Saturday, November 05, 2011

Impunity continues for the crimes of the 1980s

A leading voice for human rights in El Salvador, the Human Rights Institute at the University of Central America (IDHUCA), is publicly denouncing the failure of the government of El Salvador to provide justice in many of the highest profile cases from El Salvador's civil war.  

In 1999 and 2000, the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued decisions which declared that the government of El Salvador had the obligation under international human rights law to provide for credible judicial investigations of the murders of Oscar Romero and the six Jesuits and their housekeeper.  You can read a history of both of those cases before the IACHR here.  

The IACHR held a  working session on October 27 to determine El Salvador's compliance with those earlier rulings.  The IDHUCA, along with the Center for Justice and International Law, voiced their frustrations with the Salvadoran government's noncompliance with the commission's recommendations.   The human rights groups point to the fact that no new judicial proceedings or investigations had occurred in either case.   The government has not acted to repeal the amnesty law.   The government has acted to oppose requests for extradition of former Salvadoran military officers who have been charged by a Spanish court in the massacre of the Jesuits.  Thus in the view of these human rights organizations, the culture of impunity for human rights violations continues unabated in El Salvador.

Despite El Salvador's lack of compliance with previous IACHR declarations, the IDHUCA last week proceeded to file a series of additional complaints in other cases where the guilty parties have remained unjudged and justice has been denied the victims.   According to the IDHUCA, it has :

Filed complaints in the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights the cases of Francisco Ventura Reyes, university student wh0 was disappeared in 1980; Rolando González Morales and Carlos Santos Menjívar, youth detained and tortured in 1981 and 1983, respectively; Roque Dalton, the poet assassinated in 1975; Félix Antonio Ulloa, Rector of the University of El Salvador, assassinated in 1980; and Mario Zamora Rivas, a leader of the Christian Democratic Party and Chief State Counsel of the Republic, assassinated in 1980. With the exception of Dalton, who was executed by the People's Revolutionary Army (ERP), the rest of the responsibility is assigned to government forces; however, all the complaints are against the Salvadoran state for denying truth, justice and reparations to the victims.

The single greatest human rights violation from the 1980's in El Salvador was the massacre at El Mozote. The Salvadoran government's continuous failure to make any effort at a judicial inquiry led the IACHR on March 8, 2011 to take further action.   The IACHR has taken the next step and referred the El Mozote massacre case to the Inter-American Court for Human Rights in Costa Rica.

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