Washington, D.C.—The closure of Tutela Legal, the legal aid office of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, marks the end of an era. Tutela was founded in 1982, during the early years of El Salvador’s civil war, when some of the most brutal massacres and human rights crimes were taking place. The office played a critical role in documenting cases, preserving testimonies, and bringing abuses to light.
WOLA staff worked closely with Tutela in those difficult years, and we have deep respect for the institution and its work. We are surprised by the abrupt decision by the Archdiocese of San Salvador to close the institution; the doors were shut and the staff dismissed without warning on September 30.
Tutela maintained an extensive archive of the testimonies it received and the evidence it gathered about human rights abuses both during and after the civil war. These archives include information critical to both human rights researchers and criminal investigators examining some of the still-unresolved human rights cases of the recent past. WOLA hopes and expects that the Archdiocese will carefully protect these archives and make them available to researchers and investigators, in keeping with the Church’s long tradition of defending human rights and human dignity and the proud history of Tutela Legal.