Letter to Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Events in El Salvador, July 8, 1980

Year Published
  • 2013
  • English


Bishop Thomas C. Kelly, O.P.
July 8, 1980


I wish to register the profound concern of the United States Catholic Conference over the unprovoked, unjustified and illegal invasion Saturday, July 5, by official troops of the government of El Salvador of the offices of Soccorro Juridico, the legal information and aid office sponsored by the Archdiocese of San Salvador.

This agency has for over a year been the principal authoritative source of documented information on human rights violations throughout the country and has provided critically important services to persons arrested or charged with political offenses.

The invasion and search of its office, located in the Colegio Externado San Jose, the private secondary school conducted by the Jesuits, at a time when the offices were closed and when the acting Archbishop, Mons. Arturo Rivera Y Damas, was in Brazil with the Holy Father, was a most reprehensible and cowardly act.

While the act itself cannot be compared in terms of human suffering with the escalating number of reported atrocities committed, in the main, against simple peasants and workers, it does strike at the heart of the very system of laws and guarantees which all modern societies, including that of El Salvador, purport to provide for their citizens.

I urge the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to avail itself of all possible resources to investigate and seek immediate remedy for this ominous act.