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Report on the Situation of Human Rights in El Salvador, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/II.85, Doc. 28 rev. (1994).




This Special Report was adopted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at its 84th session, and was transmitted to the Salvadoran Government on October 18, 1993, for comment. The Commission received the Government's comments on January 18, 1994, reviewed them at its 85th session, included them in its report to the extent that it considered appropriate, and decided to publish the report.

The Government's observations show that, particularly in the economic and social area, the Government has been conducting, under its five-year plan, a number of social programs to combat extreme poverty, especially in the housing, health, education and welfare areas.

In this context, the establishment of the National Secretariat for the Family, the Secretariat for National Reconstruction, and the Social Investment Fund, show the Government's political resolve to promote the economic, social and cultural rights of the most needy sectors.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights views with satisfaction the progress made by the Salvadoran Government and hopes that progress will continue to be made in economic and social development for the benefit of the Salvadoran people.

The Commission wishes to note also that it has not failed to notice the Salvadoran Government's efforts shown in the changes being made to improve the system for the administration of justice. The Commission trusts that the recommendations it has made in its various reports aimed at improving the administration of justice will help promote respect for the fundamental rights and guarantees set forth in the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights.

The Government's document also contends that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has gone beyond its mandate by taking upon itself to monitor the Peace Accords, a task that was expressly given by the signatory parties to the National Peace Commission (COPAZ) and the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL).

It is the Commission's opinion that the existence of special agencies, such as the National Peace Commission, ONUSAL and the Truth Commission, does not impinge upon the Commission's own jurisdiction and obligations, deriving from the Pact of San José, which give it the duties, inter alia, of monitoring and issuing its findings on the human rights situation in the countries of the Americas. Nor does that prevent the Commission from availing itself of information gathered by those agencies and interpreting it in light of the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights.

The Commission also understands that when the Republic of El Salvador ratified the American Convention on Human Rights on June 23, 1978, it included that Convention as part of its legal system, with all of the obligations that entails. Article 144, subparagraph 2 of the Salvadoran Constitution reads:

The law may not modify or rescind anything agreed upon in a treaty that is in force for El Salvador. In the event of a conflict between a treaty and the law, the treaty shall prevail.

It is important to recall that Article 1.1 of the American Convention on Human Rights provides that "The States Parties to this Convention undertake to respect the rights and freedoms recognized herein and to ensure to all persons subject to their jurisdiction the free and full exercise of those rights and freedoms, without any discrimination for reasons of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic status, birth, or any other social condition." It should also be recalled that Article 41 of the Convention establishes the Commission's duties as follows:

The main function of the Commission shall be to promote respect for and defense of human rights. In the exercise of its mandate, it shall have the following functions and powers:

a. to develop an awareness of human rights among the peoples of America;

b. to make recommendations to the governments of the member states, when it considers such action advisable, for the adoption of progressive measures in favor of human rights within the framework of their domestic law and constitutional provisions as well as appropriate measures to further the observance of those rights;

c. to prepare such studies or reports as it considers advisable in the performance of its duties;


In light of the above, the Commission considers that the Salvadoran Government's contentions do not excuse it from complying with the obligations it took on when it ratified the American Convention on Human Rights.

In another of its comments, the Salvador Government argues that the amnesty approved by the Legislative Assembly is based on the provisions of Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions.

In the Commission's view, the Protocol cannot be interpreted to cover violations of the fundamental human rights set forth in the American Convention on Human Rights.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is convinced that effective implementation of the measures and institutions deriving from the Peace Accords, which were given sanction by the Salvadoran legislature and Constitution, are likewise essential to attain the peace and stability El Salvador so much needs.

The international comunity is confident that the example of the negotiations between the Salvadoran Government and the FLMN will lead to effective consolidation of peace and democracy. However, the objectives of the Peace Accords have not yet been fully attained, and effective and resolute actions are required to achieve full observance of fundamental human rights and guarantees.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hopes that the elections in March 1994, whose transcendent importance all Salvadorans are aware of, will mark the historic beginning of a new phase for all of the people in the country. But that will be possible only with the vigorous support of the countries' officials who are responsible for seeing to it that the elections are fair and honest.

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