On November 18, 1978, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights approved its report on the status of human rights in El Salvador,
based on the on-site observation conducted from January 9-18, 1978. The
report was submitted to the ninth regular session of the OAS General
Assembly in La Paz, Bolivia, October 1979.
One week before the inauguration of the 9th General Assembly, on
October 15, 1979, the government of President Gen. Carlos Humberto
Romero was deposed in a coup d’état led by army officers.
These officers called for a five-member joint civilian-military
government to be set up, comprising Col. Adolfo Arnaldo Majano and Col.
Jaime Abdul Gutiérrez, and the civilians Dr. Guillermo Ungo, the
social-democratic leader of the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR),
Mr. Ramón Mayorga Quiróz, then the rector of the Catholic University
of Central America, and Mr. Mario Andino, a businessman.
The General Assembly in La Paz heard the Commission’s report
and, since the delegates of the new government in El Salvador had
relayed its firm commitment to the political, social, and economic
reforms necessary to ensure full enjoyment of human rights in the
country, the meeting expressed its hope that the Revolutionary Junta
would ensure compliance with the “measures it has adopted or offered
to adopt” and with the recommendations set by the Commission in the
report in question. It also agreed to ask the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights to continue monitoring the human rights situation in the
country and to include its conclusions in this report.
In compliance with General Assembly Resolution 446, the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been closely observing the
unfolding of political events in El Salvador, particularly as regards
the observance and upholding of human rights.
Immediately after it was set up, the Revolutionary Junta issued,
on October 16, 1979, a proclamation stating its goals. These included:
the dissolution of the ORDEN paramilitary organization; the promulgation
of a general amnesty, under which political prisoners would be released
and exiles allowed to return; the guaranteed functioning of political
and labor agencies; a meaningful process of agrarian reform that would
enable a fair distribution of wealth and land; a series of financial
reforms, including the nationalization of the banking system; the
guaranteed functioning of private enterprise on behalf of the
country’s interests; controlling inflation; and a speedy solution to
the problem with the neighboring Republic of Honduras, over which the
two countries went to war in July 1969. The new Junta also promised to
pursue a foreign policy based on respectful and cordial relations with
all the nations of the world.
According to publicly available information, the Revolutionary
Junta was unable to achieve the basic objectives it had set as the
central pillars of its government program. As a result, in January 1980
the civilian members of the Junta resigned en bloc, together with practically all the cabinet and the leaders
of other important public agencies. The armed forces then invited the
Christian Democrat Party to join the government and share power. From
this party, Dr. Héctor Dada Hirezi, Dr. Antonio Morales Ehrlich, and
Dr. Ramón Avalos joined the new Junta, and other high-ranking public
officials were selected from among the party’s members. In joining the
government, the Christian Democrats set down the following two
conditions: 1) implementation of an anti-oligarchy, structural reform
through agrarian reform, nationalization of the banks and of foreign
trade, and guaranteed rights for rural and urban workers; 2) the
introduction of democratic processes in El Salvador, full respect for
human rights, the formation of a pluralist government, and the
commencement of an urgent dialogue with the people’s organizations,
which would enable the latter, subject to the termination of the armed
struggle, to participate in the tasks being planned.
In early March 1980, the civilian member of the Junta, Héctor
Dada Herezi, submitted his resignation and withdrew from the Christian
Democratic Party, arguing that the new government, too, was incapable of
carrying out the reforms and the commitments it had made. His place was
taken in the Governing Junta by José Napoleón Duarte, the major leader
of the Christian Democratic Party whose followers contend had been the
real winner of the presidential elections held in 1972.
CHANGES IN THE LEGAL NORMS RELATING TO HUMAN RIGHTS
With the ouster of the government of General Carlos Humberto
Romero, the new government enacted legal provisions of a different kind
and introduced amendments to those already in force which have a bearing
on the field of human rights. These provisions include the following:
Decree Nº 1 of October 15, 1979
The first decree of the Revolutionary Junta, invoking “the
right of insurrection” recognized in Article 7 of the Salvadorian
Constitution, declared the legitimacy of the new Government and assumed
executive and legislative powers. Upon assuming legislative powers, the
Junta declared that in the future it would govern by means of decrees
that would have the force of law.
Decree Nº 2 of October 16, 1979
The second decree of the Revolutionary Junta, by virtue of the
powers set forth in Decree Nº 1, invoked Article 175 of the
Constitution for purposes of maintaining public order, thus allowing it
to suspend some of the guarantees envisaged in Article 154 (right of
movement), 158 (freedom of speech and of the press), 159 (inviolability
of the mails), and 160 (freedom to meet and of association).
