The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is continuing to observe carefully developments in the human rights situation in El Salvador.  In that regard, the Commission reiterates that it has followed with special interest the peace process and the objectives attained after signature of the Peace Agreements concluded between the Salvadoran Government and the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN).


          This report contains an overall assessment of the most recent developments in El Salvador, following up on the Commission's February 1994 Report on the Situation of Human Rights in El Salvador.


          I.          BACKGROUND


          The 1994 Special Report summarized the human rights situation in El Salvador during the eighties, taking into account the sections in Chapter IV of the Commission's Annual Reports.  Regarding the human rights situation in that decade, the Commission has stated:


          Year after year the Commission called attention to the problems with the judiciary and its lack of resources -- in the most liberal sense of the word -- even the occasional opposition to strengthening that branch of government, and a strikingly uneven standard of living, where so much of the population lacks the basic services needed to satisfy their most elementary needs.  The recommendations to improve these areas were made in the hope and the belief that action on those recommendations would do much to improve the observance of the fundamental rights and guarantees embodied in the American Convention on Human Rights, which El Salvador ratified and of which it is, therefore, a State Party.[1]


          Similarly, the 1994 Special Report noted the importance of the peace process and its relevance to human rights.  In that regard, the Commission recalled in its report that between 1979 and 1992 it has "repeatedly called for a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the internal strife."[2]


          In the context of the Peace Agreements, the Commission stressed their importance and impact in the human rights area, in the following terms:


          These agreements basically concern four major issues vital to effective enjoyment of and respect for human rights:  the armed forces; the judiciary; the electoral system, and the Truth Commission.[3]


          II.          STRUCTURE OF THIS REPORT


          The areas to be analyzed in this report are those mentioned by the Commission's 1994 Special Report on El Salvador.  Although progress has been made, those areas continue to show delays and problems in implementation.  The Commission points out that, pursuant to its mandate, it must stress those areas of human rights in which there has not been as much progress as would be desirable, or in which new situations have emerged threatening basic rights, and where the Government's response does not meet the requirements established in the American Convention on Human Rights.


          The analysis in this report concentrates on new occurrences of violence, problems in the administration of justice, and compliance with the Peace Agreements.  These are basic issues to which due attention must be paid to avoid endangering the rights of Salvadoran citizens and the peace process being consolidated.


          In particular, mention is made of the resurgence in 1993 and in the first half of 1994 of illegal armed groups with similar characteristics to those of the so-called peace squads.  In July 1994, the Salvadoran Government and ONUSAL published the Report of the Joint Group for Investigating Politically Motivated Illegal Armed Groups.


          The present Commission's report on El Salvador also refers to the status of justice administration of the country, particularly in the penitentiaries, where grave incidents have occurred in recent months.


          To obtain the valuable contribution of the Salvadoran Government for the preparation of this report, the Commission sent a request on October 25, 1994 for up-to-date information on progress and problems in the human rights situation in El Salvador.  In its reply, the Salvadoran Government informed the Commission about newly adopted laws in areas important for the observance of human rights in the country.


          Among the laws mentioned by the Government are Decree Nº 9 of May 26, 1994 ("Interim Law to Streamline the Issuance of Titles for Rural Property Included in the Land Transfer Program"), and Decree Nº 126 of September 8, 1994 ("Interim Law on Measures and Guarantees for the Application of the Land Transfer Program and Security of Farm Property").


          Mention should also be made, in connection with the policy of strengthening the judiciary, that the Salvadoran Government enacted Decision No. 1 of July 29, 1993 ("Regulations for the Law of the National Council of the Judiciary"), Decree 573 of December 15, 1993 ("Emergency Law to Resolve the Problem of Untried Prisoners"), and Legislative Decrees No. 133, 134, 135, and 136 of September 14, 1994 ("Procedural Family Law," "Amendments to the Judicial Organic Law," "Amendments to the Minor Offenders Law" -- entending its effective date until March 1995 --, and "Creation of Family Courts," respectively.


          Regarding the National Civilian Police, the Salvadoran Government enacted Decree Nº 742 of December 8, 1993 ("Establishment of the Criminal Investigations Division of the National Civilian Police, the Criminal Investigations Commission") and Decree Nº 32 of April 22, 1994 ("Disciplinary Regulations of the National Civilian Police").


