EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 29/11/94
UA 243/94 Apparent Political killing / Fear for Safety 22 June 1994
EL SALVADOR Luis Antonio MÉNDEZ, member of the Frente Farabundo Martí para
la Liberación Nacional (FMLN), Farabundo Martí National
Monsignor Arturo RIVERA Y DAMAS, Archbishop of San Salvador
Monsignor Gregorio ROSA CHÁVEZ, Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador
The killing of yet another FMLN member and death threats against the Archbishop
and auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador have heightened Amnesty International's
fears for the safety of opposition party members and members of the Catholic
church who have been outspoken in their condemnation of human rights violations
in El Salvador.
On 12 June 1994 Luis Antonio Méndez, coordinator of the FMLN in the municipality
of Zacacoyo, department of La Libertad, was killed. He was in the area of
Joya Colonia Escalante when he was shot at short range in the head and back
by unidentified masked gunmen. Allegedly the gunmen were robbing a nearby
shop. However, Amnesty International fears that the killing may be a
continuation of an intimidation campaign by elements linked to the military
and civilian authorities, aimed at activists and supporters of the FMLN, now
a legal political party.
On 10 June, both Monsignor Arturo Rivera y Damas, Archbishop of San Salvador
and the Auxiliary Bishop Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chávez, received telephone
death threats by a caller who identified himself as a member of the Comando
Domingo Monterrosa (named after a military official killed in the 1980s).
According to reports, Monsignor Arturo Rivera y Damas made a reference to the
death threats in his homily of 12 June, indicating that "these acts are proof
that the structures of the death squads have not been touched and it would
seem that they enjoy greater impunity every day". Members of the Catholic church
have recently been subjected to death threats by the Comando Domingo Monterrosa
(See UA 220/94, AMR 29/08/94, 8 June 1994).
The former armed opposition group FMLN became a political party under the terms
of the 1992 Peace Accords which ended 12 years of bitter armed conflict. The
Accords included numerous human rights commitments and reforms; many of the
most important, including an enquiry into "death squads" and key judicial
reforms, have yet to be fully implemented.
The vast majority of recent political killings, attacks and death threats remain
uninvestigated. In March 1993 the Truth Commission, appointed as a result of
the 1992 peace accords, concluded that "death squads" linked to state structures
were an instrument of terror and called for urgent investigations into these
groups as they posed a threat to society. In early December 1993 the government
set up a commission known as the Grupo Conjunto (Joint Group) to investigate
"illegal armed groups". Its findings were to be published in May 1994 but
publication has been postponed until the end of July.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes and airmail letters
either in Spanish or in your own language:
- expressing concern at the killing of Luis Antonio Méndez and the death threats
to Monsignor Arturo Rivera y Damas, and Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chávez;