Lawsuit against OAS anti-corruption commission held by the Salvadoran Supreme Court

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) of El Salvador has in its hands a demand that questions the attachment to the Constitution of the way in which the Salvadoran Government and the Organization of American States (OAS) gave life to an international commission against impunity and corruption.

The Government of Nayib Bukele and the OAS signed an agreement in early September 2019 to launch and implement the International Commission against Impunity in El Salvador (Cicies).

Banishing corruption from public administration became a point of honor on his Bukele agenda during the 2019 presidential election campaign, in which he constantly criticized his adversaries' parties for their alleged relationship with cases of embezzlement. public funds


Aldo Cáder, magistrate of the Constitutional Chamber, recently said that a citizen filed a petition for unconstitutionality related to the "initial agreement" signed between the Salvadoran government and the OAS.

He explained that this demand does not question the "work" of the referred commission, but rather "a first protocol of understanding" that was signed "to begin to walk on the issue of the Cicies."

The magistrate said that the demand has not yet been admitted for resolution and that they should analyze "whether it is well raised or not."


Although initially the Salvadoran population expected Cicies to be a kind of twin of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (Cicig), the Salvadoran entity will only provide technical support to the Office of the Prosecutor and conduct administrative investigations in the Executive.

This was one of the first criticisms that Cicies received from different sectors, who hoped it would first pass through the approval of Congress to have special powers.

The nature of the Cicies was finally clarified by the OAS spokesperson, Ronalth Ochaeta, in mid-December.

"We are not going to investigate cases, we are going to do forensic audits in the Executive," he said during a television interview.

He pointed out that if in these audits they find "elements or evidence" about crimes, "we will present the notice to the Attorney General's Office (FGR) so that they can do the investigation."

In fact, both entities signed on December 9 an agreement that seeks to strengthen the technical capabilities of the Salvadoran Public Ministry.

"We are strengthening the technical assistance that the OAS will provide to continue pursuing, detecting and investigating the crime, and will strengthen our action in the criminal work and eradication of corruption and impunity," said Attorney General Raul Melara at a press conference. .


Bukele's government plan, presented before the elections last February and called the Cuscatlan Plan, presents three steps for the creation of the Cicies, of which one is missing.

This plan raises the request for assistance to the OAS or the United Nations, the signing of an agreement and its approval in Congress to "make it law and give the necessary powers" to the Cicies.

However, to date it is unknown if the Executive has asked the deputies to take this last step.


Prosecutor Melara said that one of the first cases in which the Public Ministry will request assistance from Cicies is in the investigation related to the irregular construction of the El Chaparral dam.

Melar told El Diario de Hoy that "one of the cases in which we are going to ask for the assistance of the Cicies is in the investigations we carry out of El Chaparral and others."

On January 4, 2019, the Salvadoran Prosecutor's Office accused former President Mauricio Funes (2009-2014) before a court for the alleged irregular handling of $ 108.5 million of the construction of the dam.

The fight against corruption in El Salvador was driven in recent years by the work of the Probity Section of the Supreme Court, whose administrative investigations resulted in civil proceedings and these in criminal cases.


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