SAN SALVADOR (3 May 2019) – A UN expert today urged the Salvadoran authorities to sharpen focus on justice and further urgent measures to help victims of gross human rights violations during the country’s past armed conflict.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition, Fabián Salvioli, said progress in the past decade was welcome, especially the Supreme Court’s rejection of an amnesty law in 2016, but only more action could help redress the legacy of abuses.
“The current violence and the tearing of the social fabric are clear examples that society cannot lead to a future of peace and progress without addressing past difficulties and learning from its mistakes,” said Salvioli.
“The violations suffered by the victims of the armed conflict are unacceptable. The helplessness in which they find themselves more than 30 years later is also unacceptable. While I recognise the steps taken in the last decade in transitional justice, much remains to be done, and must be done now.”
In 1993, a UN-backed Truth Commission report documented the cases of more than 75,000 people who were tortured, killed or forcibly disappeared during the civil war from 1980 to 1992.
The Special Rapporteur welcomed the creation of two commissions to search for disappeared children and adults, public apologies in some cases, the adoption of a public policy on the investigation of crimes during the armed conflict, and the progress in the judicial case of the 1981 El Mozote massacre in which almost 1,000 people were killed.
But other developments were very concerning, Salvioli said, such as the possibility of an amnesty de jure or de facto in contravention of international human rights obligations, the delays of the Office of the Attorney-General in investigating violations during the armed conflict, blocked access to the military archives of the conflict years, and the inadequacy of reparation and historical memory processes.
He urged authorities to fully investigate past violations, step up the search for disappeared persons and punish those responsible. Reparation for victims, an intersectional and intergenerational debate about the events of the past, and the recognition of a common historical memory of Salvadoran society were other priorities.
During a 10-day visit to the country, Salvioli met government officials, civil society and human rights representatives, victims and survivors, and visited massacre memorial sites in El Mozote, El Calabozo and San Francisco Angulo.
"Testimonies recounted unimaginable crimes perpetrated against thousands of children, elderly people, women and men, and of the pain that is as real as the first day,” said Salvioli, reminding the State of its international and national obligations and of the need to act urgently to provide responses to victims.
The Special Rapporteur will submit a full report on the visit to the Human Rights Council in 2020.
Mr. Fabian Salvioli (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in 2018 as the Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence. He is a human rights lawyer and professor. Fabián Salvioli is professor of International Law and Human Rights at the School of Law of the University of La Plata. He has lectured in many countries and universities across the Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia. Mr. Salvioli has authored several books and articles on international human rights law. He was member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee between 2009 and 2016, and its President between 2015 and 2016. As a Special Rapporteur, Mr. Salvioli is part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.