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The Human Rights Ombudsman in Central America: Honduras and El Salvador Case Studies

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Author(s): Michael Dodson

Journal: Essex Human Rights Review
ISSN 1756-1957

Volume: 3;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 29;
Date: 2006;
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Keywords: Ombudsman | human rights | democracy

ABSTRACT
This article compares efforts to establish and strengthen the office of Human Rights Ombudsman in two Central American countries, Honduras and El Salvador. It focuses on challenges faced by reformers who seek to institutionalize human rights protection as part of the process of democratizing the state. The article highlights the particular features of a post-authoritarian context, wherein the rule of law is weak. The article is based on elite interviews in each country, supported by the findings of public opinion surveys. The findings demonstrate that under energetic leadership the Ombudsman can influence government behaviour and shape public values and perceptions concerning human rights. The findings also show that even democratically elected regimes in the post-authoritarian setting of Central America are reluctant to support the genuine strengthening of an accountability agency like the Ombudsman in ways that assure its independence and efficacy.
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