Developments in El Salvador Cases before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in 1999 determined that El Salvador had violated the American Convention on Human Rights with respect to the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests along with their housekeeper and her daughter. As a result, the Commission recommended that El Salvador undertake a complete and impartial investigation to identify, try and punish the perpetrators of that crime, make reparations for the violations and repeal its General Amnesty Law.[1]

In 2000 the IACHR determined that El Salvador had violated the American Convention on Human Rights with respect to the 1980 assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and made similar recommendations with respect to this crime.[2]

As we have seen, El Salvador has not implemented these recommendations other than making  important symbolic public confessions of state responsibility and pleas for forgiveness along with praise for the victims of these crimes.[3]

In October 2011, the IACHR held a working session on the status of El Salvador’s implementation of the Commission’s recommendations in these cases. Two non-governmental human rights organizations (Human Rights Institute at the University of Central America and the Center for Justice and International Law) expressed frustration over the failure of the state to implement these recommendations. They also complained about the failure of El Salvador to cooperate with the Jesuits case in the courts of Spain by failing to enforce the INTERPOL Red Notice for the arrests of some of the defendants in that case.[4]

Unfortunately there is not much that the IACHR can do to change these circumstances. Nor can President Funes do much more because his political party (the FMLN) does not control the country’s legislature or office of the prosecutor.

[1] Post: International Criminal Justice: The Jesuits Case Before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (June 13, 2011).

[2] Post: Oscar Romero’s Assassination Case in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Oct. 13, 2011).

[3] See nn. 1, 2 supra.

[4] Center for Justice & Int’l Law, El Salvador is still in breach of the IACHR recommendations in the case of Monsignor Romero and the slaughter at the UCA (Oct. 27, 2011); Impunity continues for the crimes of the 1980s, Tim’s El Salvador Blog (Nov. 5, 2011); Post: International Criminal Justice: El Salvador’s General Amnesty Law and Its Impact on the Jesuits Case (June 11, 2011); Post: The Current Controversy Over El Salvador’s General Amnesty Law and Supreme Court (June 16, 2011); Post: International Criminal Justice: Spanish Court Issues Criminal Arrest Warrants for Salvadoran Murders of Jesuit Priests (May 31, 2011); Post: International Criminal Justice: Developments in Spanish Court’s Case Regarding the Salvadoran Murders of the Jesuit Priests (Aug. 26, 2011).

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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