El Salvador information stolen from UW human rights group

An elder Salvadoran man who survived the armed conflict is preparing a poster memorializing slain family members for the annual “Encuentro de Victimas” (Meeting of Victims) in San Salvador, El Salvador. (Photo by Alex Montalvo)
An elder Salvadoran man who survived the armed conflict is preparing a poster memorializing slain family members for the annual “Encuentro de Victimas” (Meeting of Victims) in San Salvador, El Salvador. (Photo by Alex Montalvo)

Sensitive information about victims of human rights abuses in El Salvador was stolen last week from the University of Washington Center for Human Rights in a break-in, the center reported yesterday.

A hard drive in the desktop computer of the center’s director, Angelina Godoy, was stolen sometime between Oct. 15 and 18. The computer contained the information relating to the center’s research on human rights abuses in El Salvador.

“While we have backups of this information, what worries us most is not what we have lost but what someone else may have gained: the files include sensitive details of personal testimonies and pending investigations,” the office said in its online statement.

The center, in its statement said it couldn’t rule out that it was a random crime, but no other offices were targeted in the weekend break-in.

“We are deeply concerned that this breach of information security may increase the vulnerability of Salvadoran human rights defenders with whom we work,” the center said in its released statement.

Decades after the start of the conflict, information on human rights abuses appears to have been targeted. In 2013 the offices of El Salvador group Pro-Búsqueda, which works to reunite disappeared children with surviving family members, was firebombed, destroying many of that group’s files.

The UW Center for Human Rights, which was established in 2009, has been researching and investigating human rights abuses in El Salvador. The center this month also announced that it filed a lawsuit against the CIA for documents related to a 1981 massacre that the center requested under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

The University of Washington Police is investigating, the center said.

The center said on its Twitter that it was grateful for the words of support and would “continue to work with those who seek justice and truth.”

Previous coverage of El Salvador

UW files suit against CIA for documents on El Salvador massacre

El Salvador families search for disappeared children decades after war

El Salvador shows signs of progress in the shadow of U.S. intervention

Seattleites renew fight for justice in El Salvador’s dirty wars

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