          The Commission wishes to stress that the number of individual petitions submitted to it alleging human rights violations by the Salvadoran Government has declined appreciably.  That may be due to a number of factors, such as the end of the armed conflict and readjustment of Salvadoran institutions, which have generated a much more propitious climate for the observance of human rights in that country.  Also, the presence of ONUSAL in El Salvador and the work that its Human Rights Division has been carrying out, including the receipt of complaints, has resulted in victims filing their petitions with that organization.


          In fact, the UN Human Rights Division has noted that complaints have been declining in 1994, while those submitted to the Office of the Attorney Delegate for the Defense of Human Rights have begun to increase, owing to the gradual dismantling of the Mission, which is scheduled to be terminated on April 30, 1995.  The Commission notes this trend with satisfaction, because it is the domestic authorities that have the duty of protecting and promoting human rights in El Salvador, and when the internal remedies are exhausted, the Commission has a role to play, which in any case would be subsidiary to the State's primary responsibility.


          The Commission observed with satisfaction the conduct of the first presidential, legislative and municipal elections that took place in El Salvador after the signing of the 1992 Peace Agreements.  In the election campaign, the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN) participated for the first time as a political party.  In fair and free elections, according to international observers, Dr. Armando Calderón Sol was elected President of the Republic.


          Moreover, it is to be noted, as the Commission has repeatedly stated, that the duties and authorities assigned to it by the American Convention cannot be modified or suspended by the presence of a temporary international agency such as ONUSAL, or by the formation of such entities as the Truth Commission for El Salvador or the Joint Group.  As was stated in the 1994 Special Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Commission may refer, among other things, to the information obtained by ONUSAL to assess and evaluate the present situation in El Salvador, should that be necessary.  In this regard, the Commission has stated:


          Monitoring and analyzing events since the Agreements were signed, not just in light of the political commitments made by the country but also its obligations under treaties, has basically been the responsibility of the United Nations verification bodies. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights refers to those bodies the purely factual aspects of the performance of the commitments undertaken by the negotiating parties. With these basic terms of reference, the IACHR will make its evaluations and the pertinent recommendations, in exercise of its authority under Article 41 of the Convention.[4]


          Similarly, the Commission also feels that the reports drawn up by the Truth Commission and by the Joint Group can be used as authorized sources of information.[5]




          The Commission has on several occasions voiced its deep concern at the situation of the right to life in El Salvador, and a previous report pointed out that "the areas in which nonobservance of human rights has been most severe are those referring particularly to the right to life."[6]


          The situation in El Salvador regarding guarantees for the right to life and humane treatment has appreciably improved since signature of the Peace Agreements, particularly with regard to torture and forced disappearances.


          The Commission notes with great satisfaction it has been informed that since October 1992 no forced disappearances have occurred in El Salvador.  Similarly, the number of complaints received by ONUSAL for violations of the right to life have been continually declining since September 1991.


          However, the general climate of security for citizens began to deteriorate in 1993.  The number of common crimes increased by 300% between January and September 1993.[7]  Also, there was a resurgence of arbitrary executions by the illegal groups known as death squads.[8]


          According to information provided to the Commission, the situation regarding violations of the right to life and to humane treatment, by illegal armed groups structured as organized crime groups or as political crime groups, began to improve in the first half of 1994.  However, the situation of public safety from common criminals did not change.


          a.          Report of the Joint Group


          The presidential elections in El Salvador were on the whole conducted in a tense but peaceful atmosphere.  The tense atmosphere was due to the background of violence by illegal armed groups against persons who took part in the armed conflict.


          Based on these occurrences of violence, ONUSAL and the Salvadoran Government set up the Joint Group[9] in late 1993, with the mandate to conduct an investigation on this matter and make recommendations thereon.  Its report was published in July 1994.[10]


          The Report establishes the "possible reactivation" of politically motivated illegal armed groups, which have primarily attacked political leaders of the FMLN and ARENA.  The Joint Group considered it necessary to address the subject of groups having the characteristics of death squads[11] as well as groups that, although they cannot be placed in the same category as death squads, have a "structure and operating modality that could easily be directed toward criminal activities with political objectives."


