Urgent Action: Keep Teresa From Going Back to Jail for a Miscarriage

After a miscarriage, Teresa was accused of having an abortion, then charged with “aggravated homicide.” Recently, a judge overturned her conviction because there was no evidence she did anything wrong—and after four years behind bars—Teresa was finally set free. 

Now, Salvadoran authorities are trying to send Teresa back to prison. Add your name to help put an end to Teresa’s suffering, and make sure she doesn’t have to set foot in court room, or a jail cell, ever again.


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Re: Preserve justice and protect the human rights of Marķa Teresa Rivera

Honorable Judges of the Third Penal Chamber,

We are writing to express our deep concern about the legal challenge to Marķa Teresa Rivera's freedom. As you know, she was unjustly sentenced to 40 years in prison for "aggravated homicide" following an obstetric emergency. Like 14 other Salvadoran women currently being deprived of liberty, Marķa Teresa sought medical care during a pregnancy-related health emergency, and without evidence she did anything wrong, was swiftly convicted of murder.

This past May, Judge Martin Rogel Zepeda reviewed Marķa Teresa's case, overturned her conviction, and ordered her immediate release. He based his decision on testimony from forensic experts who discredited the faulty scientific methods used to convict her, and he cited her right to a fair trial, outlined in the American Convention and international case law. His ruling brought justice for Marķa Teresa, who was finally able to reunite with her 10-year-old son, Oscar, and seek urgent medical care for a worsening kidney infection. It also represented a big step forward for human rights--not only for Marķa Teresa, but for all people in El Salvador.

As you consider Marķa Teresa's appeal, we urge you to uphold fundamental human rights principles forming the basis of her release. Furthermore, we would ask you to consider the myriad human rights violations Marķa Teresa faced leading up to and during her imprisonment, and those she would face if her freedom were once again taken away.

The human rights violations faced by Marķa Teresa, and other women deprived of liberty due to obstetric emergencies are well documented and have been denounced by numerous international NGOs and human rights bodies. In 2015, seven UN special rapporteurs issued a joint statement condemning the numerous human rights violations that occur when women are prosecuted, imprisoned and convicted for obstetric emergencies. In November 2015, the Procurador para la Defensa de Derechos Humanos (PDDH) of El Salvador determined that government authorities were responsible for violating a number of her fundamental human rights. In May of this year, the State Department of the United States expressed "serious concerns" about the criminal penalties faced by Marķa Teresa and other women imprisoned following obstetric emergencies.

We ask that during your consideration of the prosecution's appeal of Marķa Teresa's case, you take into account the miscarriage of justice in her case and the discrimination she faced as a poor woman. We respectfully ask that you take advantage of this unique opportunity to provide justice for Marķa Teresa and uphold her fundamental human rights to health and bodily integrity, equality before the law and non-discrimination, freedom from gender-based violence, and judicial protection in your decision.

Thank you for your attention to this matter,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]