The Committee considered the second periodic report of El Salvador
(CCPR/C/51/Add.8) at its 1310th to 1313th meetings, held on 4 and
5 April 1994 (see CCPR/C/SR.1310-1313), and adopted at its 1318th
meeting (fiftieth session), held on 8 April 1994 the following comments:
The Committee welcomes the opportunity to continue
its dialogue with the State party following a delay in reporting
of over 10 years. The second report contained information about
constitutional and legal measures giving effect to the Covenant
that was supplemented by the core document. The Committee regrets
that the second periodic report neither accurately nor candidly
represents the actual human rights situation in El Salvador in the
period covered by the report, during which armed conflict and massive
violations of human rights have been followed by a peace process
supervised by the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador
(ONUSAL). In particular, it provides little relevant information
on such key areas as the protection of the right to life under article
6 of the Covenant, the prohibition of torture under article 7, the
right to liberty and security of person under article 9 and the
guarantee to due process under the law in accordance with article
14. The Committee regrets, in particular, the complete lack of information
regarding either the report of the Truth Commission and the implementation
of its recommendations or the Amnesty Law and its impact on the
State party's obligations under the Covenant.
The Committee expresses its appreciation to the delegation
for the useful information it provided in response to the list of
issues, as well as to questions and comments of Committee members.
However, the Committee regrets that many questions put to the delegation
during the discussion remained unanswered.
2. Factors and difficulties affecting the application of the
The Committee notes that El Salvador has only recently emerged from
a long and devastating civil war during which gross and systematic
human rights violations occurred and that it is still in the process
of recovery and transition to peace.
3. Positive aspects
The Committee notes with satisfaction that the human
rights situation has improved in El Salvador and that some progress
has been made towards the consolidation of peace and the establishment
of the rule of law. In that connection, the Committee notes the
signing of the peace accords in 1992 and the creation under that
accord of the Truth Commission and the Ad Hoc Commission to investigate
past human rights abuses, to recommend action against the perpetrators
and to avoid a recurrence of such events. The Committee particularly
welcomes the establishment of the Office of the Procurator for the
Protection of Human Rights and the Office for Information on Detained
Persons as well as the primacy accorded in the Constitution to international
human rights instruments over domestic legislation. The Committee
also welcomes the legal reform undertaken in some areas, notably
with respect to the family code and the establishment of family
courts, and the limitation of the jurisdiction of military tribunals.
4. Principal subjects of concern
The Committee is concerned that, despite the signing
of the peace accord over two years ago, the rule of law has not
yet been effectively re-established. The Committee expresses concern
that human rights violations continue in El Salvador, particularly
serious and systematic violations of the right to life carried out
by paramilitary groups. In this regard, the Committee notes with
alarm that politically motivated summary and arbitrary executions,
death threats and cases of torture have continued to occur since
the signing of the peace accord. The Committee also notes that most
recommendations of the Truth Commission still have not been implemented.
A significant gap persists between constitutional and legal guarantees
and the actual application of those legal guarantees. The Committee
also notes with concern that the rights and freedoms in the Covenant
have not been fully included in the Constitution.
The Committee expresses grave concern over the adoption
of the Amnesty Law, which prevents relevant investigation and punishment
of perpetrators of past human rights violations and consequently
precludes relevant compensation. It also seriously undermines efforts
to re-establish respect for human rights in El Salvador and to prevent
a recurrence of the massive human rights violations experienced
in the past. Furthermore, failure to exclude violators from service
in the Government, particularly in the military, the National Police
and the judiciary, will seriously undermine the transition to peace
The Committee expresses concern over continuing human
rights abuses by the military and security forces. In this context,
the Committee notes with particular concern the lack of full and
effective control by civilian authorities over the military and
the security forces.
The Committee expresses concern over the fact that
high officials of the judiciary have been implicated by the Truth
Commission in human rights violations. In that connection, the Committee
notes with concern that until serious reform of the judiciary is
undertaken, efforts to strengthen the rule of law and to promote
respect for human rights will continue to be undermined. The Committee
also notes with concern the lack of support and protection given
by the civilian authorities to the judiciary in the performance
of its duties.
A number of additional concerns remain, including
the full and effective application of the Covenant in matters pertaining
to the full enjoyment by women of the rights guaranteed under the
Covenant and the difficulties encountered in ensuring the full participation
of all citizens in the electoral process.
5. Suggestions and recommendations
The Committee endorses the recommendations of the
Truth Commission and strongly recommends that the Government take
immediate steps to implement them fully.
The Committee emphasizes the obligation of the State
party under article 2, paragraph 3, of the Covenant to ensure that
victims of past human rights violations have an effective remedy.
In order to discharge that obligation, the Committee recommends
that the State party review the effect of the Amnesty Law and amend
or repeal it as necessary.
The Committee recommends that all necessary measures
be urgently taken to combat the continuing human rights violations
in El Salvador. All violations should be thoroughly investigated,
the offenders punished and the victims compensated. In this connection,
the Committee also recommends that the Office of the Procurator
for the Protection of Human Rights should be strengthened, both
with regard to resources and competence, in order to ensure that
the Procurator may effectively carry out his or her responsibilities.
The Committee recommends that all necessary measures
be taken to ensure that human rights are respected by the military.
The Committee urges continuing vigorous action to ensure that persons
closely associated with human rights abuses do not re-enter the
police, army or security forces.
The Committee recommends that major reform of the
judiciary be undertaken with a view to establishing an independent
and impartial judicial system free from political pressure and intimidation
that will safeguard human rights and enforce the rule of law without
The Committee urges that respect for human rights
be institutionalized at all levels of the Government and recognized
as an essential element of the process of national reconciliation
and reconstruction. To that end, the Committee recommends that all
articles of the Covenant be fully incorporated into the national
legal system; that comprehensive human rights training be provided
to judges, the police and the military; and that human rights education
be provided in schools at all levels. The active participation of
non-governmental organizations in the democratization process should
also be encouraged.