minorities

Constitutional reform that recognises indigenous peoples and their rights.

Other actions

Reform of the Political Parties Act, which establishes a minimum quota of 30% women in candidate lists and advances in exercising the right to vote for the transgender population so that they exercise their rights to vote with the chosen gender identity.

Ministry of Labour and Social Services:

The Ministry of Labour and Social Services has the Directorate General of Inspections, whose purpose is governed by the Law on Organisation and Functions of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. This Directorate includes the Industry and Commerce Inspection Departments, the Agricultural and Fishing Inspection Department, the Regional Labour Offices and will have a body of supervisors, inspectors and employees that the needs of the service will require. It aims at ensuring compliance with labour regulations and basic occupational health & safety rules, as a measure for preventing labour disputes and ensuring safety in the workplace. This function is fulfilled nationally.

Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources:

Actions carried out by the Ministry, with regard to protecting the right to a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, developed since 2012

  • Reform of the Law of the Environment in Arts. 2, 3, 5 and creation of a Section on Adaptation to Climate Change, in November 2012,
  • In 2012, approval of the National Environment Policy
  • In 2013 approval of National Water Resource, Environmental Health, Biodiversity and Climate Change strategies,
  • From March 2013 to 2015 formulation of the National Integrated Water Resource Management Plan in El Salvador,
  • In May 2014, approval by Legislative Assembly of the creation of environmental courts.

Has your government adopted a National Action Plan on business and human rights as encouraged by the UN Human Rights Council and UN Working Group on business & human rights, or will it do so in the future?

Ministry of Labour and Social Services:

There is a National Committee for the Elimination of the worst forms of Child Labour, which is coordinated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and in which representatives from companies and other government institutions participate.

The Technical Secretariat of the Presidency coordinates the National Labour Board, through which unions and social organisations participate and act based on compliance with labour rights.

The Ministry of Labour coordinates the Labour Council, which is a mechanism resulting from the conventions with the ILO and aims to articulate the tripartite mechanism nationally. It is currently inactive due to the Private Enterprise initiative which has not delegated its participation.

The Ministry of Labour coordinates the National Minimum Wage Council, which aims to develop actions and initiatives based on the regulation of the minimum wage; this mechanism also works in compliance with the conventions with the ILO as a tripartite consultation mechanism (Government, Businesses and Workers).

Access to remedy: What steps have been taken to develop new judicial or administrative remedies or to reduce barriers to existing remedies for victims?

Ministry of Labour and Social Services:

On Labour matters, El Salvador has effectively fulfilled Convention 144 of the International Labour Organization on Tripartite Consultation, for which various institutions have this representation: Labour Council, National Minimum Wage Council, National Institute of Social Security, National Vocational Training Institute, National Institute of Cooperative Development, etc.

In the Ministry of Labour and through the Directorate General of Inspection, any process of violation of labour rights carries a legal and penalty procedure whereby companies that act contrary to the Labour Code will have to pay workers for the breach and receive a fine too; for example, this might be for wrongful dismissals, for which companies will be obliged to pay and comply with the provisions of the law.

Consumer Protection Agency:

On the rights of consumers: through the Consumer Advocate's Dispute Resolution Centre, alternative means for resolving disputes to enable free, effective and quicker access than through the courts have been implemented to resolve consumer disputes.

Furthermore, for the fulfilment of its disciplinary powers, the Consumer Advocate has a Disciplinary Court, a body whose powers include: hearing the disciplinary proceedings on consumer protection; imposing penalties or ruling as appropriate; ordering the infringer, in cases affecting individual, collective or diffuse interests, to restore the situation altered by the offence to its original state. Measures for achieving the restoration of the altered situation can include ordering the replacement of the goods; the return of the unduly received amount or the lowering of price; and being aware of all other matters, which are vested by law.

Access to remedy: What steps have been taken to develop new non-judicial remedies, improve existing mechanisms, and reduce barriers for victims?

Consumer Protection Agency:

Four Dispute Resolution Centres have been developed nationwide on behalf of the Consumer Advocate, covering the whole of the country and dealing with an average of 30,000 people a year. In particular, there has been more development of alternative means known as "Compromise", as a type of non-face-to-face negotiation carried out through technological media, and "Reconciliation", which is an assisted face-to-face negotiation mechanism. The negotiation styles developed seek to balance the natural disparity between suppliers and consumers, using various communication and negotiation tools from the transformational mediation.

Ministry of Labour and Social Services:

The Ministry of Labour maintains constant dialogue with companies and unions, as evidenced by the fact that all these bodies were invited and consulted for the formulation of the Annual Five-Year Plan of the present government.

Access to remedy: For companies headquartered in your country or their subsidiaries, has your government taken steps to enhance accountability for human rights impacts abroad?

Ministry of Labour and Social Services:

The accountability mechanism for workers internationally is the International Labour Organization, through Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, as well as all the other Conventions to which aggrieved individuals turn to filing a complaint; the government receives the relevant recommendations through the mechanism established.

Which factors impede your government’s ability to take action on business and human rights?

Most important factors:

  • Lack of resources for enforcement, monitoring and prosecution
  • Opposition by economic interest groups or business associations
  • Lack of understanding or awareness of business & human rights in government

Significant factors:

  • Other opposition by influential people or groups outside government
  • Challenges of coordinating across government departments

Minor factors:

  • Opposition or lack of consensus within government
  • Political limitations imposed by foreign governments or multilateral institutions
  • Concern about deterring foreign investment

What, if any, form of support would your government welcome the most to help advance its actions to improve companies’ impacts on human rights?

Consumer Protection Agency:

All the types of above-mentioned support are welcome for our country, especially technical assistance in human rights guidelines for companies, involvement in the forums about companies and their connection to protection of human rights.