Letter to the Legislative Assembly from the Group Against Impunity

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No more agreements that promote impunity!

Representatives of the Legislative Assembly:

In light of the announcement made by President of the Legislative Assembly Doctor Norman Quijano to “permanently open the session of the Policy Commission of the Legislative Assembly until we finish the task” of studying the implications of the ruling that declared the Amnesty Law unconstitutional, and after its leaders received the Ad-Hoc Commission’s report from June 2018, victims and human rights organizations present the following letter. We would like to state that:

  • The ruling that declared the General Amnesty Law unconstitutional, and the follow-up resolution emitted by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court in July 2018 ordered the Legislative Assembly to create a national law for reconciliation and assistance to victims of the armed conflict. This law should include “the participation of those to whom it is directed, which includes the victims themselves and the entities that represent them” (Resolution 44-2013/145-2013, July 13, 2018, pg. 13).

  • This ruling, in congruence with international human rights frameworks that El Salvador has signed onto, clearly establishes legal parameters, and the Legislative Assembly’s duty to uphold them unconditionally. The parameters are the following:

    • Recognition of the truth regarding the crimes committed, and the victims’ right to access information and documentation currently held by state institutions.

    • Access to justice, particularly through the establishment of criminal proceedings that apply to grave human rights violations, such as crimes against humanity and war crimes. They should also declare that there is no statute of limitation for these crimes and guarantee the participation of the victims in any criminal proceedings.

    • Integral reparations for the victims, including the accurate identification of the victims.

    • The implementation of measures to avoid repetition and preserve historical memory.

  • The Constitutional Chamber declared that the Legislative Assembly is in complete noncompliance with the ruling because it has not created a law as ordered, and it reminds them that, in order to comply with the mandate, they must listen to the victims, the associations that represent them, and other interested civil society sectors.

  • To this day, the Legislative Assembly has not demonstrated any real effort to include the victims or their representatives in the process to approve the reconciliation law. On the contrary, for two years it did not comply with the obligations set out in the ruling that declared amnesty unconstitutional. When new magistrates joined the Constitutional Chamber, they supported the work of the “Ad-Hoc Commission,” which attempted to draft a law in violation of the Constitution and international human rights treaties without a nation-wide consultation with the victims of the crimes against humanity that occurred during the armed conflict.

  • We are surprised and deeply concerned that, a few days before the change of Government and considering the Legislative Assembly’s noncompliance, there is a push to approve a new law, which has not been made public and was drafted without a broad consultation with the victims and the organizations that represent them. This would violate ruling 44-203/145-2013 that says the amnesty law is unconstitutional, as well as various international rulings handed down by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights against the Salvadoran State.

In light of this series of events, we demand and promote the following:

  1. We reject that instead of correcting the illegal process carried out by the Ad-Hoc Commission, the leaders of the Policy Commission of the Legislative Assembly seek to accelerate the approval of a new law without carrying out a full consultation process, without the victims’ participation, and with a total lack of transparency.

  2. In a recent meeting of the Policy Commission of the Legislative Assembly to address these issues, the members demonstrated inappropriate attitudes that disrespect the dignity of the victims and a willingness ignore the Constitution and international and national human rights obligations.

  3. On behalf of the victims that we represent and our own organizations, we express our deepest concern that this could be the creation of a new IMPUNITY AGREEMENT between various political forces to obstruct access to justice, and again favor the perpetrators of human rights violations committed during the armed conflict. This possibility is unacceptable and does not follow proper judicial processes. As such we believe that the PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC PROFESSOR SALVADOR SANCHEZ CEREN, has the moral and legal imperative to denounce this law if it has these characteristics.

  4. We demand an open and participative process at the national level to listen to the victims of the grave human rights violations that took place during the armed conflict. If this process is not done in an inclusive and adequate manner, the approval of a new law will lack legitimacy and be unconstitutional, meaning that it should be submitted to the competent constitutional and international checks.

  5. WE CALL ON THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY from various political parties who are committed to democratic values and the construction of a culture of peace and respect for human rights to denounce the draft law that would create a new absolute amnesty in favor of the perpetrators of human rights violations, in order to avoid trampling on the inalienable right to truth, justice, and reparations of thousands of victims who suffered from the worst crime imaginable.

San Salvador, May 14, 2019

Roberto Lemus, Asociación Salvadoreña por los Derechos Humanos (ASDEHU)

Ima Guirola, Instituto de Estudios de la Mujer “Norma Virginia Guirola de Herrera” (CEMUJER)

Héctor Carrillo, Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho (FESPAD)

David Ortiz, Concertación Romero

Ricardo Pérez, Asociación Febe Elizabeth Valásquez (ASOFEBE)

Wilfredo Medrano, Tutela Legal de Derechos Humanos “Maria Julia Hernández”

David Morales, Cristosal

Vladimir Zaldaña, Fundación Comuncándonos

Miguel Montenegro, Comisión de Derechos Humanos de El Salvador (CIDHES)

Manuel Escalante, Instituto de Derechos Humanos de la UCA (IDHUCA)

Guadalupe Mejía, Comités de Madres

Eduardo García, Asociación Probúsqueda de Niñas y Niños Desaparecidos