D.       EL SALVADOR  


1.          INTRODUCTION


          On November 18, 1978, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights approved its report on the status of human rights in El Salvador, based on the on-site observation conducted from January 9-18, 1978. The report was submitted to the ninth regular session of the OAS General Assembly in La Paz, Bolivia, October 1979.


          One week before the inauguration of the 9th General Assembly, on October 15, 1979, the government of President Gen. Carlos Humberto Romero was deposed in a coup d’état led by army officers. These officers called for a five-member joint civilian-military government to be set up, comprising Col. Adolfo Arnaldo Majano and Col. Jaime Abdul Gutiérrez, and the civilians Dr. Guillermo Ungo, the social-democratic leader of the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR), Mr. Ramón Mayorga Quiróz, then the rector of the Catholic University of Central America, and Mr. Mario Andino, a businessman.


          The General Assembly in La Paz heard the Commission’s report and, since the delegates of the new government in El Salvador had relayed its firm commitment to the political, social, and economic reforms necessary to ensure full enjoyment of human rights in the country, the meeting expressed its hope that the Revolutionary Junta would ensure compliance with the “measures it has adopted or offered to adopt” and with the recommendations set by the Commission in the report in question. It also agreed to ask the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to continue monitoring the human rights situation in the country and to include its conclusions in this report.


          In compliance with General Assembly Resolution 446, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been closely observing the unfolding of political events in El Salvador, particularly as regards the observance and upholding of human rights.


          Immediately after it was set up, the Revolutionary Junta issued, on October 16, 1979, a proclamation stating its goals. These included: the dissolution of the ORDEN paramilitary organization; the promulgation of a general amnesty, under which political prisoners would be released and exiles allowed to return; the guaranteed functioning of political and labor agencies; a meaningful process of agrarian reform that would enable a fair distribution of wealth and land; a series of financial reforms, including the nationalization of the banking system; the guaranteed functioning of private enterprise on behalf of the country’s interests; controlling inflation; and a speedy solution to the problem with the neighboring Republic of Honduras, over which the two countries went to war in July 1969. The new Junta also promised to pursue a foreign policy based on respectful and cordial relations with all the nations of the world.


          According to publicly available information, the Revolutionary Junta was unable to achieve the basic objectives it had set as the central pillars of its government program. As a result, in January 1980 the civilian members of the Junta resigned en bloc, together with practically all the cabinet and the leaders of other important public agencies. The armed forces then invited the Christian Democrat Party to join the government and share power. From this party, Dr. Héctor Dada Hirezi, Dr. Antonio Morales Ehrlich, and Dr. Ramón Avalos joined the new Junta, and other high-ranking public officials were selected from among the party’s members. In joining the government, the Christian Democrats set down the following two conditions: 1) implementation of an anti-oligarchy, structural reform through agrarian reform, nationalization of the banks and of foreign trade, and guaranteed rights for rural and urban workers; 2) the introduction of democratic processes in El Salvador, full respect for human rights, the formation of a pluralist government, and the commencement of an urgent dialogue with the people’s organizations, which would enable the latter, subject to the termination of the armed struggle, to participate in the tasks being planned.


          In early March 1980, the civilian member of the Junta, Héctor Dada Herezi, submitted his resignation and withdrew from the Christian Democratic Party, arguing that the new government, too, was incapable of carrying out the reforms and the commitments it had made. His place was taken in the Governing Junta by José Napoleón Duarte, the major leader of the Christian Democratic Party whose followers contend had been the real winner of the presidential elections held in 1972.




          With the ouster of the government of General Carlos Humberto Romero, the new government enacted legal provisions of a different kind and introduced amendments to those already in force which have a bearing on the field of human rights. These provisions include the following:


a)          Decree Nº 1 of October 15, 1979


          The first decree of the Revolutionary Junta, invoking “the right of insurrection” recognized in Article 7 of the Salvadorian Constitution, declared the legitimacy of the new Government and assumed executive and legislative powers. Upon assuming legislative powers, the Junta declared that in the future it would govern by means of decrees that would have the force of law.


b)          Decree Nº 2 of October 16, 1979


          The second decree of the Revolutionary Junta, by virtue of the powers set forth in Decree Nº 1, invoked Article 175 of the Constitution for purposes of maintaining public order, thus allowing it to suspend some of the guarantees envisaged in Article 154 (right of movement), 158 (freedom of speech and of the press), 159 (inviolability of the mails), and 160 (freedom to meet and of association).


