The Latest on Tutela Legal: Attorney General Intervenes, Archbishop Changing Discourse
Just over three weeks have passed since Monsignor José Luis Alas Escobar, Archbishop of San Salvador issued a decree to close Tutela Legal, the Archdiocese’s renowned human rights legal aid office, and every week the situation becomes more complex. The Archbishop continues to change his discourse about the reasons for the closure. Victims’ access to the office’s archives, which include documentation of over 50,000 cases of human rights violations, including 80% of the cases in the 1993 Truth Commission report, remains questionable.
In the most shocking intervention since the initial bombshell of Tutela’s closure, on Friday October 18th, representatives of the Attorney General’s Office forcefully entered the Archdiocese declaring their intent to seize the archives. The media began to announce the presence of the representatives of the Attorney General’s Office in Tutela Legal around four in the afternoon, and members of human rights organizations gathered outside the Archdiocese to verify the proceedings.
David Morales, Human Rights Ombudsman immediately requested entrance for his representatives, but both the Attorney General and the Archdiocese denied their entry. A police unit, however, was allowed in. Members of human rights organizations asked Monsignor Urrutia why representatives of the Human Rights Ombudsman’s office were not allowed in and he simply lifted his hands, as if washing them of responsibility. Representatives of FESPAD reported that around 8:30 in the evening, two trucks and a lab vehicle with the back end covered belonging to the Attorney General’s office and a car with its license plates covered exited the Archdiocese. Covering license plates was a tactic commonly used by death squads in the 1980s.