REPORT N° 24/06 1
CASE 10.720
ADMISSIBILITY
EL MOZOTE MASSACRE
EL SALVADOR
March 2, 2006
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 from the Legal Aid Office [Oficina de Tutela Legal] of the Office of the Archbishop of
San Salvador (hereinafter referred to as "the petitioners") alleging the international
responsibility of El Salvador ("the State") for violating the human rights of 765 persons
(hereinafter referred to as "the alleged victims") executed extrajudicially during a military
operation said to have been conducted by the Salvadoran military in the cantons of La Joya
and Cerro Pando and in the hamlets of El Mozote, Jocote Amarillo, Ranchería and Los Toriles in
December 1981. The petitioners alleged that the events infringed several rights protected by
the American Convention on Human Rights ("the American Convention"), namely: the right to
life (Article 4), to humane treatment (Article 5), to personal liberty (Article 7), to a fair trial
(Article 8), to honor and dignity (Article 11), the rights of children (Article 19), the right to
private property (Article 21) and to judicial section (Article 25) all in violation of the general
duty to respect and guarantee those rights (Article 1.1).
2. Concerning the admissibility of the petition, the petitioners in this case claimed an exception
to the rule on prior exhaustion of internal remedies because of the climate of violence
prevailing when the massacre took place, as well as the behavior of the authorities in
investigating the case. In response, the Salvadoran State argued the inadmissibility of the
complaint on the grounds that it did not meet the requirements of Article 46.1.a of the
American Convention. The petitioners, the State contended, did not make proper use of the
internal remedies, having had the possibility of appealing the final dismissal of the case
ordered by a judge on September 4, 1994.
3. After reviewing the positions of the parties, the Commission concludes that it has
jurisdiction to rule on the petition and that the case is admissible under Article 46 of the
American Convention. Consequently, the Commission decides to make its decision known to
the parties, to continue hearing the merits of the case in terms of the alleged violations of the
American Convention, to publish this Admissibility Report and to include it in its Annual Report
to the OAS General Assembly.
II.

PROCEDURE BEFORE THE COMMISSION

4. On October 30, 1990, the Commission received from the Legal Aid Office of the Office of the
Archbishop of San Salvador a complaint to which the number 10.720 was assigned. On
November 9, 1990, the IACHR conveyed the complaint to the Government of El Salvador,
asking for an answer within 90 days. On January 28, 1992, the IACHR again asked the State to
supply the information requested in November 1990. On April 24, 1992, the petitioners
submitted additional information. On May 28, 1992, the State filed its comments on the
petition. On June 3, 1992, the IACHR conveyed to the petitioners the information supplied by
the State. On August 27, 1992, the Commission again asked the petitioners for the information
requested in June 1992. On September 27 and October 8, 1993, the State provided additional
information on the status of its internal criminal proceedings.
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ommissioner Florentín Meléndez, a Salvadoran national, did not take part in the discussion and decisions on this
report, as provided in Article 17.2.a of the Rules of Procedure of the IACHR.

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