El Salvador reopens massacre investigation

A court in El Salvador will reopen an investigation into the Mozote massacre of 1981, according to human rights lawyers on the case Oct. 1. Lawyers from the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and other human rights groups requested the investigation on behalf of victims last month. CEJIL and other lawyers urged the Prosecutor General to consider his position opposing the investigation, because the Supreme Court of El Salvador, in striking down the country's amnesty law, recognized that the state has a duty to investigate grave violations of international human rights. The court is requesting information from the military regarding the operations in December 1981, including the identities of military officials in command positions at the time.

In July the Supreme Court of El Salvador struck down the 1993 amnesty law (PDF), opening the way for prosecution of those associated with various war crimes and crimes against humanity during the Salvadoran civil war. This decision will allow El Salvador to follow suit with the US, which has made significant strides over the past decade in prosecuting those involved in the war. In 2011 the Obama administration charged Gen. Eugenio Vides Casanova, former defense minister of El Salvador, for human rights crimes committed during the civil war. Vides was successfully deported from the US in 2015. In 2006 the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld a $55 million verdict against Vides and his co-defendant Jose Guillermo Garcia for allowing torture and other human rights violations during the war. In 2005 a US federal court reached a verdict against Nicolas Carranza, top commander of El Salvador's security forces during the civil war, for $2 million in compensatory damages. The case was brought by five Salvadoran citizens who alleged torture or had family killed by Carranza's soldier during the war.

From Jurist, Oct. 3. Used with permission.