Extortion attempt and threats to Karla Avelar
Following the announcement on 26 April of Karla Avelar of El Salvador as a 2017 Martin Ennals Award finalist, an attempt was made to extort some of the future prize money.
Karla Avelar faces regular threats for her human rights work and for who she is. These latest threats forced her to flee her home for the seventh time in the last two years. Transgender persons, and the wider LGBT community, face widespread hostility and social rejection in El Salvador. Crimes against them are almost never brought to justice, which results in a climate of impunity. Sadly, this treatment of transgender people can be seen well beyond El Salvador.
We aim to highlight Ms Avelar’s bravery in continuing her work. We are encouraged that the authorities contacted her after the media coverage of the latest threats. This needs to be ,followed up with judicial proceedings against those responsible and, most importantly, effective protection for Karla Avelar.