CISPES on DemocracyNOW! On Violent Attempts to Maintain Impunity for War Crimes in El Salvador


Since the Salvadoran Supreme Court's September decision to hear a case challenging the 1993 Amnesty Law that has prevented any prosecution for war crimes committed during the country's civil war, human rights offices and archival documentation of these atrocities have come under fire. Yesterday, the internationally-recognized human rights organization Pro-Búsqueda, had their offices raided by armed gunmen and their archives burned.  Two months ago, the historic Catholic human rights organization founded by Archbishop Romero, Tutela Legal, was abruptly shuttered by the current Archbishop, who has since denied access to the office's vast and irreplaceable documentation of war crimes to victim's and their families, the public, the media and even government officials.

This morning, DemocracyNOW! covered these recent attacks on El Salvador's human rights community, featuring analysis by CISPES Executive Director, Alexis Stoumbelis.  Watch here:

The pending Supreme Court challenge to the Amnesty Law is a positive development; however, many in El Salvador have questioned the court's motivations. The majority of  Supreme Court magistrates were appointed by the right-wing ARENA party, the party that passed the Amnesty Law and continues to faithfully defend it.

There is concern that the court's sudden interest in overturning the law could be a strategy by the Salvadoran right-wing - fractured and on the defensive since the leftist FMLN party's electoral victory in 2009 -  to bring charges against the FMLN's presidential candidate Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a former guerrilla commander who is currently leading the polls for the February contest. The question at hand: if the court has not demonstrated interest in overturning the law in the past 20 years, why now?

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