El Salvador: Conviction of one of those responsible for the murder of Jesuit priests must break the chain of impunity
In response to the National Court of Spain convicting the former Salvadoran colonel and former defence minister Inocente Montano for the murder of five Jesuit priests in 1989, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:
“This historic ruling is an important step in the search for justice that, for decades, has been denied to the victims of the armed conflict in El Salvador. But it also reminds us of the enormous debt that Salvadoran authorities owe in guaranteeing truth, justice and reparation. It's unacceptable that in El Salvador, almost 30 years after the signing of the Peace Accords, those responsible for crimes committed during the armed conflict are still allowed to escape justice and enjoy impunity.”
“The Salvadoran authorities have before them several cases of human rights violations committed during the armed conflict. The only case that has advanced substantially is the El Mozote massacre. In the coming days, the judge in the case will inspect installations of the Armed Forces in search of information about this military operation. President Bukele’s government has an opportunity to fulfill justice, hand over the files or reconstruct them. If it refuses to do so, it will join the list of governments that have turned their back on the victims.”
This historic ruling is an important step in the search for justice that, for decades, has been denied to the victims of the armed conflict in El Salvador
“We urge all state authorities, including the president, to take decisive and forceful action to guarantee, once and for all, the rights of the victims of the armed conflict.”
According to the United Nations Truth Commission, more than 75,000 people were tortured, extrajudicially executed or forcibly disappeared during the internal armed conflict in El Salvador between 1980 and 1992.
The Salvadoran Army was responsible for numerous crimes under international law and serious human rights violations within communities accused of supporting guerrilla groups. Armed opposition groups also committed crimes under international law and human rights abuses.
In the early morning of 16 November 1989, six Jesuit priests, their cook and her daughter were murdered by the military at the victims’ residence inside the José Simeón Cañas Central American University in San Salvador. The soldiers, members of the Atlacatl Battalion, entered the campus and the priests’ residence. They ordered the priests out of their dormitories and then they shot them. They also shot Julia Elba Ramos and Celina, her 15-year-old daughter.
We urge all state authorities, including the president, to take decisive and forceful action to guarantee, once and for all, the rights of the victims of the armed conflict
Nine members of the battalion were tried between 26 and 28 September 1991. Seven were acquitted. However, on 24 March 1993, the few convicted were released, having benefited from the amnesty law that had been passed two days earlier. Although they had been identified in the Truth Commission Report, those suspected of planning and ordering the killings were not prosecuted.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Duncan Tucker: email@example.com