REPORT No. 177/10
CASE 10.720
MERITS
THE MASSACRES OF EL MOZOTE AND NEIGHBORING LOCALES
1
EL SALVADOR
November 3, 2010

I.

SUMMARY

1.
On October 30, 1990, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (hereinafter
referred to as the “Inter-American Commission,” the “Commission” or the “IACHR”) received a petition
2
from the Oficina de Tutela Legal [Legal Aid Office] of the Archdiocese of San Salvador (hereinafter
referred to as “the petitioners”) alleging that the Republic of El Salvador (“the State”, the “Salvadoran
State”, or “El Salvador”) had violated various provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights
(“the American Convention”, or “the Convention”). The petitioners alleged a series of extrajudicial mass
executions carried out on December 11, 12 and 13, 1981 in the village of El Mozote and in neighboring
localities in the municipal jurisdiction of Meanguera, Department of Morazán, in the context of the armed
conflict than being waged in El Salvador. As well, they alleged that these deeds had gone unpunished
because of the absence of a diligent investigation and application of the General Amnesty Law for
Consolidation of the Peace.
2.
For its part, the Salvadoran State alleged that, in the context of the armed conflict, it had
made every effort within its power to protect the civilian population and to provide it with the needed
humanitarian assistance, without distinction. It argued that the victims had presented their complaint
several years after the facts, which made it difficult to obtain the results of the investigations. According to
the State, the judicial authorities performed the steps considered necessary and were reasonable in their
application of the General Amnesty Law, which it called the “basis for national reconciliation”. It
mentioned that in October 2000 the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice declared
that this law was not in itself unconstitutional, and that it was consequently up to each judge to apply it or
not. The State argued that, while further evidence had been obtained from subsequent exhumations, that
evidence was merely circumstantial and could not serve to identify the guilty parties.
3.
After reviewing the position of the parties, the Inter-American Commission has concluded
that the State of El Salvador was responsible for violating the rights to life, to humane treatment, to
personal liberty and to privacy, as well as the rights of the child, the right to property, the right to a fair
trial, the right to freedom of movement and residence, and the right to judicial protection, enshrined in
articles 4, 5, 7, 11, 19, 21, 22, 8 and 25 of the American Convention, taken in conjunction with the
obligations of articles 1.1 and 2 of that instrument, as well as articles 1, 6 and 8 of the American
Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture and article 7 of the Inter-American Convention on the
Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women.
II.

PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE COMMISSION

4.
The Oficina de Tutela Legal of the Archdiocese of San Salvador (hereinafter “the Tutela
Legal”) presented the initial petition in a communication dated October 30, 1990. The processing of that
case from presentation of the petition until a decision on admissibility is described in detail in the
3
admissibility report issued on March 2, 2006.

1
Pursuant to the provisions of article 17.2 of the Commission’s rules of procedure, Commissioner Maria Silvia Guillén, of
Salvadoran nationality, did not participate in the discussion or in the decision on this report.
2

The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) constituted itself as a co-petitioner in a subsequent stage.

3

IACHR, Report 24/06, Case 10.720 (Admissibility), El Mozote Massacre, El Salvador, March 2, 2006.

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