US sanctions ex-soldiers for 1989 Salvador killings

The US State Department on Jan. 29 announced sanctions against 13 former Salvadoran military officials for their involvement in the 1989 killings of eight individuals. The former officials were found to be implicated in gross human rights violations when they planned and carried out the extrajudicial execution of six Jesuit priests and two others on the campus of Central American University in El Salvador on Nov. 16, 1989. The officials were designated under Section 7031(c) of the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriation Act 2019. Section 7031(c) states that when the Secretary of State has credible information that current or former foreign government officials have been involved, whether directly or indirectly, with human rights violations or corruption, those individuals and their immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the US.

In its press statement, the State Department said that: "The United States supports the ongoing accountability, reconciliation, and peace efforts in El Salvador. We value our ongoing working relationship with the Salvadoran Armed Forces, but will continue to use all available tools and authorities, as appropriate, to address human rights violations and abuses around the world no matter when they occurred or who perpetrated them. Today's actions underscore our support for human rights and our commitment to promoting accountability for perpetrators and encouraging reconciliation and a just and lasting peace."

From Jurist, Jan. 30. Used with permission.

Note: Nine former Salvadoran military officials accused in the 1989 massacre were arrested in 2011 following the issuance of an Interpol "red notice" at the request of judicial authorities in Spain, but El Salvador's supreme court refused to approve extradition. In another new reckoning with the horrific bloodshed in El Salvador in the 1980s, a retired general on Jan. 20 for the first time acknowledged state responsibility for the Mozote massacre. Juan Rafael Bustillo, a former commander of the Air Force, told a court in Morazán department that the elite US-trained Atlacatl Battalion carried out the December 1981 slaying of some 1,000 unarmed peasants at the village. (Al Jazeera)