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Cablegate: Goes Concerned Romero Case at Iachr Would

VZCZCXRO4684
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHSN #1906 2641810
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 211810Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY SAN SALVADOR
TO RUEKJCS/OASD ISA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7920
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0002

C O N F I D E N T I A L SAN SALVADOR 001906

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/20/2017
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ES
SUBJECT: GOES CONCERNED ROMERO CASE AT IACHR WOULD
UNDERMINE AMNESTY: CONSIDERS WITHDRAWAL FROM HUMAN RIGHTS
COURT

Classified By: Charge D'Affaires Michael A. Butler, Reasons 1.4 (b) and
(d)

1. (C) Summary: Contacts both within and outside the GOES
have expressed concern that the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights (IACHR) is hearing a case that involves a
complaint related to El Salvador,s civil war. Thus, the
case falls under the reservation with which El Salvador
joined the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
(the Court), i.e., exempting all cases related to El
Salvador,s civil war from the jurisdiction of those bodies.
If the case in question (concerning the murder of Monsignor
Romero during the civil war) is heard by the Court, it would
undermine El Salvador,s amnesty statute, which is viewed as
a key instrument for cementing peace in the country. Should
the IACHR refer this complaint to the Court, the GOES has
indicated it would feel compelled to withdraw from the
convention creating the Court and reject its jurisdiction. A
group of three Salvadorans who represented both sides in the
peace negotiations plans to travel to Washington in October
to argue before the Commission that the case should not be
referred to the Court. End Summary.

2. (C) Oscar Bonilla, President of El Salvador,s Public
Security Council (and former wartime FMLN unofficial envoy in
Europe) and Salvador Samayoa (member of the National
Development Committee and FMLN signatory to the peace
accords) have both raised their concerns about a case
currently before the IACHR concerning the 1980 murder of
Monsignor Romero. The case is being presented by an NGO
(CEJIL) with the support of WOLA, several Chilean attorneys,
and others. In the IACHR,s last meeting on the case, the
proposed mediation settlement contained conditions viewed
here as impossible, among them the removal of the monument to
ARENA founder D,Aubuisson.

3. (C) El Salvador placed a reservation on its participation
in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and in the IACHR
that excluded all cases related to the civil war from the
court,s jurisdiction. Both Bonilla and Samayoa have told us
that the GOES will withdraw from the American Convention on
Human Rights and reject the Court,s jurisdiction in this
case if it is referred to and heard by the Court. They
report some in the GOES are prepared to take that move
preemptively.

4. (C)The GOES is considering an approach to the Vatican to
seek the Holy See,s support for dropping the case from the
IACHR without derailing Romero,s beatification. Bonilla
tells us the GOES is also seeking OAS support for removing
this case from the IACHR. On October 10, a delegation
comprised of Oscar Santamaria, a peace negotiator and former
minister of justice and of foreign affairs, David Escobar
Galindo, another peace negotiator, and Salvador Samayoa, the
FMLN,s signatory to the peace accords, will meet with the
IACHR to convince it of the dangers presented by derogating
El Salvador,s amnesty law. Samayoa told us September 20
that the group would be willing to discuss this case with
Department officials while in Washington.

5. (C) Comment and Action Request: El Salvador,s post-war
amnesty law is credited with helping maintain and cement the
peace. We are struck by the fact that officials of the
center-left who were formerly representatives of the FMLN are
among those most concerned about the consequences that could
follow a challenge to it. While the GOES seeks a solution to
this problem short of withdrawal from the Court, it is clear
to us that it is prepared to take that step. Embassy
recommends Department and USOAS see Samayoa, Escobar, and
Santamaria in October.
Butler

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