Magazine article UN Chronicle

Central America: UN to Verify 1994 Elections in El Salvador; Truth Commission Report Issued

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Central America: UN to Verify 1994 Elections in El Salvador; Truth Commission Report Issued

Article excerpt

The Security Council on 9 February welcomed with satisfaction El Salvador's request that the UN verify the general elections in that country in March 1994.

However, in a statement issued following consultations (S/25257), it expressed concern that the Government of El Salvador had yet to comply fully with recommendations concerning the purification of its armed forces and that the Frente Farabundo Marti para la Liberacion Nacional (FMLN) had not completed the destruction of its weapons by the agreed deadline and was therefore not yet in full compliance with the peace agreements.

Stressing the solemn nature of the undertakings made by the parties, the Council strongly urged them to persist in their determination to complete the process of bringing peace and national reconciliation to El Salvador and continue cooperating with the Secretary-General's efforts to ensure full implementation of those agreements.

The Council also welcomed the important progress made thus far in the implementation of the peace process in El Salvador, emphasizing the formal end to the 12-year armed conflict on 15 December 1992.

In a 26 January letter, Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali informed the Council of El Salvador's request for verification of elections which, he believed, would be the "first to take place after the end of the conflict" and should constitute the "logical culmination of the entire peace process."

Personnel needed for the verification exercise, the Secretary-General added, would "be phased in as required by the electoral process and their assignment would end immediately after the elections".

Purification of armed forces

Details on the implementation of the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Commission on purification of the Armed Forces in El Salvador, which concerned 103 officers, were reported to the Security Council by the Secretary-General on 7 January (S/25078).

One officer, Mr. Boutros-Ghali stated, was "no longer a serving member of the Armed Forces". Of the remaining 102, it had been recommended that 26 should be transferred to other functions and 76 be discharged.

Measures taken with regard to 87 officers either complied fully with Commission recommendations or were "satisfactory in the circumstances". However, Mr. Boutros-Ghali concluded that the decisions to appoint seven officers as military attaches and defer action on eight others were "not in compliance with the Commission's recommendations".

Since his mandate was to "seek full compliance by each side with all the commitments" under the peace accords, the Secretary-General said he had asked El Salvador President Alfredo Cristiani to "take early action to regularize the position of the 15 officers".

Commission on the Truth report

On 15 March, a 210-page report on the worst and most widespread human rights violations in El Salvador between 1980 and July 1991 was made public at UN Headquarters by the three-member Commission on the Truth. That body was officially installed in July 1992 to investigate acts of violence committed by both sides during the conflict, which claimed an estimated 75,000 lives and resulted in more than a million refugees.

Introducing the report, Commission Chairman Belisario Betancur, former President of Colombia, told correspondents that "violence was a flame which had ravaged the roots of El Salvador" and "turned everything into destruction and death". The Commission hoped, however, that the lessons of the past would help Salvadorians to "build a new country and society", he added.

The other Commission members are Reinaldo Figueredo Planchart, former Venezuelan Foreign Minister, and Thomas Buergenthal, an American law professor.

Produced in Spanish, the report names the institutions and individuals responsible for serious human rights abuses. It calls for their immediate removal from their present posts and recommends that they be "barred from holding public office for 10 years

Individuals referred to include former Minister of Defence, General Rene Emilio Ponce (who resigned on 12 March), Vice-Minister General Orlando Zepeda, and other prominent members of the Salvadorian Army. …

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