El Salvador´s plea for forgiveness is a step forward in the case of the Massacre of El Mozote

Justice is still pending for the victims

San Salvador and San Jose, January 17th, 2012- This Monday, President Mauricio Funes apologized to the victims, their families and the people of El Salvador for the massacre of El Mozote and surrounding communities, in which  nearly a thousand victims died in hands of the  Salvadoran army.

The Archdiocese’s Human Rights Office in El Salvador (OTLA) and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) recognize that this public event, held on the twentieth anniversary of the Peace Agreements, represents a historic moment, particularly considering that these facts were denied for years by the Salvadoran authorities. It also represents a first step towards full reparation for the harm caused to the hundreds of victims of the massacre and their families.

Both organizations consider that this event must be followed by effective measures to prosecute and punish those responsible for these crimes, in line with the severity of their acts and for all barriers to this to be eliminated. We therefore believe that the President's words should have been accompanied by an active commitment on behalf of the Public Prosecutor's Office as well as the Judiciary and Legislative authorities present at the event.

Exactly two years ago, President Funes had publicly recognized the responsibility of the State for the grave human rights violations during the internal armed conflict. He also committed to "cooperating with both domestic and international law" and offered all necessary means to solve the crimes under investigation. However, none of the persons alleged to be responsible for these crimes have been brought to trial, including the perpetrators of the Massacre of El Mozote.

OTLA and CEJIL call on the authorities to eliminate the barriers to justice and truth and end impunity. Only then, will yesterday’s historic ceremony bear real meaning for the victims and their families.

Background information on the case

The Massacre in El Mozote and surrounding communities was perpetrated by members of the Atlacatl Battalion and other units of the Armed Forces of El Salvador on 10-13 December 1981, as part of a military action called "Operation Rescue."  The Salvadoran army tortured many victims and subsequently killed hundreds of people from several communities from Meanguera, in the department of Morazán: El Mozote, La Joya, Rancheria Toriles, Cerro Pando and Jocote Amarillo, among others.

OTLA and CEJIL still have a lawsuit against El Salvador for this case pending before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The public hearing is expected to be held mid 2012.

Link to press release commemorating El Mozote 30th Anniversary


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