Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Still seeking justice for Oscar Romero

Tutela Legal, the human rights office of the archbishop in El Salvador, and the Center for Justice and International Law presented a petition before the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights today. The two human rights groups were denouncing the Salvadoran government for its failure to comply with prior recommendations of the Commission concerning the 1980 assassination of archbishop Oscar Romero. The Commission had previously expressed its view that the Salvadoran government needed to thoroughly, expeditiously and impartially investigate Romero's murder.

The representatives of the Salvadoran government argued (as they have been arguing for the past 15 years), that there was already a judicial process which convicted one person, Colonel Saravia, and that the amnesty law passed after the 1992 Peace Accords was necessary for the consolidation of the benefits of peace and progress forward following the end of the war. The government asserted that the petitioners were primarily interested in scoring political points through their petition.

You can watch a video of the entire hearing at this link(in Spanish).

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

it would be great if someone with international treaty experience would explain what can the executive of a government when confronted with:

a) The treaty is the law of the land, yet:

b) There is a law that directly contradicts the treaty

c) The executive power cannot violate the law on b) for obvious reasons

d) The judiciary, which could declare the law on b) inconstitutional, has not done it

e) The Assembly, which could repeal the law on b) has not done it

What's a poor nincompoop executive to do?

POLYCARPIO said...

The other significant element revealed during the session was the disclosure that the Salvadoran government and the Salvadoran church have begun a dialogue "at the highest levels" (Minister Lainez and Archbishop Sáenz) to explore "a comprehensive solution" ("una solución integral") of the Romero question. One wonders whether the government would be open to special exceptions to the Amnesty Law so that particular crimes, such as the Romero assassination, could be specifically investigated. According to the information, Sáenz has appointed a special commission, but the make of it was not revealed, other than to say that "the Archbishop's personal representative" was involved in the discussions.

El Salvador's ambassador to the OAS, who participated in the hearing, claimed that the government's posture is that Romero is "revered" ("lo veneramos"). While these steps are certainly inadequate and insufficient, it IS heartening to see a Salvadoran government begin to acknowledge Romero, after years of official silence.

Anonymous said...

Of course the ES gov't is against any sort of investigation, especially when the party currently in power had its hands mired in the archbishop's blood. Not to defend Saravia, but he was a D'uabuisson follower and certainly following orders. He has been scapegoated into being the only official responsible for the assasination, which is simply ridiculous. Demanding $10 million from this guy is stupid, as everyone knows he has no way to pay it. He has lost everything: wife, kids, family, so-called friends, any semblance of a "normal" life, etc. It is symbolic "fluff" on the part of those seeking justice. Instead, the pressure should be on D'uabuisson's cronies and the US gov't who could shed plenty of light on the issue if they wanted to. Instead, they have chosen to sweep the whole mess under the rug.

Qiuvo said...

Another related snippet:

http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/paperchase/2007/10/el-salvador-defends-amnesty-laws.php


-Qiuvo
Additional Roque Dalton poems have been uploaded to http://www.qiuvo.com

Qiuvo said...

link I tried to paste wasn't coming out right, so here's the short article:

El Salvador defends amnesty laws
Lisl Brunner at 9:26 AM ET

El Salvador defended its 1993 amnesty law in a hearing [recorded video] Wednesday before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) [official website] dealing with the country's failure to investigate the 1980 murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero [BBC backgrounder]. Representatives of the Salvadoran government maintained that the amnesty law has prevented compliance with a 2000 IACHR report [text] recommending that the state investigate the archbishop's death, of which the IACHR declared El Salvador responsible. The government defended the law, saying that it allowed the country to make a peaceful transition to democracy after its 1980-1992 civil war [PBS backgrounder].

Romero was assassinated by a death squad while saying mass in San Salvador. An outspoken critic of the military junta, his death is viewed as one of the catalysts of the war, which left over 70,000 people dead. In 2004, a federal court in the United States held Alvaro Saravia liable [CJA case backgrounder] for Romero's murder and ordered him to pay $10 million in damages to the archbishop's family. While other suits have been brought [JURIST report] against former Salvadoran state agents in US courts, human rights groups contend that the amnesty laws [ISP report] have undermined the rule of law and led to impunity in El Salvador. El Pais has more.