Justice in El Salvador: The Civil War & Beyond

Chris Bello (’21) and Inesha Premaratne (’21) engaged in advocacy work on behalf of two Salvadorans who were kidnapped, detained, and tortured during their native country’s 12-year civil war. Although they successfully brought civil claims against two Salvadoran generals in U.S. federal court, and helped to get the two men deported, they have been unable to seek justice in El Salvador due to an amnesty law that prevented the investigation, prosecution, and imprisonment of people responsible for war crimes during that time period. However, the Supreme Court of El Salvador declared this law unconstitutional in 2016. The students worked with local prosecutors, non-profits, and other stakeholders in the region to conceptualize strategies for ending impunity for international human rights violations and mass atrocity crimes in light of the opening created by the dismantling of the amnesty. Advanced student Alyssa Martinez (20) continued work on a submission before a court in El Salvador that is prosecuting individuals accused of masterminding and carrying out the 1981 El Mozote massacre, in which hundreds of civilians were slaughtered by the military.