El Salvador frees woman jailed for homicide after miscarriage, says rights group

Elsy, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison and spent a decade behind bars for alleged aggravated homicide after suffering a miscarriage, poses for a picture after being released from jail in San Salvador, El Salvador, February 9, 2022. Agrupacion Ciudadana por la Despenalizacion del Aborto/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

SAN SALVADOR, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Salvadoran authorities on Wednesday freed a woman who had served a decade of a 30-year sentence on charges of aggravated homicide after suffering a miscarriage, according to a local rights group.

Elsy, 38, whose last name was not released, reported an obstetric emergency in June 2011 while working as a domestic worker, according to the organization, which said she was immediately arrested and shortly after charged with aggravated homicide.

Salvadoran authorities did not respond to a request for comment or confirm the release. Reuters was unable to independently verify the details of the case.

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The Citizen Group for the Decriminalization of Abortion in El Salvador, which released a photo that it said depicted Elsy after her release from jail, said her original court case was full of irregularities and without presumption of innocence.

"We celebrate Elsy's release after 10 years. Her erroneous 30-year sentence for aggravated homicide is over. We must continue to fight tirelessly to free those who remain deprived of liberty," said the group's president, Morena Herrera, in a statement.

"(Elsy) was separated from her son, who only had her. Now, more than 10 years later, she will be able to reunite with him and her family," the organization added.

Over the last 20 years El Salvador, which has banned abortion under all circumstances, including cases of rape and incest and when the woman's health is in danger, has criminally prosecuted some 181 women who suffered obstetric emergencies. Since 2009, 61 of them have been released, according to the feminist organization.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in November that El Salvador had violated the rights of a woman identified as Manuela who was sent to prison for breaching the abortion laws and died while serving her 30-year sentence. read more

Last December, as part of a campaign called "Free the 17," celebrities including America Ferrera, Milla Jovovich and Kathryn Hahn called on Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele to free 17 women who were imprisoned after suffering miscarriages and other obstetric emergencies. Since the launch of the campaign, five of those women have been freed, including Elsy, said the rights group.

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Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Anthony Esposito and Rosalba O'Brien

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