U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

From The Ashes: A Report on Justice in El Salvador

NCJ Number
Date Published
85 pages
Two legal delegations who visited El Salvador in 1985 and 1986 assessed human rights under President Duarte and focused on a judicial reform program funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID).
The delegations determined that Decree 50 establishes special procedures for handling national security cases. Although it was designed to ameliorate harsh aspects of earlier provisions governing political crimes, Decree 50 has had the unfortunate effect of institutionalizing coerced confessions. Security forces continue to use torture and coercion to obtain confessions or information. The delegations also determined that about 90 percent of prisoners arrested for political crimes have never been tried for any crime and that pretrial detention can last for years. Extended pretrial detention is due in part to the judicial system's inability to process the hundreds of pending political prosecutions. The AID project to improve the administration of justice in El Salvador is divided into four components: legal revisory commission, judicial protection unit, commission for investigations, and judicial training. The project's articulated goal is to build and sustain confidence in the Salvadoran civil and criminal justice system by enhancing the ability of the system to ensure speedy and competent crime investigations, arrest and trial of suspects, and protection of innocents from persecution. Deficiencies in the channeling of U.S. assistance are noted, and recommendations to improve both the Salvadoran judicial system and the allocation of U.S. funds are offered. 77 footnotes