Preserving Impunity

The evidence says Salvadoran soldiers killed tens of thousands of people during the 12-year civil war. Yet only one senior military officer has ever been convicted in a human-rights case. Under the new amnesty law, even that won't stick. The government has released Colonel Guillermo Benavides, previously sentenced to 30 years for the 1989 slayings of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. Amnesty will also prevent future trials for those accused of wartime excesses, including Defense Minister Rene Emilio Ponce, accused of planning the murders.

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