          In the Joint Group's view, the politically motivated illegal armed groups can be characterized by their method of operation (modus operandi), the profile of their victims and the impunity of their crimes.  Some crimes have appeared to be "disguised" as common crimes, hiding their real motive by stealing objects of value from the victims.


          The Commission notes that the reports mentioned suggest that, unlike what happened during the armed conflict, the "illegal armed groups" identified no longer continue to have an active and symbiotic relationship with the Government, but their operations are tolerated by some agents of the State as "private political violence," a situation described as follows:


          [This is] a phenomenon that produces certain acts of politically motivated violence, but neither criminal organizations nor agents of the government take part in them.  These are rather situations in which certain criminal acts are due to 'evening the score.'   As such cases are properly investigated and punished, and taking into account the spirit of national reconciliation that is seen in various sectors of the society, it is hoped that this phenomenon will gradually disappear.[12]


          Press reports gathered by the Commission have identified some death squads, known as follows:  "Maximiliano Hernández Martínez Anticommunist Brigade," "Anticommunist Political Front," "Freedom or Slavery Patriotic Association," "Salvadoran Proletariat Brigade," "Salvadoran Anticommunist Brigade," "White Warriors Union," "Death Squad - EM," "Organization for Liberation from Communism," "Anticommunist Front for the Liberation of Central America (FALCA)," "White Hand," and "Caribbean Legion."


          The Joint Group Report confidentially gave the names of some persons regarding whom evidence was obtained indicating their participation in such illegal groups, which should be investigated to establish possible responsibility.  On this subject, the Report said:


          . . . According to the Joint Group's terms of reference, in submitting this report confidentially, the entire conduct of its investigations, including the names of persons identified in the documents obtained, are being made available to the President of the Republic, the Vice Minister for Public Security and the Attorney General of the Republic for them to continue and extend their investigations.  At the same time, this information is being turned over to the office of the Attorney Delegate for the Defense of Human Rights and the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador for supervision and verification of it.[13]


          The findings of the investigations that the Salvadoran Government is to conduct through the judiciary are of great concern and are awaited expectantly.  This is a critical step in the present juncture, since, in addition to the obvious judicial impact on the persons alleged to be responsible, this is perhaps the most important matter in which the Salvadoran Government must show its renewed determination in the human rights area.


          In general, the judicial investigations should be directed at dismantling the structures of organized crime, which still continue in El Salvador, and which are a latent threat for consolidation of the peace process.


          It should be mentioned that after the Joint Group was set up, complaints about violence perpetrated by illegal armed groups declined sharply.  In fact, from July 1 to September 30, 1994, according to information received by the Commission, no politically motivated violations of the right to life were reported; there is no evidence that this type of politically motivated violations have been perpetrated in 1994 after the above mentioned period of time.  This clearly shows that investigation of such acts as those reported have an immediate deterrent effect, which helped considerably to generate a climate of peace.  However, El Salvador's permanent institutional organizations must carry out the work of investigating and punishing these crimes, because when such work is done by ad hoc agencies, they achieve only short term objectives in the peace process.


          b.          Some Violent Acts


          Members of ARENA and FMLN have been murdered in a trend that began in late 1993 and continued in 1994, although, according to information furnished to the Commission, there is no evidence in many of these cases that they were politically motivated.  The numbers of them may not be alarming compared to previous periods, but the trend in the context of a peace process is worrisome.


          The murder of ARENA members, such as Marvin García on November 22, 1993, and the murders of former combatants of the FMLN in 1993, such as Oscar Grimaldi on August 19, 1993 or Francisco Velis on October 25, 1993, are possible examples of the political violence that has occurred after signature of the Peace Agreements.  Recently, on November 10, 1994, David Marino, former member of the FMLN was murdered.  Two of his companions, Pablo Parada and Carlos Cortés, were wounded in the attack.


          Other events adversely affected the observance of the right to life.  In late November 1994, serious incidents occurred during a transport workers strike in San Miguel.  During street disorders, law enforcement officers intervened, and three persons were killed.  It is highly important for the Government to give proper attention to such situations because they are symptoms of latent conflicts for which the Government's response, through the National Civilian Police, should be appropriate and measured to protect the life and personal safety of its citizens and to punish those who commit atrocities.