          On October 23, the members of the new Salvadorian Government assumed office. Their first decision was to lift the state of siege decreed by the armed forces six days earlier.


          On March 5, 1980, these guarantees were again suspended and a second state of siege was declared for a period of 30 days.


          Subsequently, the state of siege was extended for 30-days periods in April, May, June, July, August, and most recently, on September 5.


c)          Decree Nº 114 of February 11, 1980


          This Decree confirmed the validity of the 1962 Constitution and expanded Decree Nº 1 by establishing the legal framework under which the reforms envisaged by the Junta, particularly agrarian reform, would be carried out.


d)       The general amnesty of October 19, 1979


          On October 19, the Revolutionary Junta urged all the leaders of political and labor organizations who were abroad to return and take an active part in the political life of the nation. A general amnesty covering all exiles and political prisoners was declared.


e)          Decree of dissolution of ORDEN


          Under Decree Nº 12 of November 1979, the Governing Revolutionary Junta dissolved the semi-official, paramilitary organization called ORDEN. The Decree also provided, among other things, that any civilian official or military officer who attempted to aid ORDEN would be committing an abuse of authority and would be sanctioned under law.


          Although the paramilitary organization ORDEN was officially dissolved, in practice some of its members have joined armed bands that have been emerging in the atmosphere of generalized violence reigning in El Salvador and in the midst of which the Government has failed to take effective action to repress such bands.


f)          Decree Nº 43 of August 21, 1980


          On August 21, 1980, the Junta promulgated Decree Nº 43 declaring a state of emergency in El Salvador and placing all public service employees under the control of the armed forces.


          The operative part of the Decree declares a state of emergency in El Salvador, under which the public servants in the following government institutions and autonomous agencies were placed under military control: the National Water Supply and Sewer System Administration, the Rio Lempa Hydroelectric Plant Executive Commission, and the Autonomous Executive Port Commission. Control of these agencies was assigned to the Ministry of Defense and Public Safety which was authorized to take any necessary action to maintain these services. All staff members of the public services mentioned in this decree were merged into the armed forces. When this decree enters into force, the staff members affected will work in places assigned by the Ministry of Defense and Public Safety. Instructions will be issued for implementation of the decree.


3.       RIGHT TO LIFE


a)       Investigation of deaths and disappearances that allegedly

          occurred during the administration of General Romero


          In recommendation Nº 5 of its earlier report on the status of human rights in El Salvador, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urged the Salvadorian Government to investigate reports received of people killed, missing, tortured or arrested, and to prosecute and punish the authorities responsible.


          Colonel Abdul Gutiérrez, a member of the Governing Junta, said on October 23, 1979, that an investigation had concluded that there were no political prisoners in secret jails in the country. Through Decree Nº 9 of November 6, 1979, the Junta established a Special Committee to Investigate Missing Political Prisoners, composed of three members with a well-known democratic record: Roberto Lara Velado, Luis Alonso Posada and Roberto Suárez Suay, the latter the Attorney General of El Salvador.


          On November 27, the Special Committee submitted a preliminary report to the Junta, recommending that:


          1.          Former presidents Armando Arturo Molina and Carlos Humberto Romero be prosecuted for their responsibility as commanders-in-chief of the Armed Forces.


          2.          The directors of the National Guard, Bursar’s Office of the police, and the national police under the regimes of Colonel Molina and General Romero also be prosecuted.


          3.          Action be taken to compensate the families of missing political prisoners whose deaths can be confirmed or presumed.


          Accordingly, on December 3, Rubén Zamora, Ministry of the Presidency, announced that the Attorney General’s Office had been instructed to investigate and obtain sufficient evidence to bring the heads of the security forces of the two prior administrations of justice, as recommended, and to investigate the responsibility of former presidents Molina and Romero. The families of missing persons and police killed in confrontations with the guerrillas would be compensated.


          On December 9, the Special Committee reported the discovery of 26 bodies of people presumably prisoners of the two past regimes, even though expert opinion based on the state of the bodies pointed to the conclusion that the 14 most recent deaths had occurred three or four months earlier and the other 12, four years ago.


          As of now, only two of the corpses have been identified, one a woman whom the Committee assumed was María Teresa Hernández Saballos, a 30-year-old lawyer arrested on September 15, 1979, in Delgado by the National Guard, and Jesús Nicolás Palacios, a chauffeur identified by relatives.


