Why It Matters
El Salvador is the most violent country in the world not at war. As a whole, the Northern Triangle of Central America—El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—is the most violent region in the world.
Families, often single mothers and children, flee gang-controlled territories under threat of extortion, rape, and death. Forced from home to home, many ultimately seek protection abroad. This phenomenon is driving irregular migration both to the north through Mexico to the United States, and increasingly to the south to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Panama.
What We Do
Protecting people displaced by violence
There are few, if any, protection options in El Salvador for families fleeing violence. Our legal team assists with emblematic cases that establish legal precedents for justice.
In 2017, Cristosal accompanied 4 families forcibly displaced by violence in successfully filing rights-based appeals to the Supreme Court. The Court recognized the threat to petitioners’ lives, liberty, psychological well-being, and property, and ordered necessary emergency action.
Repairing the lingering effects of rights violations
Cristosal is supporting the prosecution of the 1981 El Mozote massacre, one of the largest unprosecuted war crimes in the world. "Settling this historical debt with the victims of the war, we help El Salvador transform structures of oppression and impunity and strengthen access to justice for families affected by violence and human rights violations today," says prosecuting attorney and Cristosal Human Rights Director David Morales.
El Mozote Trial
In December 1981, the U.S.-trained Alacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran Army systematically killed an estimated 1,000 people in the village of El Mozote. It is regarded as the largest massacre of civilians by government forces in Latin America.
An amnesty law preventing the prosecution of war crimes was passed after the civil war, epitomizing a pervasive attitude that crimes won’t be punished and victims don’t matter. In July 2016, El Salvador's Supreme Court struck down the amnesty law. Now, Cristosal is supporting Tutela Legal in their private prosecution of the case.
The El Mozote case is about more than demanding much-deserved justice for the victims of El Mozote and their families. It is also establishing a precedent in the national legal system, and showing present-day victims of violence that the legal system can and will act for them. Seeking justice for human rights violations sends a message that resounds not only in El Salvador, but across the globe. Through the El Mozote case, Cristosal is emphasizing that human rights violations, against all humans in all places, are unacceptable. Learn more about the El Mozote case here.
Make a difference today
Without you, our work doesn't happen. Your donations support progress toward peace for one of the most violent regions of the world.