          The Commission trusts that penal investigations of this type of crime will not allow such acts to be perpetrated with impunity and that those responsible will be punished in accordance with the law.




          Regarding the right to own property, it should be mentioned that the guarantee of human rights includes "progressive achievement of full observance of the rights deriving from economic, and social norms."  In that regard, the program for transfer of land to those demobilized in the framework of the reintegration of former combatants of the armed forces and the FMLN is an essential element in effective implementation of the obligations deriving from Article 2 (Domestic Legal Effects) and Article 26 of the American Convention in the framework of consolidating the peace process.


          Also, transfer of land, and effective technical and financial aid constitute a step toward structural implementation of the guarantee of the right to own land, in the broadest sense, and at the same time, is the point of departure for application of Article 21 of the American Convention.


          However, transfer of land to former combatants is the program that has suffered the most delays under the Peace Agreements, which had scheduled completion of the process by April 1995.  From April to August 1994, the transfer program was virtually paralyzed.  Currently, it has not even succeeded in meeting the targets set for late 1993.


          Although on August 18, 1994, the Government presented a plan to speed up land transfer, serious incidents have occurred in carrying that out.  The delay in this effort has caused unrest among potential beneficiaries, and violent protests by groups not included as beneficiaries in the Peace Agreements.


          The Commission noted, for example, the takeover of the Legislative Assembly by demobilized armed forces members on September 26, 1994, who demanded, among other things, that former members of the paramilitary groups[14] be included in the land transfer process.  Other former combatants in the process of reintegration into civilian life held protest demonstrations on December 15, 1994, because of the delays mentioned.  These incidents are a sample of what should be prevented by effective and prompt implementation of the Peace Agreements in this area.




          a.          Judicial System


          Regarding the development of the judicial system in El Salvador and within the framework of the Peace Agreements, it should be pointed out that justice administration should be one of the cornerstones of strengthening the peace and of Salvadoran reconciliation.  The basic purpose of this important task should be to do away with the impunity of criminal acts and to regain public confidence.


          The Commission has noted with concern statistics from a rural and urban survey conducted in the second two weeks of August, 1994.[15]  These figures show how public confidence in the authorities' ability to control common crime is still very low.  A clear-cut example is that 72.6% of robbery victims have not reported the crime to the authorities.  In only 24% of the cases reported to the authorities were the complaints clarified or arrests made.  In the remaining 72.5%, no investigation was made.  From February 1993 to August 1994, public perception of crime levels has not changed appreciably.


          The Commission has also received statistics from ONUSAL to the same effect.  In particular, it calls attention to the fact that a desirable level of confidence by Salvadorans in their system of justice has not yet been achieved.  Twenty-five percent of complainants, for example, prefer not to take their cases to court because of lack of confidence or because of fear.[16]  Of cases that have been taken to court, pretrial proceedings have been held in only 47%.  In fact, from July 1992 to July 1994, no person has been convicted or sentenced in any of the 75 most serious cases reported to ONUSAL.


          The Salvadoran Government must increase its efforts to strengthen the administration of justice because the present evidence is unsatisfactory in the face of the enormous challenge in re-establishing the credibility of the judiciary.


          The Commission stresses the important renewal of the Supreme Court, the first step of which was the appointment of new justices to the bench.  The new membership of the Court has received widespread acceptance in various sectors of Salvadoran society, which is a positive sign of the recovery of credibility and confidence in the administration of justice.


          The Supreme Court and the National Council of the Judiciary must play a key role in promoting reforms to the judicial system.  Reforms should include internal purging of the judiciary and proper operation of the Attorney General's office and the Institute of Forensic Medicine.


          It is especially necessary to consider, among the reforms required in the judiciary, a reduction in the period allowed for detention, after the detainee has been brought before judicial authorities, which currently is 72 hours.  The American Convention says in article 7.5, that "Any person detained shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power."  (our underlining).  This rule basically indicates that the detainee should be brought before judicial authorities immediately.  Any period established for detention is only the maximum time period for cases in which for exceptional reasons, this cannot be done immediately.


          The need should also be stressed for repealing the old 1886 Police Law and reassigning to the judicial authorities jurisdiction to hear the offenses covered in that law.


          It is also especially urgent to approve new penal codes and codes of penal procedure as well as a new penitentiary law and judicial career law.  As these efforts continue to be delayed, solutions for the various problems identified in the administration of justice will lack a basic legal foundation.