          On January 3, 1980, the Special Committee submitted its final report, stating that it was unable to find any of the people listed as missing in any of the jails in El Salvador, despite evidence that many of them were captured by members of the security forces and that others were being held in their barracks. These people are not known to have been released, which means that many of those missing are presumably dead. The report added that during the Committee’s investigation, a total of 92 bodies were found, only 25 of which could be identified.


          The proceedings ordered to determine the responsibility of former presidents Romero and Molina and the heads of the security forces during their governments were never set in motion.


          In January 1980, when almost all the members of the cabinet submitted their resignations to the Governing Junta, the Special Committee announced that it had decided to discontinue its work.


b)          Deaths in confrontations with security forces


          The difficulties experienced by the civilian-military regime in instituting progressive reforms and the unity achieved by the left-wing forces on April 18, 1980, intensified the armed confrontations between the security forces and the member organizations of the united left wing.


          The Democratic Revolutionary Front was the outcome of a coalition of the Revolutionary Coordinator of the Masses (CRM), the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR), the Social Christian Movement (MSC), and former members of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC). Among the members of the coalition are: Roberto Lara Velado (a founder of the PDC and its first secretary general) and Héctor Dada Herezi (a member of the second Junta). Other member organizations are: the Independent Movement of Professionals and Technicians of El Salvador (MIPTES), composed of 400 professionals who resigned from the Government in disagreement with the Junta; the Association of Salvadorian Bus Owners (AEST); the Trade Union Unity Committee (CUS); and the two major universities, José Simeón Cañas Central American University and the University of El Salvador.


          The increasingly frequent armed confrontations occurring all over the country have taken many lives of militants of opposition groups, members of the army and innocent civilians caught in the cross-fire between the two bands. To cite just one example, between March 16-25, 1979, according to one news agency, 140 fatalities were reported in confrontations between the forces mentioned.


c)       The deaths on the Sumpul River


          On June 24, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was informed that an incident had occurred on May 14-15 in the border area of La Arada, where the Sumpul River forms the border separating El Salvador and Honduras. Because of the serious nature of the incident, it is being carefully investigated by the Commission.


          According to information received, approximately 600 peasants from El Salvador (other information places the figure between 300 and 1,500) may have lost their lives as they were trying to cross the border and enter Honduras, as a result of coordinated actions attributable to troops of the Salvadorian Government.


          The Salvadorian Government has denied any responsibility in the incident attributed to it. In a cablegram sent to the Commission, the Government indicated that it had invited national and foreign newsmen to fly over the region and nothing had been found. The Commission also reported that the head of the OAS military observer mission—who was immediately consulted—said that he had not witnessed the incidents and was not in a position to verify the charges.


          In view of the contradictory versions, the Commission is continuing its investigation, has opened case file 7376 for this purpose, and has designated one of its members as a special rapporteur.


d)          Homicides charged to the authorities


          The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has received many charges of assassinations attributed to the security forces and paramilitary organizations operating, according to the charges, with the concurrence of national government authorities such as the White Warrior Union, Balance and the now-dissolved ORDEN.


          Legal Aid, an office under the Archbishop of El Salvador which defends human rights causes, informed the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on March 6, 1980, that during February security agencies were responsible for the following assassinations:


          1)          In Aguilares and Suchitoto, 70 peasants


          2)          In Chalatenango, 50 peasants.


          3)          In Morazán and La Unión, 41 peasants


          At the same time, Legal Aid also charged that members of the national police had captured Lic. Roberto Castellanos, a Salvadorian, and his wife, Anette Mathiessen, of Danish nationality, on February 24, as witnessed by residents of the Colonia Nicaragua in San Salvador where the couple lived. Castellanos, a sociologist who taught at the University of Costa Rica and the UNA, was in El Salvador temporarily to do post-graduate research.


          On March 7, the bodies of Professor Castellanos and his wife Anette were recovered from a shallow grave in a field.


          The Salvadorian authorities have denied any responsibility in the affair.


          The Commission, which had informed the Salvadorian Government of the charge concerning the arrest, asked the authorities for information. The Salvadorian Government still has not replied to the request for information.


e)          Generalized violence in recent months


          The spiral of violence has reached truly alarming levels in El Salvador in 1980. The armed confrontations mentioned earlier by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, terrorist assaults by armed groups of the extreme left and the extreme right, the discovery of bullet-ridden, mutilated bodies, and kidnappings of prominent figures are increasing dramatically.


