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Weekly Report - 08 October 2020 (WR-20-40)

EL SALVADOR: Access to military archives sparks fresh institutional row

Civil-society groups have called on the attorney general’s office (FGR) to investigate El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele and military leaders for supposedly “covering up” the 1981 ‘El Mozote’ massacre, when some 1,000 villagers suspected of sympathy with left-wing guerrillas were killed - one of the worst human rights abuses of the 1980-1992 civil war. The call relates to the military’s refusal to provide access to the archives in defiance of a court order and Bukele’s subsequent claim that most of the archives were destroyed in relation to the case. The controversy not only exposes the emptiness of Bukele’s promises made to civil-war victims upon taking office in June 2019. His government’s refusal to heed the court order also fans existing concerns regarding the deterioration of the rule of law [WR-20-39] as well as subjecting Bukele’s relations with the military - which already drew concern following its takeover of congress on 9 February [WR-20-06] - to fresh scrutiny.

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