WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

Promoting Accountability in El Salvador: The Case of El Mozote

2:00PM - 3:00PM Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Washington, DC

(AP Photo/Edgar Romero)

WOLA invites you to attend a Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission briefing.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018
2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
340 Cannon House Office Building

Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission for a briefing on efforts to ensure accountability for grave human rights abuses committed during El Salvador’s civil war, examined through the lens of the El Mozote massacre.

Over a four-day period in December 1981, Salvadoran army troops massacred over 1,000 civilians, primarily women and children, in and near the town of El Mozote in the remote eastern region of the country. The massacre was the largest of the twelve-year war.

Although a post-conflict UN-sponsored Truth Commission recommended pursuing justice in key cases of human rights violations, a 1993 amnesty law suspended investigations and prosecutions underway and precluded new ones. But the Salvadoran Constitutional Court overturned the amnesty in 2016, opening the door to new legal efforts on victims’ behalf. The first case that has begun to make its way through the judicial system is that of El Mozote, in which eighteen retired military officers are on trial.

The United States provided assistance and training to the Salvadoran military during the war, and has supported initiatives to strengthen the judicial system, in particular the office of the Attorney General, in the years since. The El Mozote case is a test for principles of judicial independence and equality before the law in El Salvador, and also points to the potential importance of facilitating access to U.S. archival records.

Panelists will review the history of the massacre and its impact, discuss the challenges involved in the legal case, and provide recommendations for ways the U.S. government can contribute to justice for the victims and their families.

Opening Remarks:
Rep. James P. McGovern 

Geoff Thale

Vice President for Programs
Washington Office on Latin America

Leonor Arteaga

Senior Program Officer
The Due Process of Law Foundation

Dorila Marquez
El Mozote Association for the Defense of Human Rights

David Morales
Lead Civil Attorney in El Mozote Case

Kate Doyle
Senior Analyst
National Security Archive

This briefing is open to Members of Congress, congressional staff, the interested public, and the media. For any questions, please contact:
Matthew Singer (for Mr. Hultgren) at 202-226-3989 or [email protected]
Kimberly Stanton (for Mr. McGovern) at 202-225-3599 or [email protected]



James P. McGovern, M.C.

Co-Chair, TLHRC


Randy Hultgren, M.C.

Co-Chair, TLHRC