          Information received by the Inter-American Commission indicates that during the first nine months of 1980, some 6,000 people were probably killed as a result of the increasing violence in the country.


          The El Salvador Commission on Human Rights said, “Life is the exception and death the rule in El Salvador,” in its discussion of the stepped-up violence there.


          Those who argue and struggle for justice and respect for human rights are murdered on the spot, as was the case of the abominable assassination of the Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Arnulfo Romero (which will be discussed in another part of this report) or killed in private homes, as was the case of Mario Zamora Rivas, who was murdered in the early hours of February 23, 1980.


          The Commission regards such events with great concern and has so informed the Salvadorian Government in several communications which have still not been answered satisfactorily. Even worse, the Commission has no knowledge that Government authorities, including the Attorney General and judicial branch, are conducting investigations with the promptness called for by such assassinations.




          Religious freedom is guaranteed as part of the basic legal tenets of El Salvador.


          Despite this, reprehensible acts have been committed that in one way or another affect religious freedom, in that they involve the killing of priests who in their sermons have called for the Salvadorian people to live in peace and harmony with one another and the end of repression against several sectors of society.


          Although many of the instances mentioned cannot be directly charged to Government authorities, they are still the product of the violence prevailing in the country and the ineffectiveness or lack of determination on the part of the Government to control those responsible for these assaults.


          In the Commission’s last report on the situation of human rights in El Salvador, it was recommended that the Government encourage and protect the farm workers and those who cooperate or wish to cooperate with them, such as the churches, and particularly the Catholic Church, in their efforts to organize themselves to exercise their rights and to affirm their dignity. Such is the tenor of the recommendation that the Government take the necessary measures “to prevent continuation of the persecution of the members of the Catholic Church who act in legitimate exercise of their pastoral mission.”


          The Archbishop of San Salvador, Mons. Oscar Arnulfo Romero, had emerged as the major defender of the poor, the peasants, and the human rights in general.


          In February 1980, Mons. Romero denounced the bombing of the Roman Catholic radio station YSAX and the 72 dynamite explosions in the sacristy of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart where he regularly preached.


          In his homily of March 23, 1980, he appealed to the Army, National Guard and police, reminding them that they themselves were part of the people and that the murder of peasants was contrary to human and divine law. He added that the Church was the defender of the rights of God and of human dignity and therefore could not remain silent in the face of such atrocities.


          On March 24, 1980, the Archbishop of San Salvador was assassinated as he said mass in a small chapel in northwest San Salvador. This act, which aroused national and international indignation, is typical of the conditions of violence prevailing in that Central American nation. Several days after, when Mons. Romero was being buried, thousands of people were forced to take refuge in the cathedral when shooting broke out, causing panic and despair. Many people died, some of them suffocated in the crowd. According to some charges, the first shots were fired from government buildings. Other information indicates that the shooting began from amidst the demonstrators themselves who were participating in the funeral.


          On March 27, 1980, the 49th regular session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a statement on the death of Mons. Romero, as follows:


         The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, stunned when it learned of the murder of the Archbishop of San Salvador, Mons. Oscar Arnulfo Romero, expresses its most forceful condemnation of that crime, perpetrated against one of the most distinguished figures in his defense of human dignity and social justice, of which the Commission has had repeated testimony.


         The Commission hopes that this event will be duly investigated and those responsible severely punished.


          The Commission has been informed that the Governing Revolutionary Junta has ordered an investigation of this crime and has requested the assistance of INTERPOL for this purpose. Nevertheless, as of the date of the approval of this report, the results of the investigation are still unknown. The Commission has learned that Judge Atilio Ramírez, who is responsible for the investigation into the assassination of Mons. Romero, has accused Colonel José Medrano and Major Roberto D’Abuisson, former officers of the National Guard and former members of ORDEN, of hiring the assassins. Colonel Medrano and Major D’Abuisson both remain at liberty, whereas an assassination attempt against Judge Ramírez was mde on March 26.


          Another event connected with assaults on the Catholic Church occurred on the night of April 28, 1980, when members of the Army burst into the Catholic Church in San Martín and savagely beat up the sacristan, his wife, the cook and a young man who was in the sacristy. They were blindfolded and ordered to say where the parish priest, José Rutilio Sánchez, the target of ferocious, constant persecution, could be found.