On October 23, the members of the new Salvadorian Government
assumed office. Their first decision was to lift the state of siege
decreed by the armed forces six days earlier.
On March 5, 1980, these guarantees were again suspended and a
second state of siege was declared for a period of 30 days.
Subsequently, the state of siege was extended for 30-days periods
in April, May, June, July, August, and most recently, on September 5.
Decree Nº 114 of February 11, 1980
This Decree confirmed the validity of the 1962 Constitution and
expanded Decree Nº 1 by establishing the legal framework under which
the reforms envisaged by the Junta, particularly agrarian reform, would
be carried out.
The general amnesty of October 19, 1979
On October 19, the Revolutionary Junta urged all the leaders of
political and labor organizations who were abroad to return and take an
active part in the political life of the nation. A general amnesty
covering all exiles and political prisoners was declared.
Decree of dissolution of ORDEN
Under Decree Nº 12 of November 1979, the Governing Revolutionary
Junta dissolved the semi-official, paramilitary organization called
ORDEN. The Decree also provided, among other things, that any civilian
official or military officer who attempted to aid ORDEN would be
committing an abuse of authority and would be sanctioned under law.
Although the paramilitary organization ORDEN was officially
dissolved, in practice some of its members have joined armed bands that
have been emerging in the atmosphere of generalized violence reigning in
El Salvador and in the midst of which the Government has failed to take
effective action to repress such bands.
Decree Nº 43 of August 21, 1980
On August 21, 1980, the Junta promulgated Decree Nº 43 declaring
a state of emergency in El Salvador and placing all public service
employees under the control of the armed forces.
The operative part of the Decree declares a state of emergency in
El Salvador, under which the public servants in the following government
institutions and autonomous agencies were placed under military control:
the National Water Supply and Sewer System Administration, the Rio Lempa
Hydroelectric Plant Executive Commission, and the Autonomous Executive
Port Commission. Control of these agencies was assigned to the Ministry
of Defense and Public Safety which was authorized to take any necessary
action to maintain these services. All staff members of the public
services mentioned in this decree were merged into the armed forces.
When this decree enters into force, the staff members affected will work
in places assigned by the Ministry of Defense and Public Safety.
Instructions will be issued for implementation of the decree.
RIGHT TO LIFE
a) Investigation of deaths and disappearances that allegedly
occurred during the administration of General Romero
In recommendation Nº 5 of its earlier report on the status of
human rights in El Salvador, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights urged the Salvadorian Government to investigate reports received
of people killed, missing, tortured or arrested, and to prosecute and
punish the authorities responsible.
Colonel Abdul Gutiérrez, a member of the Governing Junta, said
on October 23, 1979, that an investigation had concluded that there were
no political prisoners in secret jails in the country. Through Decree Nº
9 of November 6, 1979, the Junta established a Special Committee to
Investigate Missing Political Prisoners, composed of three members with
a well-known democratic record: Roberto Lara Velado, Luis Alonso Posada
and Roberto Suárez Suay, the latter the Attorney General of El
On November 27, the Special Committee submitted a preliminary
report to the Junta, recommending that:
Former presidents Armando Arturo Molina and Carlos Humberto
Romero be prosecuted for their responsibility as commanders-in-chief of
the Armed Forces.
The directors of the National Guard, Bursar’s Office of the
police, and the national police under the regimes of Colonel Molina and
General Romero also be prosecuted.
Action be taken to compensate the families of missing political
prisoners whose deaths can be confirmed or presumed.
Accordingly, on December 3, Rubén Zamora, Ministry of the
Presidency, announced that the Attorney General’s Office had been
instructed to investigate and obtain sufficient evidence to bring the
heads of the security forces of the two prior administrations of
justice, as recommended, and to investigate the responsibility of former
presidents Molina and Romero. The families of missing persons and police
killed in confrontations with the guerrillas would be compensated.
On December 9, the Special Committee reported the discovery of 26
bodies of people presumably prisoners of the two past regimes, even
though expert opinion based on the state of the bodies pointed to the
conclusion that the 14 most recent deaths had occurred three or four
months earlier and the other 12, four years ago.