          The Commission will continue monitoring those efforts in the judiciary closely in the hope that in the short run the overall situation will substantially improve.


          b.          Situation of the Penitentiary System


          In addition, the Commission is concerned at the fact that in recent months serious problems and incidents have occurred in the Salvadoran penitentiary system, which, according to reports received, have resulted in the injury or death of dozens of prisoners in riots and uprisings.


          These incidents are due, among other things, to crowding, failure to classify inmates by security level, and lack of basic services.  One of the most proximate causes of these defects is inefficiency and slowness in administration of justice.


          This situation in the penitentiaries also affects various prisoners' rights.  The crowding and lack of minimum services affects the rights of prisoners to be treated with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person (Article 5.2).  For unconvicted prisoners (80% of inmates in El Salvador), the American Convention stipulates that they should be given separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons and should be segregated from convicted inmates (Article 5.4).  Another basic right of prisoners that is affected by the present situation in the penitentiaries is the right to life (Article 4), because of the tragic results of the riots in the prisons.


          The situation of the prison system is one of the symptoms of the crisis in the administration of justice itself, and is one of the most important indicators of progress that might be made in strengthening justice in El Salvador.


          It should be borne in mind that the legal system governing Salvadoran penitentiaries is now being reformed.  In June 1994, the Salvadoran President submitted to the Legislative Assembly a penitentiary bill.  It was not enacted in 1994, which is a source of deep concern for the Commission, so it urges the appropriate authorities to take steps to have the law enacted in the near future.


          Obviously, passage of the penitentiary law is one of the steps urgently needed to overcome the crisis.  However, administration of justice must be reformed as a whole to seek long term solutions.


          Some cases the Commission has learned about, illustrate the worrisome situations that have been occurring in the Salvadoran penitentiary system since late 1993, such as the following:


          -        October 29-30, 1993:  Prison of San Francisco Gotera (Department of Morazán).  Prisoners' riot, with three dead and several wounded.


          -        November 19, 1993:  Prison of San Francisco Gotera.  Another riot, with 27 inmates killed and 37 seriously wounded.


          According to information provided to the Commission, serious incidents have continued to occur in prisons in 1994, some of which are mentioned below:


          -        January 17, 1994:  Prison of San Sensutepeque and Cabañas.  Riots because of poor conditions.  One week after, new incidents occurred, with two inmates wounded.


          -        February 24, 1994:  Santa Ana Prison.  Riot, with seven inmates dead and a dozen wounded.


          -        March 12, 1994:  Atiquiziya Prison.  Prisoners riot because of poor conditions of detention.


          -        May 21, 1994: "La Esperanza" Prison of San Luis Mariona.  Riot with 1 inmate dead.  (presently the prison has a capacity for 800 inmates, but has population of 2400 inmates)


          -        June 2, 1994: Tonacatepeque Prison.  Riot resulting in the destruction of 30% of the prison building.


          -        August 19, 1994: "La Esperanza" Prison of San Luis Mariona.  Riot with 12 inmates and one guard dead and 23 wounded persons.


          -        August 21, 1994: La Union Prison.  Riot with 3 dead and 18 wounded.


          -        August 25, 1994: San Vicente Prison.  Riot resulting in the destruction of 50%  of the prison building and 15 wounded.


          Regarding these incidents, the Commission trusts that appropriate investigations will be concluded to clarify the facts and establish responsibility for the incidents.  In particular, it is essential, according to complaints by several Salvadoran organizations, to determine whether omission or negligence by Government officials has contributed to the riots by not taking precautions against them.


          c.       Office of the Attorney Delegate for the Defense of Human Rights


          The Office of the Attorney Delegate for the Defense of Human Rights is particularly important in consolidating the Salvadoran peace process and in promoting and protecting human rights.  There is a natural connection between the work of this office and that of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, although there are clear formal differences, since the Commission is an international organization with duties subsidiary to those of domestic authorities.


          Since 1994, the Office of the Attorney Delegate has been gradually increasing its human rights work.  Complaints that previously were filed with the ONUSAL Human Rights Division, have begun to be addressed to the Office of the Attorney Delegate, which is natural and desirable in view of the withdrawal of that international body, as mentioned above.


