Law of Reconciliation timeline

1.23.92 - A ‘National Reconciliation Law’ is passed thereby pardoning all insurgents for “political crimes.” This forgiveness of insurgency was a necessary pre-condition for the FMLN to be able to participate in political life. However, this amnesty will not cover anyone identified by the UN Truth Commission as having committed “grave acts of violence” during the civil war i.e. war crimes and crimes against humanity.

3.22.93 – Five days after the release of the United Nations Truth Commission’s report on the Salvadoran Civil War (1980 – 1992), the Legislative Assembly passes the ‘General Amnesty Law for the Consolidation of Peace’ (LAGCP) granting “complete, absolute and unconditional” amnesty for all crimes committed during the war with no exceptions. It replaced the 1992 ‘National Reconciliation Law.’

9.26.00 – The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) rules that some crimes may be ineligible for the amnesty provided for in the ‘Amnesty Law’ but leaves it to lower-level judges to determine those exceptions. Despite this ruling, no such determinations are ever made.

9.12.13 - The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) decides to hear the most recent lawsuit against the ‘Amnesty Law.’ The plaintiffs argued that Article 1 of the ‘Amnesty Law’ is unconstitutional because "it generates impunity by granting a broad, absolute and unconditional amnesty." In addition, they argued that it is an abrogation of the State’s "obligation to guarantee that a person whose rights have been violated has the necessary resources to bring them before the courts."

7.13.16 – After nearly three years of deliberation, the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of El Salvador declares unconstitutional the 1993 ‘Amnesty Law’ and by default overturns the ruling by the Court in 2000. (For press briefing of ruling, click here) The 1992 ‘National Reconciliation Law’ is revived to fill the legal vacuum left by the now-void 1993 law. The Constitutional Chamber orders measures be taken to protect victims’ right to justice and provide reparations.

6.14.18 – An Ad-Hoc commission in the Legislative Assembly is established and tasked to study the implications of the judgment issued by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice. Coordinated by legislator Rodolfo Parker (PDC), members include Mauricio Ernesto Vargas (ARENA), Antonio Almendáriz (PCN), Nidia Díaz (FMLN) and Juan Carlos Mendoza (GANA). Victims’ associations and human rights organizations criticized its mandate and composition. According to Cristosal, “four of [the five deputies] were direct actors during the armed conflict (two ex-military chiefs and an ex-staff advisor for the Armed Forces, as well as an ex-chief of the guerrilla forces). Also, two of the members of the Ad Hoc Commission [Rodolfo Antonio Parker Soto and José Antonio Almendáriz Rivas] were identified by the Truth Commission as responsible for covering up grave human rights violations.”

7.23.18 - The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court establishes a deadline of July 13, 2019 for the Legislative Assembly after two years of incompliance with their 2016 ruling.

2.9.19 – Commission president Rodolfo Parker (PDC) presents his proposed ‘National Reconciliation Law.’ The document proposes "unconditional and absolute" amnesty for all crimes except crimes against humanity or war crimes. But in those cases, the defendants may only be sanctioned with community service. The proposal prohibits prison sentences or civil liability.

3.18.19 – Parker (named by the UN Truth Commission as having covered up the massacre of the Jesuits of the UCA when he acted as advisor to the Ministry of Defense) steps down from the Ad-Hoc commission after strong national and international opposition to his proposal, including from United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

5.9.19 – The Ad-Hoc commission dissolves without having proposed a bill that guarantees the fulfillment of transitional justice to the victims of the armed conflict.

5.13.19 - The Ad-Hoc Commission, after it dissolves, presents its report to the Legislative Assembly’s Political Commission. The report included several recommendations from Parker’s original proposal, including of no jail time and limiting the scope of cases that could be investigated, as well as new recommendations, including financial reparation for victims.

5.14.19 - The Political Commission of the Legislative Assembly decides to create a Subcommittee to elaborate a ‘National Reconciliation Law’, which will replace the struck-down 1993 Amnesty Law. The new Subcommittee will go off of the report that the Ad Hoc Commission delivered to the Political Commission. The committee will be coordinated by Roberto Angulo (PCN) and include Julio Fabián (ARENA), Damián Alegría (FMLN), Guillermo Gallegos (GANA), Jorge Mazariego (PDC) and Juan José Martel (CD).

5.21.19 - Representatives of 15 social organizations present their own reconciliation proposal titled the "Special Law of Comprehensive Reparation and Access to Justice for Victims of Serious Human Rights Violations in the Context of the Armed Conflict" to the Subcommittee. It is a bill that seeks to guarantee truth, justice and reparation to the victims of human rights violations committed in the Salvadoran Civil War. It took three months to develop and is supported by the United Nations. The bill seeks to block any new amnesty law that seeks to forgive war crimes and/or invalidate the findings of the UN Truth Commission.

5.22.19 – The Subcommittee decides to send their own proposal titled ‘Transitional and Restorative Justice Law for National Reconciliation’ to its parent commission for a decision on whether to advance it onwards for a full vote or continue studying it. It keeps almost everything from the Ad-Hoc recommendations, including amnesty for war criminals, with one important change. It replaces a National System of Integral Reparation and Access to Justice with mixed participation from the government and civil society with a government-only National Reparation Directorate.

5.23.19 - The members of the Legislative Assembly’s Political Commission receive the proposed ‘Transitional and Restorative Justice Law for National Reconciliation’ from the Subcommittee. The Political Commission of the Legislative Assembly decides to not vote on the proposed ‘Transitional and Restorative Justice Law for National Reconciliation’ and will instead consult with the Church, armed forces, associations of victims and NGOs going forward. Responding to outcry from their base, the FMLN Political Commission and the FMLN legislative caucus state their opposition to the proposed ‘Transitional and Restorative Justice Law for National Reconciliation.’

5.27.19 – Consultations with victims, the Church and civil society begin. Community organizations criticize the short time allotted to each speaker. 

5.28.19 – The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in Costa Rica, issues a resolution ordering the Salvadoran government to suspend the process of approval of the ‘Transitional and Restorative Justice Law for National Reconciliation’ in order “to guarantee the right to access to justice for the victims of the El Mozote massacre.”

5.30.19 – Norman Quijano, president of Legislative Assembly and member of the ARENA party, says efforts to craft a Law of Reconciliation will continue in order to meet the imposed deadline by the Supreme Court of El Salvador.

6.1.19 –Nayib Bukele is inaugurated as the new President of the Republic of El Salvador.

6.14.19 – The Inter-American Court of Human Rights gives the Salvadoran government a deadline of June 14, 2019 to provide a report on the progress of compliance with its decision, "so that the full Court of the Inter-American Court has more elements to rule on this request for provisional measures [from victims of the El Mozote massacre].”

7.13.19 – The deadline the Supreme Court of El Salvador gave to the Legislature and Executive to replace the unconstitutional 1993 Amnesty Law with legislation that does not contravene the human and internationally recognized right to justice.

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