Salvadorans Denounce State's Passivity in Prosecuting War Crimes

Last week, representatives from multiple civil society groups appeared before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to denounce the passivity of the Salvadoran State in prosecuting crimes committed during the civil war. This denunciation comes 14 months after the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) repealed the Amnesty Law, which protected military and ex-guerrillas from being brought to justice.

Cristosal’s Human Rights Director, David Morales, criticized Attorney General Douglas Melendez for using his office’s low budget as an excuse for not proceeding with investigations.

 
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Last year, Meléndez said the Prosecutor's Office had created a unit of three prosecutors to specifically investigate crimes of the conflict. At the time, Julio César Larrama, the unit's chief prosecutor, said they had 139 cases. Only 19 of them were being investigated. Many investigations could not proceed because the Army refused to provide information related to the inquiries.

The civil society groups highlighted the fact that it is not known which cases are prioritized by the Attorney General, what the impact of those cases are, or how the cases are investigated.

"This situation is one of absolute impunity, that the cases have not been sent to the justice system," Morales said.

Arnau Baulenas, a lawyer with the Institute of Human Rights of the UCA, also denounced the small scale of the new prosecution unit. Baulenas went on to say that corresponding authorities lack empathy towards the victims. For example, Baulenas said the Public Prosecutor's Office conducts interviews in a small physical space, which can cause "terror" and could affect interview responses.

The Salvadoran state’s delegate to the IACHR promised to have a sincere dialogue with human rights organizations, in addition to affirming a "full opening" to initiate a cycle of knowledge related to victims, reconciliation, and reparation rights violated.

The IACHR awaits the state’s response.

Translated from: Luna, S. (5 de septiembre de 2017). País denunciado por no indagar delitos de guerra. El Diario de Hoy. Recuperado de http://www.elsalvador.com/noticias/nacional/393809/pais-denunciado-por-no-indagar-delitos-de-guerra/

Hannah Rose Nelson