30 years after El Mozote: Still no justice for one of Latin America´s largest massacres

The case will be presented to the Inter-American Court at a hearing in 2012

Morazán, El Salvador, 12 de febrero del 2011. Paulina Martínez y José Calasanz descansan junto al monumento a las víctimas de  la masacre de El Mozote y sitios aledaños. Ambos son familiares de algunas de las personas asesinadas, cuyo número se calcula en unas 966 víctimas.

Washington D.C and San Salvador, December 9, 2011- The undersigned organizations pay a sincere tribute to the hundreds of victims and their families, as well as the hundreds of internally displaced as a result of the El Mozote Massacre. The mass murder of 966 men, women, and children (number of victims identified thus far) was the largest massacre perpetrated by the Salvadoran Army during the country’s internal armed conflict (1980-1992) and one of the bloodiest in Latin America’s recent history.

On the 30th anniversary of the massacre, surviving victims continue to vindicate their rights to the truth, justice, and reparation. However, none of those responsible for carrying out the massacre have yet been prosecuted for their actions.

The Archdiocese’s human rights office in El Salvador (OTLA) and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) have filed a complaint before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights on behalf of the victims of the massacre. It is expected that the hemisphere’s Highest Court will convene a hearing on the case in 2012.

As the anniversary of these lamentable events approaches, the undersigned organizations highlight the courage of those who have fought to reveal the truth about the events of El Mozote. We especially commemorate María Julia Hernández, former Director of OTLA, and Rufina Amaya, whose brave testimony unveiled the events that took place at El Mozote. They both fought, up until their deaths, for the attainment of justice - one that has not yet been achieved.

We, the undersigned, also recognize the dignity of the victims of the massacre and endorse the message on the monument built in the community by the victims’ relatives and the contribution of human rights organizations. ‘‘They have not perished. They are with us, with you, and with all of humanity.’’

Background information on the case

The massacre of El Mozote and surrounding areas, carried out by members of the Atlacatl Batallion and other units of the Armed Forces of El Salvador within the framework of the military operation, ‘‘Operación Rescate,’’  took place from December 11 - 13, 1981. The Salvadoran Army tortured many of the victims and assassinated hundreds of villagers from various communities (El Mozote, La Joya, Ranchería, Toriles, Cerro Pando, Jocote Amarillo, and others) in the municipality of Meanguera, department of Morazán.

OTLA made continuous efforts to have the crimes investigated, however the case was closed on September 1993 by Salvadoran courts, who established that a general amnesty law (Ley de Amnistía General para la Consolidación de la Paz) approved that year exempted those responsible for crimes committed during the internal armed conflict in El Salvador, including grave violations of human rights.



Oficina de Tutela Legal del Arzobispado de San Salvador (Tutela Legal)

Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)

Asociación Pro-Búsqueda de Niñas y Niños Desaparecidos (Pro-Búsqueda)

Instituto de Derechos Humanos de la Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas” (IDHUCA)

Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho (FESPAD)


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