WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

(AP Photo/Luis Romero)

10 Apr 2019 | Joint Statement

International Opposition Grows Against Proposed El Salvador Amnesty Law for War Crimes

Proposed Legislation Would Undermine Rule of Law; Represents a Serious Setback for Justice in El Salvador

Washington, DC—A group of 54 prominent academics, human rights activists, and students from around the world are demanding in an open letter that El Salvador President-elect Nayib Bukele and Attorney General Raúl Melara oppose a proposed amnesty law that would halt investigations into war crimes. This is an addition to the widespread opposition to the law previously expressed by civil society and religious leaders in El Salvador and internationally.

The letter, backed by human rights groups the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF), Cristosal, and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), emphasizes the importance of upholding rule of law in El Salvador. Initially declaring a “full, absolute and unconditional” amnesty, the bill contradicts international human rights law, including decisions by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, as well as prior rulings by El Salvador’s highest court. The proposed “national reconciliation” law—still under debate in an ad hoc commission—could halt all current investigations, limit future prosecutions, and prevent any sentencing in cases involving human rights crimes committed during El Salvador’s armed conflict, the letter states.