National reconciliation law stalls

The proposal for a law of national reconciliation in El Salvador, which is opposed by human rights organizations representing the victims and many others, has stalled for now in El Salvador's National Assembly.

On Monday, the Political Commission of the legislature held a full day of hearing from a variety of groups representing victims, churches, the military and academia.   Having been widely criticized for spending months drafting the law without any input from victims, the Political Commission could now be seen as staging a one day spectacle to show it had gathered input from all sectors before proceeding to a vote.   Given the number of groups scheduled, presentations were limited to 20 minutes which opponents to the proposal described as insufficient.

Going into Tuesday, the question was whether the FMLN would continue to have its 23 vote block support the bill.  The FMLN held a press conference on Tuesday indicating that it was committed to a methodology of getting additional input from all sectors of society in the development of a law.   The practical effect of this new position of the FMLN is that a law could not be approved this week in time for Sanchez Ceren to sign it. 

Also on Tuesday, the president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a ruling at the request of the plaintiff victims in the El Mozote case.  The ruling requires the government of El Salvador to stop working on such a law:
Require the State of El Salvador, in accordance with the provisions of Consideration 42 of this Order, to immediately suspend the legislative process to guarantee the right to access to justice for the victims of the Masacres case in El Mozote and surrounding areas of the draft "Special Law of Transitional and Restorative Justice for National Reconciliation" that is currently in the Political Committee of the Legislative Assembly, until the Plenary of the Inter-American Court learns of and pronounces on this request for provisional measures during its next session.
(It would not be the first time, however, if El Salvador ignores a ruling of the IACHR).

So for now it appears there will be no law approved in the near future regarding the justice to be applied to those who committed crimes against humanity during El Salvador's long and bloody civil conflict.  This does not mean an end to impunity, however.   Since the nullification of the 1993 amnesty law in 2016, there has been scant progress on any war crimes trial other than the El Mozote case.   An under-resourced and un-enthused attorney generals' office seems destined to bring few to justice before they pass away of old age.


Greg said…
As with the Nazi war criminals - as long as they know they will be hunted until they draw their last breath - then Justice remains inviolate.