Guatemala and El Salvador discuss amnesty for war criminals


Guatemala and El Salvador discuss amnesty for war criminals

Andrea Lobo

9 April 2019

The Salvadoran and Guatemalan legislatures are simultaneously discussing amnesty bills regarding war crimes and human rights abuses during the counterinsurgency wars waged by the brutal US-backed dictatorships between 1960 and the 1990s.

For decades, survivors and supporters of the hundreds of thousands of victims have pursued investigations and prosecutions hoping to expose the truth, hold accountable those responsible and lay the basis for others never to suffer the same fate.

Jesús, a survivor who lost his mother, father, brother and four-year-old son in a 1982 massacre by a US-trained Salvadoran death squad, told Amnesty International, “At night, I felt that I was not crying, but others said I was crying. I didn’t feel like I was crying. It took years and years until it passed a little. I would walk down the road crying, I would eat to cry, I would eat dinner to cry, every meal, crying.”

Since the “peace” accord was signed in 1992, like many others, he has fought for a trial for this crime to no avail, even after the Salvadoran Supreme Court ruled in July 2016 that a 1993 blanket amnesty law was unconstitutional, and ordered Congress to draft a new regulation guaranteeing “truth, reparations and justice” for victims.

In Guatemala’s case, an amnesty law blocking prosecution of war crimes among combatants was imposed following the 1996 settlement between the government and the guerrillas. Sixty-five military and paramilitary soldiers have been sentenced for crimes against civilians and about a dozen are awaiting trial.

The new bill “sends us back to the darkest era of state terrorism,” Ana Lucrecia Molina told reporters. Guatemalan military officials were convicted…

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