Strategic litigation

Why it matters

In 2015 and 2016, El Salvador led the world list of killings per capita, with 109 and 81 intentional homicides per 100,000 people, respectively. To complicate the problem, 19 out of 20 murders in the Northern Triangle remain unresolved. This cycle of violence and impunity has deep roots in the history of the region. After the 12-year civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s, a general amnesty law was passed, which protected perpetrators of war crimes. This law embodies a generalized attitude that crimes will not be punished and victims do not matter. In 2016, the Supreme Court of El Salvador ruled that the amnesty law was unconstitutional, which allowed for justice for human rights violations for decades. Success in strategic and emblematic cases helps restore credibility in the Salvadoran justice system today. You can send a powerful message about truth and justice throughout the continent.

What we do


Our strategic litigation program uses lawsuits to advance the processes of legal, social or other change in rights that goes beyond the immediate objectives of the complainant. Currently, Cristosal is supporting the prosecution of the El Mozote massacre of 1981, one of the most serious war crimes in the world, and the El Calabozo massacre in 1982. "In solving this historical debt with the victims of the war, we helped to El Salvador to transform the structures of oppression and impunity and strengthen access to justice for families affected by violence and human rights violations at present, "says David Morales, prosecutor and director of Strategic Litigation at Cristosal.

El Mozote Trial

In December 1981, the Alacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran Army, trained in the USA UU., He systematically killed 1,000 people in the town of El Mozote. It is considered the largest massacre of civilians by government forces in Latin America. After the civil war an amnesty law was passed that prevents the prosecution of war crimes, which symbolizes a generalized attitude that crimes will not be punished and victims do not matter. In July 2016, the Supreme Court of El Salvador revoked the amnesty law. Now, Cristosal is supporting legal guardianship in its private prosecution of the case. The case of El Mozote is more than demanding deserved justice for the victims of El Mozote and their families. It is also setting a precedent in the national legal system and showing the current victims of violence that the legal system can and will act for them. The search for justice for violations of human rights sends a message that not only resonates in El Salvador, but throughout the world. Through the case of El Mozote, Cristosal emphasizes that human rights violations, against all humans everywhere, are unacceptable.

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