Lawyer: veto to pro-impunity law in El Salvador demands a counterproposal

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SAN SALVADOR (Sputnik) – The eventual presidential veto on a proposed National Reconciliation Law in El Salvador demands a coherent counterproposal, or it will be another empty gesture, Sputnik warned the lawyer Benjamín Cuellar, promoter of the demand that led to the repeal in 2016 of the Amnesty Law of 1993.

“President Nayib Bukele can veto the proposal, but he must present a variant, or his veto will have been simply to look good with the victims of the armed conflict: if he wants we can help him prepare a coherent law,” the former director of the Institute of Human Rights of the Central American University (IDHUCA).

Cuellar reiterated that Bukele can take up his law initiative and propose a draft according to the criteria of truth, transitional justice, comprehensive reparation for victims of human rights violations and guarantees of non-repetition, as ordered by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice when repealing Amnesty.
Next Friday the third extension granted by the aforementioned Chamber to the Legislative Assembly (Parliament) expires, so that it approves a new law of Reconciliation, and last Monday a draft prepared without the participation of the victims of the conflict was presented, and questioned for promoting impunity for perpetrators.

For Cuellar, luck was cast since Deputy Mario Ponce, president of the current legislature, announced the existence of said draft and his call for an extraordinary session to submit it for approval.
“We knew that (the proposal) was going to protect with impunity those responsible for the atrocious events that occurred in this country: not those who carried out orders, but those who gave them,” said the expert.
Cuéllas said that the new law does not establish exemplary and proportional punishments with human rights violations perpetrated by both the Armed Forces, the National Guard and the Treasury Police, as well as by the guerrilla of the Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN) .

For example, he criticized the deadlines of between six months and a year established to investigate and prosecute allegations of human rights violations, which especially affects victims, who lack the resources to complain.
In addition, he questioned that if a defendant confesses his crime, expresses regret, apologizes or compensates a victim, the penalty is automatically reduced to only one fifth of the stipulated penalty for the crime in question.
“The objective of an exemplary sanction is to send a message to the perpetrators, who know that their actions have consequences: impunity is not only a lack of punishment, but to apply a penalty that is not consistent with the size of the crime,” Cuéllar insisted.

Several international investigations indicate that the conflict in El Salvador left some 75,000 dead and missing, without those responsible having responded to the courts for serious human rights violations and war crimes.

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