          The Commission considers that functional and financial strengthening of the Office of the Attorney Delegate should be a priority target of the Salvadoran Government, because, according to information received, it still does not have, two years after its establishment, sufficient qualified logistic support staff to carry out properly the work assigned to it.


          d.          The National Civilian Police-PNC


          The establishment of the National Civilian Police (PNC) and its gradual deployment throughout El Salvador, as well as the dismantling of the former National Police, is another of the important human rights issues covered in the Peace Agreements.


          In January 1994, the Government had announced the suspension of the demobilization of the National Police, arguing the increase in common crime previously mentioned in this report.  However, during the year, the deployment of the PNC continued, along with demobilization of the National Police, which was completed in January 12, 1995.  The Commission considers that proper attention should be paid to purging the ranks of the PNC.


          The Commission has learned with concern about abuses by members of the National Civilian Police.  Their conduct has been more a matter of lack of expertise in the use of force than of premeditated politically motivated violence.  The Salvadoran Government must take whatever steps it regards as appropriate to prevent, investigate and punish these actions by individual members of that force, in addition to compensating the victims, where appropriate.  In this connection, it is important to mention the recent appointment of the PNC Inspector General, since that official ought to serve as a  prevention and internal control mechanism that will help strengthen the police force.


          The PNC is bound to play a fundamental role in consolidating the Salvadoran peace process and in strengthening security for the public, which is now seriously affected by the high rates of common crime, in addition to it being an absolutely essential auxiliary instrument of justice in eliminating the impunity of criminal acts and guaranteeing human rights.  However, up to August 1994, the Commission received information showing that the PNC's efficiency in investigating and resolving robbery cases has not improved over that of the National Police.[17]




          It is highly important to repeat the Commission's calls for the Salvadoran Government to fully comply with its obligations contracted under the American Convention on Human Rights, of which it is a party.  This involves complying with the Commission's recommendations contained in reports on individual cases, and the recommendations in the general reports and special reports.


          Pursuant to the powers given it by the American Convention on Human Rights and in accordance with the case law of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights [18], the Commission considers it extremely important to stress and reiterate that the General Amnesty Law for the Consolidation of Peace of March 20, 1993, violates the American Convention, in the same terms as mentioned in the Report on the Situation of Human Rights in El Salvador in 1994:


          . . . based on these considerations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights believes that regardless of any necessity that the peace negotiations might pose and irrespective of purely political considerations, the very sweeping General Amnesty Law passed by El Salvador's Legislative Assembly constitutes a violation of the international obligations it undertook when it ratified the American Convention on Human Rights, because the law makes possible a 'reciprocal amnesty' without first acknowledging responsibility (despite the recommendations of the Truth Commission); because it applies to crimes against humanity, and because it eliminates any possibility of obtaining adequate pecuniary compensation, primarily for victims.[19]


          Therefore, the Commission recommends that the Salvadoran Government take the necessary steps to repeal the Amnesty Law mentioned, in accordance with the points made herein, in order to investigate and punish those responsible for violating the basic rights of persons and to compensate the victims.





          The Commission recognizes the progress in human rights El Salvador has made since signing the Peace Agreements.  Institutional reforms have now been started in areas important for human rights (administration of justice, penal legislation, National Civilian Police, military forces and transfer of land, among other).  The Commission considers these reforms to be very positive and trusts that they will be completed satisfactorily in the near future.


          It is the Commission's view that consolidation of the peace process still requires ongoing monitoring by the international community, particularly in view of the fact that ONUSAL's mandate in El Salvador is to end on April 30, 1995.  The fragility of the process is still evident, so it is essential, in assisting the Government in its efforts, to maintain and multiply the efforts of the international community in the country.


          Similarly, the democratic process and the protection of human rights require broad participation by the civil society in peaceful debate and support of the Government institutions that are now being renewed.  The Commission urges all community leaders in the country to perform their duty as principal actors in this process, as persons entitled to fundamental rights and as those responsible for consolidating the peace and respect for human rights in El Salvador.


          The Commission also considers that compliance with the recommendations on human rights made by various international governmental agencies that have acted in the framework of the Peace Agreements would represent a major step in consolidating and improving democracy in El Salvador.


