SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — Catholic Church leaders in El Salvador have condemned a proposal being considered by lawmakers that would grant amnesty to those who committed serious crimes during the country’s civil conflict in the 1980s and early 1990s.
The Episcopal Conference of El Salvador said in a statement Sunday that it would be an “unjust” law that would protect the perpetrators of heinous crimes while offering no reparations or protections for victims of human rights abuses.
The constitutional arm of El Salvador’s Supreme Court ordered the congress in 2016 to draft a new reconciliation law by July 2019 that would lead to truth, justice and reparations for victims of the conflict.
More than 75,000 people were killed and 10,000 others went missing during the decade-long conflict in the Central American country.
The bishops’ conference statement said the proposed law would be “completely unjust” because “instead of protecting and healing the victims, it would revictimize them and protect the perpetrators by promoting impunity.”
The bishops called for “a law of true reconciliation through a transitional justice exercise that protects and provides reparation to the victims.”
When presenting the message, the country’s top prelate said the Church would always be on the side of the victims, and be their advocate.
“We are interested in participating in an authentic reconciliation law, just in favor of the victims as it should be, and we would like to participate” in the process, said Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Escobar Alas said “the attempt to pass a law like this amnesty law, which some have said is worse than law that was repealed, does not make sense.”
“It is absurd to issue an amnesty law that seeks to cover all crimes, including crimes against humanity,” the archbishop added.
Crux staff contributed to this report.