El Salvador: Impunity Prevails in Human Rights Cases

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Despite a decade of promises by government officials to bring to justice those responsible for gross violations of human rights in El Salvador, the impunity of military officers and death squads members remains intact. Although thousands of cases of political killings, torture, and disappearances of civilians at the hands of government forces have been documented, to date, no officer has been convicted of a politically motivated human rights abuse in El Salvador.1 Six officers have been charged in connection with two recent massacres (see below, Massacre at San Francisco and Slayings of Jesuits, Their Cook, and Her Daughter), but have yet to be tried. The following is a status report on nine human rights cases in which prosecutions are still pending. Despite their particular visibility and significance both internationally and within El Salvador, each case is a story of the denial of justice. The way in which each case has unraveled -- investigations never completed or never initiated, trials that never occur, the persecution of witnesses or judicial officials -- sheds light on the impunity of the armed forces and death squads which allows such gross abuses to continue.

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