As of now, only two of the corpses have been identified, one a
woman whom the Committee assumed was María Teresa Hernández Saballos,
a 30-year-old lawyer arrested on September 15, 1979, in Delgado by the
National Guard, and Jesús Nicolás Palacios, a chauffeur identified by
On January 3, 1980, the Special Committee submitted its final
report, stating that it was unable to find any of the people listed as
missing in any of the jails in El Salvador, despite evidence that many
of them were captured by members of the security forces and that others
were being held in their barracks. These people are not known to have
been released, which means that many of those missing are presumably
dead. The report added that during the Committee’s investigation, a
total of 92 bodies were found, only 25 of which could be identified.
The proceedings ordered to determine the responsibility of former
presidents Romero and Molina and the heads of the security forces during
their governments were never set in motion.
In January 1980, when almost all the members of the cabinet
submitted their resignations to the Governing Junta, the Special
Committee announced that it had decided to discontinue its work.
Deaths in confrontations with security forces
The difficulties experienced by the civilian-military regime in
instituting progressive reforms and the unity achieved by the left-wing
forces on April 18, 1980, intensified the armed confrontations between
the security forces and the member organizations of the united left
The Democratic Revolutionary Front was the outcome of a coalition
of the Revolutionary Coordinator of the Masses (CRM), the National
Revolutionary Movement (MNR), the Social Christian Movement (MSC), and
former members of the Christian Democratic Party (PDC). Among the
members of the coalition are: Roberto Lara Velado (a founder of the PDC
and its first secretary general) and Héctor Dada Herezi (a member of
the second Junta). Other member organizations are: the Independent
Movement of Professionals and Technicians of El Salvador (MIPTES),
composed of 400 professionals who resigned from the Government in
disagreement with the Junta; the Association of Salvadorian Bus Owners
(AEST); the Trade Union Unity Committee (CUS); and the two major
universities, José Simeón Cañas Central American University and the
University of El Salvador.
The increasingly frequent armed confrontations occurring all over
the country have taken many lives of militants of opposition groups,
members of the army and innocent civilians caught in the cross-fire
between the two bands. To cite just one example, between March 16-25,
1979, according to one news agency, 140 fatalities were reported in
confrontations between the forces mentioned.
The deaths on the Sumpul River
On June 24, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was
informed that an incident had occurred on May 14-15 in the border area
of La Arada, where the Sumpul River forms the border separating El
Salvador and Honduras. Because of the serious nature of the incident, it
is being carefully investigated by the Commission.
According to information received, approximately 600 peasants
from El Salvador (other information places the figure between 300 and
1,500) may have lost their lives as they were trying to cross the border
and enter Honduras, as a result of coordinated actions attributable to
troops of the Salvadorian Government.
The Salvadorian Government has denied any responsibility in the
incident attributed to it. In a cablegram sent to the Commission, the
Government indicated that it had invited national and foreign newsmen to
fly over the region and nothing had been found. The Commission also
reported that the head of the OAS military observer mission—who was
immediately consulted—said that he had not witnessed the incidents and
was not in a position to verify the charges.
In view of the contradictory versions, the Commission is
continuing its investigation, has opened case file 7376 for this
purpose, and has designated one of its members as a special rapporteur.
Homicides charged to the authorities
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has received many
charges of assassinations attributed to the security forces and
paramilitary organizations operating, according to the charges, with the
concurrence of national government authorities such as the White Warrior
Union, Balance and the now-dissolved ORDEN.
Legal Aid, an office under the Archbishop of El Salvador which
defends human rights causes, informed the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights on March 6, 1980, that during February security agencies
were responsible for the following assassinations:
In Aguilares and Suchitoto, 70 peasants
In Chalatenango, 50 peasants.
In Morazán and La Unión, 41 peasants
the same time, Legal Aid also charged that members of the national
police had captured Lic. Roberto Castellanos, a Salvadorian, and his
wife, Anette Mathiessen, of Danish nationality, on February 24, as
witnessed by residents of the Colonia Nicaragua in San Salvador where
the couple lived. Castellanos, a sociologist who taught at the
University of Costa Rica and the UNA, was in El Salvador temporarily to
do post-graduate research.
On March 7, the bodies of Professor Castellanos and his wife
Anette were recovered from a shallow grave in a field.
The Salvadorian authorities have denied any responsibility in the
The Commission, which had informed the Salvadorian Government of
the charge concerning the arrest, asked the authorities for information.
The Salvadorian Government still has not replied to the request for
Generalized violence in recent months
The spiral of violence has reached truly alarming levels in El
Salvador in 1980. The armed confrontations mentioned earlier by the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, terrorist assaults by armed
groups of the extreme left and the extreme right, the discovery of
bullet-ridden, mutilated bodies, and kidnappings of prominent figures
are increasing dramatically.