          At 7:00 a.m. on July 3, 1980, 120 national security agents riding in three small tanks and military vehicles with gunnery pieces forcefully entered the Legal Aid office of the Archbishopric, where there is also a primary and secondary Jesuit school.


          The agents made a complete search of the office and confiscated records compiled by Legal Aid dating back to 1975. The military operation lasted virtually all day. According to charges received by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the agents carried away a large number of legal documents concerning consultations on labor, penal and civil matters. They confiscated photographs of Mons. Romero and of the directors and members of Legal Aid.


          In its reply to the Commission, the Government said the case had been transferred to the Inter-Departmental Commission on Social Rights, which was responsible for investigating alleged violations of human rights in El Salvador, and that the Government would inform the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the outcome of its investigation.


          The incidents mentioned are just a few examples of the conditions under which some of the members or institutions of the Catholic Church are living.




          The observance of these rights, which are recognized in articles 5 and 18 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and in Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, is limited by the state of siege decreed by the Government, as mentioned earlier by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.


          The state of siege clearly gives the Government control over the mass media through censorship, restricted access to sources or other means of control generally accepted under emergency conditions, which is acknowledged by Article 27 of the American Convention on Human Rights.


          But since the state of siege was declared, the Commission has been receiving reports or incidents that could not be justified by the decree suspending constitutional guarantees and which are a violation of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and also imply evident violations of other fundamental rights covered in the aforementioned inter-American instruments, the observance and promotion of which was undertaken by the Salvadorian Government.


          As an example, some of these charges are described below:


          i)          On April 2, 1980, two Dutch reporters, Van Vanderpothen and Frank Diamond, were wounded by the police who fired on the vehicle in which the reporters were riding despite the fact that they had identified themselves as members of the press and the car had visible press signs.


          José Napoleón Duarte, a member of the Junta, and Col. Eugenio Vides Casanova, director of the National Guard, visited the reporters.


          On April 12, 1980, the two national guardsmen accused of wounding the reporters were acquitted by a judge because there was insufficient evidence against them.


          ii)          On February 19, 1980, a powerful bomb totally destroyed one of the major radio stations in the country, Church-owned YSAX, which had broadcast the sermons of Mons. Oscar Arnulfo Romero.


          iii)          On June 26, 1980, some 300 individuals, including the leaders of the Revolutionary Committee for Mass Coordination, were trapped, together with national and foreign newsmen, in the basement of a building at the National University of El Salvador. Army and police forces surrounded the university for three hours and then entered the campus shooting. The result was 27 dead, 15 wounded, and 200 arrested.




          Recommendation Nº 8 of the earlier report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urged the Salvadorian Government to take the necessary measures, taking advantage of all resources, to improve the social economic conditions prevailing in the country.


          Government authorities have made many statements of their intention to make significant changes in the social-economic structure of the country. Ernesto Arrieta Peralta, Ambassador Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the OAS, speaking on behalf of the Governing Revolutionary Junta, said on July 10, 1980, that the Junta was attempting to put an end to “the infamous accumulation of wealth, culture and power” which had led to the rending of the social fabric in El Salvador, and added that “the assets produced in El Salvador have been enjoyed and monopolized almost in their entirety by a privileged group, whereas this wealth has been vaunted before the middle and lower classes—they have seen it, it was generated by their toil, but they have not enjoyed it, as a result they have become embittered, frustrated and have reacted with a vengeance.”


          Basically, three important steps have been decreed by the Governing Revolutionary Junta as the means of implementing its program to change the social-economic structure in the country—a) agrarian reform; b) nationalization of private banking institutions; and c) nationalization of foreign trade.


          Because of its special importance, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will deal with agrarian reform.


          El Salvador is known to be the most densely populated country in the American Hemisphere. This, plus the predominantly agrarian focus of Salvadorian society, means that the structure governing settlement and use of the land is extremely important.


          The traditional land tenure system made up of ejidos and communal lands was replaced in 1879 by a new system which eventually led to a large share of arable land becoming the private property of a privileged minority. The latter exploit the land, mainly planted in coffee, for their personal benefit, whereas the immense majority of the peasants, whose numbers have continued to grow because of a radical population explosion, has been bypassed.


          Agrarian reform has become the proof of legitimacy of the Revolutionary Government which proclaimed redistribution of wealth in this polarized society as its goal, thus attempting to take the initiative from left-wing organizations intent upon overthrowing the Junta which they consider has failed to implement the reforms involved to justify replacement of the regime of General Romero.


