Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Church applauds Salvadoran government's decision on Romero

There have been many news stories on the topic of the Funes administration's decision to implement the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recommendations with respect to fully investigating the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero. I chose to translate this one because it also includes reaction from the Catholic Church.

EFE News Agency

Today, the Salvadoran Catholic Church celebrated the decision by the government of Mauricio Funes to implement the recommendations of the IACHR on the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, and asked that the memory of the prelate not be "manipulated".

"We are sympathetic to this gesture by President Funes and ask the Lord that the decisions that will be taken in the coming months to put the commitment that has been made into effect contribute to the reconciliation of the Salvadoran family," said Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chavez, auxilliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Salvador.

The prelate said, without elaborating, that "this implies that the martyrdom of the pastor is to be treated with utmost respect, leaving aside any intent to manipulate his memory."

"This is sacred, we can not touch Romero with dirty hands," Rosa Chavez said at a news conference, and he opined that "justice must be done, but in order to achieve forgiveness so that society can be reconciled."

He noted also that the official decision is the culmination of an effort begun by Archbishop Arturo Rivera y Damas, who sued the State before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) for failing to properly investigate the murder of Romero.

On the announcement by the Funes government, which acknowledged "fully" the authority of the IACHR and the binding nature of its recommendations, Rosa Chávez said that "thus the commitment to comply with the provisions of the resolution issued by the agency in 2000 has been solemnly affirmed."

The IACHR recommended that the Salvadoran government expeditiously carry out a complete, impartial and effective judicial investigation into the case, in order to identify, prosecute and punish all perpetrators both actual and accessory, despite an amnesty law enacted in 1993.

It also ordered the State to remedy all the consequences of human rights violations committed, including payment of fair compensation, and to adjust its domestic legislation to the American Convention to rescind the amnesty.

In this regard, the general director of Human Rights in the Foreign Ministry, David Morales, provided the Commission with the Funes government's commitment "to comply in good faith" and to the extent possible with the recommendations of that body.

Romero was murdered while celebrating mass on March 24, 1980 by government agents who were part of death squads.

The Truth Commission, which investigated war crimes in that country, identified as the mastermind of the assassination of Romero the founder of the Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena, a right-wing party), Roberto D'Aubuisson, now deceased.

But the amnesty law, passed one year after the Peace Accords that ended the civil war in the country (1980-1992), left the crime unpunished.

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