Human rights organizations lodged a criminal complaint Friday against 25 El Salvadoran soldiers and a former officer for their alleged involvement in the murder of four Dutch journalists during the 12 year civil war.
The complaint, which was filed in the municipality of Dulce Nombre de Maria, comes against a backdrop of protracted international activism calling for the accountability of those involved. This latest effort to seek judicial redress has led to the indictment of Colonel Reyes Mena and 25 soldiers for the alleged murder of four Dutch journalists on March 17, 1982. In a 1993 report, the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador concluded that the ambush which resulted in the death of the four journalists was conducted under the direction of Colonel Mena.
Following the war that left over 75,000 civilians dead, attempts towards accountability for the crimes were thwarted by El Salvador’s Law on Amnesty, which granted absolute amnesty to all the perpetrators of the civil war. However, this position was overturned by a landmark decision by the El Salvador Supreme Court which declared that the amnesty law was unconstitutional. Foll0wing this decision, there have been renewed efforts to ensure accountability for the perpetrators and justice for the victims.
A keen interest has been placed on the this case particularly due to the fact that it also boarders on the freedom of journalism- an integral facet of any open and democratic state.