          Agrarian reform, which the Armed Forces’ proclamation of October 16, 1979, declared was geared to a fair distribution of wealth and improvement in the gross national product, was planned for development in several phases by means of successive decrees that would govern the process step-by-step.


          The first step taken was Decree Nº 43 of December 8, 1979, by means of which the transfer and division of rural property, which was made subject to authorization by the Instituto Salvadoreño de Transformación Agraria, was restricted to individuals who owned between 50 and 100 hectares of land. Subsequently the basic agrarian reform law, found in Decree Nº 153 of March 6, 1980, limited the size of private rural holdings to a maximum of 100 to 150 hectares, depending on the quality and wealth of the land. This assumed expropriation, and compensation either in cash or in government bonds, of 224,083 hectares of land, with buildings, machinery and equipment that would be distributed among the peasant cooperatives into which some 75,000 families would be organized.


          The next phase in the agrarian reform process, which was to eliminate the sharecropping and land leasing system, was set forth in Decree Nº 207 of April 18, 1980, called “the land for El Salvador.” Its intended targets were some 150,000 peasant families who worked the land under those conditions. The landholders affected would also be compensated in the manner already mentioned.


          The implementation of the agrarian reform project, the technical analysis of which is not per se a matter for this Commission, has engendered difficulties and problems. The Governing Revolutionary Junta, on the same day it issued the agrarian reform decree, reestablished the state of siege for the alleged purpose of preventing those forces that would challenge agrarian reform from achieving their purposes.


          The result of this measure, according to charges received by the Commission, was occupation by the armed forces of some of the land affected by the reform. This led to acts of violence in which not a few peasants were affected. Archbishop Romero himself, a few days before he was felled by the bullets of an assassin, said in an interview he gave to a representative of the press that “agrarian reform is good per se, but if it goes hand in hand with repression which distorts the good will implied by the reform, the decree law will not have the people’s support.”


          The Commission, as stated, considers that the technical analysis of the agrarian reform law is not a matter for its jurisdiction. It does recognize the good intentions of the Government, but at the same time considers, as stated in the Commission’s previous report, that any process of change in the social-economic structure of El Salvador must involve participation by all sectors of Salvadorian society. In the case of agrarian reform, participation by the sector most affected, i.e., the peasants, seems unavoidable.




          In the light of the background and considerations stated, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights wishes to express, as a general conclusion, its deep concern over the increasing violence in El Salvador, which from October 15, 1979, up to the date of approval of the present report, has taken a too severe cost in human life and meant a general deterioration in the situation of the human rights set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights.


          These conditions clearly are not consistent with the purposes announced by the Governing revolutionary Junta, which justified its assumption of power by the need for change in the social-economic structure of the country and the deteriorating situation of human rights, as verified in the earlier report of the Commission. But it is also true that the Government, in the face of the violence prevalent in El Salvador today, has been unable to control and overcome a situation which, if continued, will seriously compromise national unity and even the stability of the Central American region.


          The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is particularly concerned over the relative passivity of the government as regards certain armed groups which still maintain ties with former members of security agencies and of the dissolved organization ORDEN and which are apparently responsible for hundreds of killings, and over the absence of adequate, effective investigation of such crimes by the authorities.


          Against this background, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights makes the following recommendations to the Salvadorian Government:


          1)       The adoption of organized action to overcome current violence, which might include, among other measures, the following:


          a)       effective, real steps to disarm private individuals and prevent the entry of weapons from abroad;


          b)       a massive campaign against violence in the schools and the mass media;


          c)       the reopening of the dialogue among all the sectors of Salvadorian society without exception, including, therefore, the dissident forces of the left and of the right, with a view to establishing the conditions that would make it possible in the short term to hold elections which would reveal the true will of the people and legitimatize the Government that wins such an election. For this purpose, a new election law and a reorganized Central Elections Council are needed.


          2)          An exhaustive, rapid investigation of the cases of murder in which past or present members of security agencies have been charged as the instigators or authors, with full sanctions of the law against those shown to be the responsible parties.


          3)          The Commission considers it would be appropriate, upon the invitation or concurrence of the Government and with the cooperation of all Salvadorian sectors, for the Commission to make a new on-site observations for purposes of verifying compliance with the recommendations made in its earlier report and those contained in the present report.


[ Table of Contents | Previous | Next ]