Information received by the Inter-American Commission indicates
that during the first nine months of 1980, some 6,000 people were
probably killed as a result of the increasing violence in the country.
The El Salvador Commission on Human Rights said, “Life is the
exception and death the rule in El Salvador,” in its discussion of the
stepped-up violence there.
Those who argue and struggle for justice and respect for human
rights are murdered on the spot, as was the case of the abominable
assassination of the Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Arnulfo Romero
(which will be discussed in another part of this report) or killed in
private homes, as was the case of Mario Zamora Rivas, who was murdered
in the early hours of February 23, 1980.
The Commission regards such events with great concern and has so
informed the Salvadorian Government in several communications which have
still not been answered satisfactorily. Even worse, the Commission has
no knowledge that Government authorities, including the Attorney General
and judicial branch, are conducting investigations with the promptness
called for by such assassinations.
RIGHT TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
Religious freedom is guaranteed as part of the basic legal tenets
of El Salvador.
Despite this, reprehensible acts have been committed that in one
way or another affect religious freedom, in that they involve the
killing of priests who in their sermons have called for the Salvadorian
people to live in peace and harmony with one another and the end of
repression against several sectors of society.
Although many of the instances mentioned cannot be directly
charged to Government authorities, they are still the product of the
violence prevailing in the country and the ineffectiveness or lack of
determination on the part of the Government to control those responsible
for these assaults.
In the Commission’s last report on the situation of human
rights in El Salvador, it was recommended that the Government encourage
and protect the farm workers and those who cooperate or wish to
cooperate with them, such as the churches, and particularly the Catholic
Church, in their efforts to organize themselves to exercise their rights
and to affirm their dignity. Such is the tenor of the recommendation
that the Government take the necessary measures “to prevent
continuation of the persecution of the members of the Catholic Church
who act in legitimate exercise of their pastoral mission.”
The Archbishop of San Salvador, Mons. Oscar Arnulfo Romero, had
emerged as the major defender of the poor, the peasants, and the human
rights in general.
In February 1980, Mons. Romero denounced the bombing of the Roman
Catholic radio station YSAX and the 72 dynamite explosions in the
sacristy of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart where he regularly
In his homily of March 23, 1980, he appealed to the Army,
National Guard and police, reminding them that they themselves were part
of the people and that the murder of peasants was contrary to human and
divine law. He added that the Church was the defender of the rights of
God and of human dignity and therefore could not remain silent in the
face of such atrocities.
On March 24, 1980, the Archbishop of San Salvador was
assassinated as he said mass in a small chapel in northwest San
Salvador. This act, which aroused national and international
indignation, is typical of the conditions of violence prevailing in that
Central American nation. Several days after, when Mons. Romero was being
buried, thousands of people were forced to take refuge in the cathedral
when shooting broke out, causing panic and despair. Many people died,
some of them suffocated in the crowd. According to some charges, the
first shots were fired from government buildings. Other information
indicates that the shooting began from amidst the demonstrators
themselves who were participating in the funeral.
On March 27, 1980, the 49th regular session of the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued a statement on the
death of Mons. Romero, as follows:
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, stunned when it
learned of the murder of the Archbishop of San Salvador, Mons. Oscar
Arnulfo Romero, expresses its most forceful condemnation of that crime,
perpetrated against one of the most distinguished figures in his defense
of human dignity and social justice, of which the Commission has had
The Commission hopes that this event will be duly investigated
and those responsible severely punished.
The Commission has been informed that the Governing Revolutionary
Junta has ordered an investigation of this crime and has requested the
assistance of INTERPOL for this purpose. Nevertheless, as of the date of
the approval of this report, the results of the investigation are still
unknown. The Commission has learned that Judge Atilio Ramírez, who is
responsible for the investigation into the assassination of Mons.
Romero, has accused Colonel José Medrano and Major Roberto
D’Abuisson, former officers of the National Guard and former members
of ORDEN, of hiring the assassins. Colonel Medrano and Major
D’Abuisson both remain at liberty, whereas an assassination attempt
against Judge Ramírez was mde on March 26.
Another event connected with assaults on the Catholic Church
occurred on the night of April 28, 1980, when members of the Army burst
into the Catholic Church in San Martín and savagely beat up the
sacristan, his wife, the cook and a young man who was in the sacristy.
They were blindfolded and ordered to say where the parish priest, José
Rutilio Sánchez, the target of ferocious, constant persecution, could
At 7:00 a.m. on July 3, 1980, 120 national security agents riding
in three small tanks and military vehicles with gunnery pieces
forcefully entered the Legal Aid office of the Archbishopric, where
there is also a primary and secondary Jesuit school.
