2.       Some Remarks on the Truth Commission


          As will be recalled, in the Peace Agreements concluded to end the armed conflict, the parties decided to establish a Truth Commission to "investigate serious acts of violence that occurred since 1980, whose impact on society urgently requires that the truth about them be made known to the public"; and undertook to "comply with the Commission's recommendations."  The instructions given to the Commission included making recommendations for the adoption of, pursuant to the Agreements, "such legal, political or administrative provisions as may be derived from findings of its investigations"[4].


          Following publication of the Truth Commission Report -- on March 15, 1993 -- some sectors that were indicated as responsible by the United Nations experts, objected to the findings, as did the executive branch of the government,[5] the armed forces and the Supreme Court.


          In fact, the Salvadoran armed forces announced on March 23, 1993, that it rejected the Truth Commission's Report, calling it "unfair, incomplete, illegal, unethical, partial and disrespectful," and asserting that "they were proud of having carried out their mission of defending their people and promoting, as demonstrated by their actions throughout this period (...) peace and preserving our democratic and republican system (...)"[6]



          The judiciary, the branch of the government most criticized by the Truth Commission Report for its ineffectiveness and tolerance of offenses committed with impunity during the conflict, and its present failure to act, reacted quickly.  In addition to the statements of individual officials, the Supreme Court officially rejected the Truth Commission's Report recommending that the Court's justices resign.  In  a "Statement on the Truth Commission's Report on El Salvador and its annexes," the justices declared that they:



          1.       Emphatically rejected the conclusions and recommendations made against the justice system in El Salvador in general and against the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of the Court in the report of the so-called "Truth Commission for El Salvador";


          2.       Explained that its rejection did not mean that the Salvadoran justice system could not be critically reviewed to make a constructive contribution to overcoming its main problems, shortcomings and deficiencies -- in legislative, organizational, operational and infrastructure areas (...)[7]


          The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has followed this development with interest and regards the Salvadoran officials' attitude toward the recommendations of Truth Commission Report, both the individual and the general investigations, as being of grave concern for prospects for reconciliation.


          Unquestionably, inasmuch as the work of the Truth Commission and its specific recommendations are directly related to the international commitments undertaken by El Salvador in the human rights area by virtue of its ratification of such instruments as the American Convention on Human Rights, the IACHR can only urge again that the Truth Commission's recommendations be implemented, and to call upon the Salvador authorities to promptly take the specific measures dealing fundamentally with the administration of justice, administrative punishment for the persons found responsible, and compensation for victims.


          Gradual implementation of the Truth Commission's recommendations will help to achieve genuine consolidation and strengthening of institutions, especially in the judiciary, which are essential to put an end to crimes going unpunished in El Salvador.  The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hopes that these measures will be implemented, particularly since they affect the inter-American system for the protection of human rights.


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[4]  Mexican Agreements, April 27, 1991.

[5]  See II.4.  Promulgation of the Amnesty Law and the international commitments in El Salvador.  Position of the IACHR.

[6]  Selected quotes from the "Position of the Salvadoran armed forces on the Truth Commission Report," San Salvador, March 1993.

[7]  Selected quotes from the "Statement on the Report of the Truth Commission for El Salvador and its Annexes," San Salvador, March 1993.