Meet María, our new Shelter City guest.

Peace Brigades International has the chance to welcome a new shelter city guest this summer! María Luz Nóchez, a journalist from El Salvador, arrived in the Netherlands in mid-June, and she will be staying in Utrecht until the end of August.  

María works for El Faro, the first digital newspaper in Latin America, founded in El Salvador twenty-five years ago. El Faro is an independent newspaper that publishes investigative journalism. In El Faro, she coordinates the opinion section, and she also focuses on gender-based violence and advocates for women’s rights and LGBTQ + rights. In 2017, her investigation A Heaven for child rapists, received the Latin American Prize for Investigative Journalism from the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad y Transparency Internacional. This investigation revolves around the justice system that dealt with sexual violence against minors and the consequences for the victims. Her non-victimizing approach allows her to consider the context of the story to expose the circumstances that led to human rights violations.  

Thanks to her work reforms were implemented in the court system and to abolish child marriage in her country.  

Journalists from El Faro are, however, under constant threats from authorities as they want to cover news from an independent position. Their devices have been bugged by the Pegasus spyware on several occasions and journalists are often harassed and threatened. Because of this, María feels no longer safe in her country, and it impacted her overall well-being.    

During her stay, María wants to pursue her work by participating in public events to shed light on women’s rights and gender equality in El Salvador. As a human rights advocate, the core of her work is to spread awareness on such topics. Even though she just arrived in the Netherlands, she already participated in the Human Rights Film Festival the Hague about women’s rights, organized by Global Human Rights Defence, on Friday 30 June. 

Education is also an essential part of her stay. She will attend Utrecht University’s summer school in the Human Rights Institute. This is for her an opportunity to deepen her knowledge of international human rights and international law. 

María hopes to speak her truth about human rights violation in El Salvador, reenergize in the Netherlands and enjoy the Dutch summer.  

Are you curious to hear from María herself? And to be able to ask her all your questions? Block August 24th in your agenda! We will organize a filmscreening and discussion in the Library at Neude in Utrecht. More information and a link to sign up can be found here!

Photo’s by Leo Endedijk