Press Release

IACHR notes with concern the passage of the National Reconciliation Bill in El Salvador, which contains provisions contrary to human rights

May 21, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern about the processing of the National Reconciliation Bill that would deviate from the international obligations of the State of El Salvador in matters of truth, justice, and reparation for the serious human rights violations committed during the armed conflict.

According to public information, on May 10, 2019, the Ad-Hoc commission created to study the implications of the sentence of unconstitutionality of the Amnesty Law, issued by the Constitutional Chamber in 2016, delivered to the Board of Directors of the Legislative Assembly its report on the work carried out in this area, which was subsequently forwarded to the Political Commission of the Legislative Assembly. For its part, the Political Commission created a special Sub-Commission with the mandate to study the inputs submitted by the Ad-Hoc Commission and draft a bill to replace the 1993 General Amnesty Law. In a document attached to the report, among other issues, the Ad-Hoc Commission proposes that the prison sentence imposed in crimes against humanity and war crimes, under criminal proceedings conducted after the entry into force of this Act and before that entry into force, "shall be replaced by the penalty of work for the public good [...] whose minimum limit shall be three years and the maximum limit shall be ten years, depending on the seriousness of the act committed".

In this regard, the IACHR reiterates its concern recently expressed about the National Reconciliation Law initiative under debate in the National Assembly of El Salvador, the main effect of which would be to promote impunity for serious human rights violations committed in the past.

The Commission has held that amnesty provisions, prescription provisions and the establishment of liability exclusions intended to prevent the investigation and punishment of those responsible for serious human rights violations are inadmissible. In this regard, the State apparatus must ensure that such violations do not go unpunished and that the victims are restored to their full rights as soon as possible.

Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay, Rapporteur for El Salvador, emphasized: "Only through regulations that allow adequate investigation, trial and punishment of those responsible for serious human rights violations is it possible to move towards non-repetition, knowledge of the truth and reconciliation of the people.” On her part, Commissioner Antonia Urrejola, Rapporteur for Memory, Truth and Justice said: "It is very serious that a bill that does not comply with international standards on memory, truth and justice is being processed. The State should refrain from approving laws that violate the rights of victims and impede justice for serious human rights violations."

The IACHR reiterates its call to the State of El Salvador to refrain from approving initiatives of this nature and to strengthen its efforts to continue advancing in the investigation of these serious crimes, in the identification of those responsible and in the application of the pertinent sanctions. Finally, the IACHR encourages and accompanies all democratic sectors of the country in their efforts to fight impunity.

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. 123/19