By Gabriela Ávila Gómez on August 18, 2016
After a three-year review process, judges in the Constitutional Chamber of El Salvador’s Supreme Court declared two articles in the 1993 Congress-approved Amnesty Law as unconstitutional.
The law prevented authorities from investigating crimes committed during the civil war, a conflict involving the Armed Forces of El Salvador (FAES) and guerrilla rebels the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation (FMLN) which has been in power since 2009.
However, according to Prensa Latina the Constitutional Chamber ruled the approval of $900 million in government bonds – a large percentage of which was intended to fund public security measures – unconstitutional, a decision which has received broad criticism, given its potentially negative impact on the population.
Various experts agree that neither the Salvadoran people nor political parties are in conditions to relive the memories of the civil war, highlighting that the ruling is an attempt by the Supreme Court to starve Salvador Sánchez Cerén’s ruling FMLN party of urgently needed funds.
The President, who participated in the civil war, supported the political route to resolving the armed conflict and was one of the signatories of the 1992 Peace Accords.
Sánchez Cerén won the country’s most recent presidential elections, and as such became the first former guerrilla to hold the presidency of the nation.
Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Sánchez Cerén noted that both he and his cabinet have “a clear commitment and support to the victims of the conflict and to building a just and democratic society where neither the conditions nor acts which led to these grave human rights violations will be repeated.”
However, figures from a report by the Truth Commission for El Salvador, established after the Peace Accords with the aim of investigating human rights violations, revealed that only 5% of the over 22,000 cases investigated were committed by the FMLN, while 85% were committed by the state, above all in rural areas.
Many mass media outlets are turning their attention away from the stats to focus on how justice claims will affect the FMLN.
In this sense, editor of the newspaper Resumen Latinoamericano, Carlos Aznárez, in an interview with teleSUR, noted that “official pardon was key for the right-wing soldiers who had carried out genocide, killing many civilians,” in theAmnesty Law.
Meanwhile, another statement issued by the Constitutional Chamber reported that all cases included in the Commission report, as well as others of equal severity and importance, will not be eligible for amnesty and will be tried.
These include the murder of Jesuit priests in 1989, for which at least ten soldiers were convicted, but later released under the Amnesty Law.
The cases also contain extrajudicial killings, massacres of campesinos committed by the FAES and the murder of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero in 1980 by a member of the country’s state-sponsored death squads.
Romero struggled for peace in El Salvador and maintained a dialogue with the guerillas.
The 12-year civil war in El Salvador left a wave of destruction: 75,000 dead, thousands disappeared and immeasurable material damage.
With the support of the UN, the FMLN and Salvadoran government at the time managed to establish a dialogue and finally on January 16, 1992, the Peace Accords were signed in Chapultepec, Mexico.