          Moreover, the Commission calls upon the Salvadoran Government to renew its commitment to respect and guarantee human rights in that country, by strengthening its relations with the inter-American system for protecting and promoting human rights.  In that regard, the Commission receives with satisfaction the deposit of the OAS instrument of ratification from El Salvador of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture on December 5, 1994, and urges it to ratify those human rights treaties of the inter-American system that are still pending, which would assist in attaining the goal indicated.


          In addition, acceptance of the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights is a highly important step, and since it is very concrete, it would be a real demonstration of the Salvadoran Government's current commitment to human rights.  In other words, this is a step that, unlike others, does not require resources to be available for implementing it, but requires only real and present political will and confidence in the process of democratic consolidation in El Salvador.


          Likewise, it is highly important for the Salvadoran Government to give its acquiescence for the Commission to make an on-site visit to that country.  The Commission has expressed its interest many times in making such a visit, and repeats its willingness to directly verify and learn about developments in the Salvadoran situation regarding the observance, promotion and defense of human rights.


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    [1]  Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Report on the Situation of Human Rights in El Salvador, 1994, page 1 (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.85, Doc. 28 rev, February 11, 1994).

    [2]    Idem, p. 1.

    [3]    Idem, p. 14.

    [4]  Idem, p. 19.

    [5]  Regarding the Truth Commission, the IACHR said in its 1994 Special Report on El Salvador that "inasmuch as the work of the Truth Commission and its specific recommendations are directly related to the international commitments undertaken by El Salvador in the human rights area by virtue of its ratification of such instruments as the American Convention on Human Rights, the IACHR can only urge again that the Truth Commission's recommendations be implemented, and call upon the Salvadoran authorities to promptly take the specific measures dealing fundamentally with the administration of justice, administrative punishment for the persons found responsible, and compensation for victims."  (p. 43).

    [6]  Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, Annual Report 1987-1988, p. 317.  (OEA/Ser.L/V/II.74 Doc.10 rev.1, 16 September 1988).

    [7]  United Nations, ONUSAL, IX Report of the Director of the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador, (August 1 - October 31, 1993), p. 31.

    [8]  Idem, ps. 1 and 4.

    [9]  The Joint Group was composed of two representatives of the Salvadoran Government, the Office of the Attorney Delegate for Defense of Human Rights and the Director of the ONUSAL Division of Human Rights.

    [10]  See Report of the Joint Group for Investigating Politically Motivated Illegal Armed Groups in El Salvador, July 28, 1994.

    [11]  The Joint Group Report used the definition of "death squadrons" that the Truth Commission used in drafting its report.  It calls them "organizations of groups of persons usually dressed in civilian clothes, heavily armed, who act clandestinely and hide their affiliation or identity. . ., linked to government structures by active participation or by tolerance" and that ceased to be a marginal phenomenon and became an instrument of terror and systematic elimination of political opponents."  (Report of the Truth Commission on El Salvador, p. 139).

    [12]  Report of the Joint Group, p. 62.

    [13]  Idem, p. 28.

    [14]  The minimum estimate of former members of paramilitary groups is 50,000.  Other figures go as high as 250,000.

    [15]  Foreign Broadcast Information Service, Latin America FBIS-LAT-94-217, November 9, 1994.  Referring to surveys conducted by the University Institute of Public Opinion of the Central American University.

    [16]  ONUSAL, July 1994 XI Report of the Director of the Human Rights Division of the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador (March 1, 1994 to June 30, 1994), p. 13.

    [17]  See supra footnote 43.

    [18]  In Advisory Opinion OC-14/94 of December 9, 1994, the Court has reiterated what it said in its Advisory Opinion OC-13/93, in pointing out that the Commission actually has the authority to establish whether a law violates the American Convention without having to make such a declaration in the framework of an individual case that the Commission is processing, so as to comply with its duties of promoting and protecting human rights:  "The Commission may recommend to the State the repeal or amendment of a law violating the Convention, and for that purpose, it is sufficient that such a law comes to the Commission's notice by any means, whether or not the law is applied in a specific case.   This opinion and recommendation may be conveyed by the Commission directly to the State (Art. 41.b) or in the report referred to in Articles 49 and 50 of the Convention."

    [19]  IACHR Special Report 1994, p. 77.