The agents made a complete search of the office and confiscated
records compiled by Legal Aid dating back to 1975. The military
operation lasted virtually all day. According to charges received by the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the agents carried away a
large number of legal documents concerning consultations on labor, penal
and civil matters. They confiscated photographs of Mons. Romero and of
the directors and members of Legal Aid.
In its reply to the Commission, the Government said the case had
been transferred to the Inter-Departmental Commission on Social Rights,
which was responsible for investigating alleged violations of human
rights in El Salvador, and that the Government would inform the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the outcome of its
The incidents mentioned are just a few examples of the conditions
under which some of the members or institutions of the Catholic Church
RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF OPINION AND EXPRESSION
The observance of these rights, which are recognized in articles
5 and 18 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and
in Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, is limited by
the state of siege decreed by the Government, as mentioned earlier by
the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The state of siege clearly gives the Government control over the
mass media through censorship, restricted access to sources or other
means of control generally accepted under emergency conditions, which is
acknowledged by Article 27 of the American Convention on Human Rights.
But since the state of siege was declared, the Commission has
been receiving reports or incidents that could not be justified by the
decree suspending constitutional guarantees and which are a violation of
the right to freedom of opinion and expression and also imply evident
violations of other fundamental rights covered in the aforementioned
inter-American instruments, the observance and promotion of which was
undertaken by the Salvadorian Government.
As an example, some of these charges are described below:
On April 2, 1980, two Dutch reporters, Van Vanderpothen and Frank
Diamond, were wounded by the police who fired on the vehicle in which
the reporters were riding despite the fact that they had identified
themselves as members of the press and the car had visible press signs.
José Napoleón Duarte, a member of the Junta, and Col. Eugenio
Vides Casanova, director of the National Guard, visited the reporters.
On April 12, 1980, the two national guardsmen accused of wounding
the reporters were acquitted by a judge because there was insufficient
evidence against them.
On February 19, 1980, a powerful bomb totally destroyed one of
the major radio stations in the country, Church-owned YSAX, which had
broadcast the sermons of Mons. Oscar Arnulfo Romero.
On June 26, 1980, some 300 individuals, including the leaders of
the Revolutionary Committee for Mass Coordination, were trapped,
together with national and foreign newsmen, in the basement of a
building at the National University of El Salvador. Army and police
forces surrounded the university for three hours and then entered the
campus shooting. The result was 27 dead, 15 wounded, and 200 arrested.
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RIGHTS
Recommendation Nº 8 of the earlier report by the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights urged the Salvadorian Government to take the
necessary measures, taking advantage of all resources, to improve the
social economic conditions prevailing in the country.
Government authorities have made many statements of their
intention to make significant changes in the social-economic structure
of the country. Ernesto Arrieta Peralta, Ambassador Permanent
Representative of El Salvador to the OAS, speaking on behalf of the
Governing Revolutionary Junta, said on July 10, 1980, that the Junta was
attempting to put an end to “the infamous accumulation of wealth,
culture and power” which had led to the rending of the social fabric
in El Salvador, and added that “the assets produced in El Salvador
have been enjoyed and monopolized almost in their entirety by a
privileged group, whereas this wealth has been vaunted before the middle
and lower classes—they have seen it, it was generated by their toil,
but they have not enjoyed it, as a result they have become embittered,
frustrated and have reacted with a vengeance.”
Basically, three important steps have been decreed by the
Governing Revolutionary Junta as the means of implementing its program
to change the social-economic structure in the country—a) agrarian
reform; b) nationalization of private banking institutions; and c)
nationalization of foreign trade.
Because of its special importance, the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights will deal with agrarian reform.
El Salvador is known to be the most densely populated country in
the American Hemisphere. This, plus the predominantly agrarian focus of
Salvadorian society, means that the structure governing settlement and
use of the land is extremely important.
The traditional land tenure system made up of ejidos and communal
lands was replaced in 1879 by a new system which eventually led to a
large share of arable land becoming the private property of a privileged
minority. The latter exploit the land, mainly planted in coffee, for
their personal benefit, whereas the immense majority of the peasants,
whose numbers have continued to grow because of a radical population
explosion, has been bypassed.
Agrarian reform has become the proof of legitimacy of the
Revolutionary Government which proclaimed redistribution of wealth in
this polarized society as its goal, thus attempting to take the
initiative from left-wing organizations intent upon overthrowing the
Junta which they consider has failed to implement the reforms involved
to justify replacement of the regime of General Romero.
