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Water and sanitation: UN expert to visit El Salvador during current water shortage crisis

GENEVA / SAN SALVADOR (6 May 2016) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Léo Heller will carry out his first official visit to El Salvador from 11 to 18 May 2016, to assess the compliance of the human rights to water and sanitation in the country. This visit coincides with the country’s current national water shortage emergency following a period of prolonged drought.

“El Salvador has made impressive overall progress in improving access to water and sanitation in the framework of the UN Millennium Development Goals,” said the independent expert, appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on the human rights to water and sanitation worldwide.


“I will discuss options with the Government on how to achieve greater inclusion of people that still remain excluded from the positive developments that have been made regarding access to water and sanitation. Additionally, it is important to consider if the current situation of drought is negatively impacting on the rights of people who do not have access to public systems, as well as those who do have access - especially society’s most marginalized groups,” said Mr. Heller.

The Special Rapporteur also noted that the Salvadorian authorities have not yet incorporated the country’s international commitments into its domestic legislation. “It is crucial for El Salvador to take this opportunity to recognize the human rights to water and sanitation in its legislation, which will help to further protect people’s access to water and sanitation,” the expert added.

During his eight-day visit to the country, Mr. Heller will meet with Government officials, members of civil society, and the UN country team. He will visit San Salvador and different locations in the country to meet with victims of violations of their rights to water and sanitation.

At the end of his visit, on Tuesday 18 May, the Special Rapporteur will hold a press conference at 9:00 am at the UN building (Boulevard Orden de Malta Sur, No.2.B  Santa Elena, Antiguo Cuscatian, La Libertad) to share his preliminary findings with the media. Access to the press conference is strictly limited to members of the press.

The expert will report his final findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2016.


Mr. Léo Heller (Brazil) is the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. He was appointed by the Human Rights Council in November 2014. Mr. Heller is currently a researcher in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/WaterAndSanitation/SRWater/Pages/SRWaterIndex.aspx


The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.


UN Human Rights, country page – El Salvador: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/LACRegion/Pages/SVIndex.aspx


For more information and media requests:

In San Salvador: please contact Mr. Carlos Leon (+503 77426186 / carlos.leon@one.un.org)

In Geneva: please contact Ms. Viktoria Aberg (+41 22 917 9790 / vaberg@ohchr.org)


For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts: please contact Mr. Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  


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