Press Release

IACHR Urges El Salvador to Comply with the Recommendations from the Truth Commission’s Final Report, 25 Years after its Publication

April 2, 2018

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Washington, D.C.—Twenty-five years after the Commission on the Truth for El Salvador issued its final report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) urges the Salvadorian State to comply with the report’s recommendations. For more than 23 years, the Amnesty Law hindered the pursuit of justice for perpetrators of human rights violations committed during the armed conflict and the reparation of the victims. More than a year after the law’s nullification by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, it is necessary to intensify progress on transitional justice.

The Truth Commission, along with the Peace Agreements, represented an important step toward change within Salvadorian society, and its final report—“From Madness to Hope: The 12-Year War in El Salvador”—established important guidelines for strengthening democracy and the rule of law in the country. More than two decades after the end of the armed conflict and the report of the Truth Commission, its recommendations are still in force.

The IACHR has monitored the situation of transitional justice in the country over the last decades. In this context, the IACHR recognizes that important progress has recently been made in this regard, since the Amnesty Law was declared unconstitutional. This year, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court issued decisions in cases involving forced disappearance during the armed conflict. Furthermore, a Unit on Crimes from the Armed Conflict was created in the Public Prosecutor’s Office to prosecute crimes from that era, as was the National Commission on the Search for Disappeared Persons (CONABUSQUEDA), an autonomous entity with a mandate to search for those who disappeared during the country’s armed conflict.

Nevertheless, progress remains stalled on the issue of memory, truth, justice, and comprehensive reparation of the victims. According to the United Nations, only 3 of the more than 100 criminal charges have led to cases being opened since the Amnesty Law was declared unconstitutional. Moreover, information received by the Commission indicates that the Armed Forces are not providing information concerning cases from the armed conflict. With respect to the right to reparation, a law that would ensure comprehensive reparation to the victims is still pending approval.

The IACHR urges the State to create and strengthen transitional justice mechanisms to comply with international norms on this issue. Specifically, the Commission urges the State to file new criminal charges concerning crimes that took place during the armed conflict and to approve a law providing comprehensive reparation to the victims of the armed conflict, in line with inter-American standards. To that effect, the IACHR is exploring possibilities for technical cooperation to train public officials on standards of transitional justice, within the scope of its functions and mandate, and to work with State institutions on efforts taken to ensure effective compliance with transitional justice in the country.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 074/18