Agrarian reform, which the Armed Forces’ proclamation of
October 16, 1979, declared was geared to a fair distribution of wealth
and improvement in the gross national product, was planned for
development in several phases by means of successive decrees that would
govern the process step-by-step.
The first step taken was Decree Nº 43 of December 8, 1979, by
means of which the transfer and division of rural property, which was
made subject to authorization by the Instituto Salvadoreño de
Transformación Agraria, was restricted to individuals who owned between
50 and 100 hectares of land. Subsequently the basic agrarian reform law,
found in Decree Nº 153 of March 6, 1980, limited the size of private
rural holdings to a maximum of 100 to 150 hectares, depending on the
quality and wealth of the land. This assumed expropriation, and
compensation either in cash or in government bonds, of 224,083 hectares
of land, with buildings, machinery and equipment that would be
distributed among the peasant cooperatives into which some 75,000
families would be organized.
The next phase in the agrarian reform process, which was to
eliminate the sharecropping and land leasing system, was set forth in
Decree Nº 207 of April 18, 1980, called “the land for El Salvador.”
Its intended targets were some 150,000 peasant families who worked the
land under those conditions. The landholders affected would also be
compensated in the manner already mentioned.
The implementation of the agrarian reform project, the technical
analysis of which is not per se a matter for this Commission, has
engendered difficulties and problems. The Governing Revolutionary Junta,
on the same day it issued the agrarian reform decree, reestablished the
state of siege for the alleged purpose of preventing those forces that
would challenge agrarian reform from achieving their purposes.
The result of this measure, according to charges received by the
Commission, was occupation by the armed forces of some of the land
affected by the reform. This led to acts of violence in which not a few
peasants were affected. Archbishop Romero himself, a few days before he
was felled by the bullets of an assassin, said in an interview he gave
to a representative of the press that “agrarian reform is good per se,
but if it goes hand in hand with repression which distorts the good will
implied by the reform, the decree law will not have the people’s
The Commission, as stated, considers that the technical analysis
of the agrarian reform law is not a matter for its jurisdiction. It does
recognize the good intentions of the Government, but at the same time
considers, as stated in the Commission’s previous report, that any
process of change in the social-economic structure of El Salvador must
involve participation by all sectors of Salvadorian society. In the case
of agrarian reform, participation by the sector most affected, i.e.,
the peasants, seems unavoidable.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In the light of the background and considerations stated, the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights wishes to express, as a
general conclusion, its deep concern over the increasing violence in El
Salvador, which from October 15, 1979, up to the date of approval of the
present report, has taken a too severe cost in human life and meant a
general deterioration in the situation of the human rights set forth in
the American Convention on Human Rights.
These conditions clearly are not consistent with the purposes
announced by the Governing revolutionary Junta, which justified its
assumption of power by the need for change in the social-economic
structure of the country and the deteriorating situation of human
rights, as verified in the earlier report of the Commission. But it is
also true that the Government, in the face of the violence prevalent in
El Salvador today, has been unable to control and overcome a situation
which, if continued, will seriously compromise national unity and even
the stability of the Central American region.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is particularly
concerned over the relative passivity of the government as regards
certain armed groups which still maintain ties with former members of
security agencies and of the dissolved organization ORDEN and which are
apparently responsible for hundreds of killings, and over the absence of
adequate, effective investigation of such crimes by the authorities.
Against this background, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights makes the following recommendations to the Salvadorian
1) The adoption of organized action to overcome current violence,
which might include, among other measures, the following:
effective, real steps to disarm private individuals and prevent
the entry of weapons from abroad;
a massive campaign against violence in the schools and the mass
the reopening of the dialogue among all the sectors of
Salvadorian society without exception, including, therefore, the
dissident forces of the left and of the right, with a view to
establishing the conditions that would make it possible in the short
term to hold elections which would reveal the true will of the people
and legitimatize the Government that wins such an election. For this
purpose, a new election law and a reorganized Central Elections Council
An exhaustive, rapid investigation of the cases of murder in
which past or present members of security agencies have been charged as
the instigators or authors, with full sanctions of the law against those
shown to be the responsible parties.
The Commission considers it would be appropriate, upon the
invitation or concurrence of the Government and with the cooperation of
all Salvadorian sectors, for the Commission to make a new on-site
observations for purposes of verifying compliance with the
recommendations made in its earlier report and those contained in the