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UA 427/93 - El Salvador: death threats: Dr Jose Maria Mendez and his wife, Esther de Mendez, and his son, Dr Jose Maria Mendez, hijo; and Dr Francisco Lima

, Index number: AMR 29/021/1993

Dr Jose Maria Mendez, a prominent lawyer, has received two letters from individuals claiming to be members of the notorious "death squad", Brigada Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez. In the second letter of 25 November he was told to pressure his friend, Dr Francisco Lima, also a lawyer, to withdraw his candidature in the presidential elections. He is representing an opposition coalition composed of the Democratic Convergence (CD) and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN). The second letter also contained threats against his wife and son. In it he was told to persuade his son, himself a prominent lawyer, to withdraw from a land dispute case in which he is representing the FMLN.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 29/21/93
Distr: UA/SC
UA 427/93 Death threats 2 December 1993
EL SALVADOR Dr José María MÉNDEZ, lawyer
Esther de Méndez, wife of above
Dr José María MÉNDEZ, hijo, son of above, lawyer
Dr Francisco LIMA, lawyer, opposition candidate
Dr José María Méndez, a prominent lawyer and driving force behind the process
of judicial reform in El Salvador, has received death threats from a so-called
"death squad". His wife and son have also received threats, as has, indirectly,
Dr Francisco Lima.
José María Méndez received two letters from individuals identifying themselves
as members of the notorious "death squad", Brigada Maximiliano Hernández
Martínez. On 25 November the second letter told José María Méndez to put
pressure on his friend, Dr Francisco Lima, also a lawyer, who is standing as
a candidate for the opposition in the presidential elections, to withdraw his
candidature by 15 December. Dr Francisco Lima is standing for the coalition
composed of the Convergencia Democrática (CD) Democratic Convergence and the
Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional (FMLN) Farabundo Martí
National Liberation Front, the former armed opposition group which became a
political party after signing a peace accord with the government in January
1992. Dr Francisco Lima has declared that he will not resign his election
candidature.
The second letter also contained threats against his wife, Esther de Méndez,
and his son. It told him to persuade his son, himself a prominent lawyer,
to withdraw from a case in which he is representing the FMLN in a land dispute.
The letter called his family "communists" and warned: "Don't worry, old man,
nothing will happen to you, the executions will start with Esther and continue
downwards".
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Since the end of the war in January 1992, the Brigada Maximiliano Hernández
Martínez and other so-called "death squads" have continued to issue numerous
death threats against people it identifies as sympathetic to the FMLN. Several
unclarified killings of FMLN and other left wing activists this year have been
attributed to shadowy "death squads", believed to be associated with hardline
sectors of the military, the ruling party and the oligarchy.
These threats are the latest in a series of attacks and numerous death threats
against members of the opposition, including seven killings in recent months
in the context of the official opening of the electoral campaign. Most of
these cases remain unresolved as thorough investigations have not been carried
out. The pattern and circumstances of the killings suggest the involvement
of government forces operating clandestinely, recalling the government "death
2
squads" which have been so notorious in the past. During the war, these
clandestine groups or individuals, inextricably linked to state structures,
systematically carried out killings and "disappearances" of suspected FMLN
members.
Amnesty International has also been calling for an urgent investigation into
the continuing activities of the "death squads" since the end of the war. The
need for such an inquiry was highlighted by the Truth Commission, a body
appointed by the United Nations to investigate grave human rights violations
during the war (1980-92).
The government has announced that such a commission of inquiry will be set
up, with the assistance of ONUSAL and the governmental Procurador Nacional
para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (National Counsel for the Defence of
Human Rights). However, its creation has reportedly been delayed due to
disagreement over its composition.
RECOMMENDED ACTION Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes and airmail letters
in Spanish, English or your own language:
- expressing concern at the death threats received by José María Méndez and
his family, and urging that steps be taken to ensure their safety;
- asking that immediate steps be taken to identify those responsible and bring
them to justice;
- urging the authorities to proceed immediately with the commission of inquiry
into the "death squads", which should clarify all "death squad"-style killings
since the end of the war, bring to justice those responsible and dismantle
"death squad" structures;
- stating that the eradication of "death squads" is necessary to ensure the
security of the Peace Accords and forthcoming elections and to guarantee the
safeguarding human rights for the future.
APPEALS TO:
President
Lic. Alfredo Cristiani
Presidente de la República de El Salvador
San Salvador, El Salvador
Telegrams: President Cristiani, San Salvador, El Salvador
Faxes: + 503 81 0018 / 71 0950
Telexes: 20245 RS SAL or 20522 PRES SAL
Salutation: Su Excelencia/Your Excellency
Dr René Hernández Valiente
Ministro de Justicia
Ministerio de Justicia
Av. Masferrer Nº 612-b
Colonia Lomas Verde
San Salvador, El Salvador
Telegrams: Ministro de Justicia, San Salvador, El Salvador
Faxes: + 503 23 2611
Salutation: Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
Comisión Nacional para la
Consolidación de la Paz (COPAZ)
Asamblea Legislativa
6ª Planta
Edificio Centro de Gobierno
3
San Salvador, El Salvador
Fax: (503) 71-3588
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Convergencia Democrática
Calle Guadalupe 1313
San Salvador, El Salvador
Fax: +503 71 0517
Centro de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho (CESPAD)
Apartado Postal 2806
San Salvador, El Salvador
Diario Latino
6ª Avda. Norte 325
San Salvador, El Salvador
Faxes: + 503 71 0971
and to diplomatic representatives of EL SALVADOR accredited to your country
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 13 January 1994.

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