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Press Release

Statement from the OAS General Secretariat on CICIES

  June 7, 2021

The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) deeply regrets the Press Release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador dated June 4, 2021, by which it breaks the agreement of the International Commission against Impunity in El Salvador (CICIES), as well as the reasons set forth in said statement.

The statement indicates that the decision “is due to the fact that the OAS General Secretariat hired as an advisor the former mayor of the Arena party Ernesto Muyshondt, who has been prosecuted since 2016 for various crimes” and that the CICIES was created to “fight against corruption and impunity and not to promote them.”

The OAS General Secretariat feels it has the duty to inform:

a) Mr. Ernesto Muyshondt was not hired as stated in the press release but was only made an offer at the time for an honorary contract, although this contract was never signed.

b) Prior to making the offer public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was notified about it and at no time did it disclose any discrepancy regarding the possibility of making it.

c) As it is obvious, more than obvious, elementary knowledge of diplomatic law and diplomatic practice, not even the hiring would have given Mr. Ernesto Muyshondt immunity before Salvadoran courts, much less “impunity.” Such errors in logic are inadmissible from every point of view.

d) It should be clear that Mr. Muyshondt did not have, does not have and will not have a contract with the Organization. The General Secretariat does not want this to be used as an excuse for the CICIES to leave the country (without prejudice to eventually considering the complaints made by Mr. Muyshondt regarding violation of due process guarantees, namely: prejudice regarding the case by members of the executive branch, attacks in social media, calls for political activism to put pressure on the judicial headquarters, etc).

Therefore, and in view of the foregoing, we completely reject the argument formulated and we consider it our duty to make public our differences with the Government of El Salvador regarding the CICIES. These differences were known to donors and the Government of El Salvador itself, who had been told that they made it impossible to continue the work of the Commission.

First, the approval of the Law for the use of products for medical treatments in exceptional public health situations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, promulgated by means of legislative decree No. 7 dated May 5, 2011 and published in the Official Gazette. Nº 85 Volume 431 of the same date May 5, 2021; it eventually benefits people who could have participated in acts of corruption due to the immunity established in Art. 4 of said law and the CICIES could not continue working within a framework of eventual impunity.

Second, the government decision not to publish the First Descriptive Report on the Quality, Effectiveness and Legitimacy of the use of Public Funds in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In said Report, a series of irregularities with a criminal appearance are found that must be investigated.

Third, the smothering by the general prosecutor's office on the CICIES in recent weeks, completely curtailing its investigative possibilities.

Fourth, the government's actions aimed at preventing progress in the investigations into allegations of corruption by the current administration.

Fifth, and based on the foregoing, the need for the approval of a reform to the criminal procedure code so that intergovernmental organizations such as the CICIES could be plaintiffs in the criminal proceedings and investigations that the Attorney General's Office carried out in those cases of corruption that affect the various rights of the population.

Sixth, the recurrent attitude of the Government of trying to induce the CICIES to investigate actions of opposition politicians exclusively. This is absolutely inappropriate and contrary to the commitment that the General Secretariat assumed that the CICIES would never be an instrument of political persecution by the Government.

The OAS General Secretariat considered, and made it known to the Government and donors, that without these elements "the fight against corruption" is more a rhetorical effort than a political and ethical objective, which makes it impossible for the CICIES to accompany this process.

The current Government of El Salvador knows that the OAS General Secretariat has always embraced the essential principles of Inter-American Law and the Inter-American System, even though in many cases it was alone in defense of these principles. Likewise, it can be sure that the OAS General Secretariat will continue to embrace them, no matter what political costs this may incur.

Reference: E-059/21