SAN SALVADOR – Nearly 25 years after the end of its 1980-1992 civil war, El Salvador still has a debt pending with victims of that conflict while also experiencing a spiral of violence that leaves thousands dead every year and many children and adolescents vulnerable to recruitment by gangs, national ombud Raquel Caballero said on Wednesday.
Caballero said the Salvadoran government had taken small but insufficient steps to make amends to families affected by the war, which claimed the lives of around 75,000 people, and called for a law to be passed to provide reparations.
Two months before Caballero took office for a three-year term, El Salvador’s Supreme Court struck down a 1993 law that had provided a blanket amnesty for crimes committed during the armed conflict.
That ruling has cleared the way for investigations into war crimes such as murders and enforced disappearances and opened the possibility of redress for victims.
In a public appearance in San Salvador, Caballero also expressed concern about the lack of measures to protect children and adolescents from being forcibly recruited by gangs.
More than 5,100 homicides have been committed this year in El Salvador, down from 6,670 in 2015; authorities attribute much of the violence to gangs, which have thousands of members, control broad swaths of the country and run extortion rackets and carry out killings-for-hire.
The Salvadoran government “has not taken any preventative action to protect children amid the climate of violence in El Salvador,” Caballero said.
In 2015, a total of 979 minors, including 227 gang members, were convicted of various crimes in El Salvador, according to official figures to which EFE gained access.
A total of 410 minors were killed between January and September, a figure that was down from the 592 murdered in the same period of 2015.