Peace Without Justice: Obstacles to Building the Rule of Law in El Salvador / Edition 1

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Popkin analyzes the role of international actors, notably the United States and the United Nations, and the contributions and limitations of international assistance in efforts to establish accountability and reform the justice system in El Salvador. The author discusses the essential role of civil society in attempts to establish accountability and an effective justice system for all, and looks at the reasons for and the consequences of the limited role played by Salvadorean civil society. She also addresses the challenges facing democratic reform efforts in the context of a postwar crime wave.

Peace Without Justice grew out of Margaret Popkin’s extensive experience working as a human rights advocate in El Salvador during the armed conflict and interviews with a variety of Salvadorans and others involved in justice reform and in negotiating and implementing the peace accords.

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Editorial Reviews

Rachel Sieder
Margaret Popkin's lucid examination of El Salvador aims to illuminate the lessons and pitfalls of international involvement in strengthening and constructing locally the rule of law...her book will appeal to anyone interested in the challenges of building peace and securing justice in the twenty-first century.
Times Literary Supplement
From the Publisher

“Popkin offers a measured, thoughtful study, one rich in details and bibliographical annotation.”

—Arthur Schmidt, The Americas

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271019987
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Margaret L. Popkin is Executive Director of the Due Process of Law Foundation and former Program Director for Africa and Latin America at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights in Washington, D.C. She served as Deputy Director of the Human Rights Institute of the Central American University in San Salvador (1985–92) and has worked as a consultant to the United Nations and to the Lawyers Committee on Human Rights (1992–93).

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Table of Contents

Preface vii
Acknowledgments xi
Abbreviations xiv
Introduction 1
1. The Context for Early Reform Efforts: The Salvadoran Legal System in Historical Perspective 11
Actors in the Criminal Justice System 15
Salvadoran Criminal Procedures: The Quasi-Inquisitorial Model 27
States of Emergency and Political Detentions 35
Entrenched Impunity 41
2. Criminal Justice and Reform Efforts During the War Years 49
U.S. Efforts to Curb Human Rights Abuses: The Big Case Focus 50
The Administration of Justice (AOJ) Project in El Salvador 57
Salvadoran Efforts to Promote Judicial Reform During the War Years 73
Judicial Reform Moves onto the Salvadoran Political Agenda 76
3. Addressing Justice Issues in the Peace Negotiations 81
The Human Rights Accord 82
Confronting Past Impunity in the Peace Negotiations 85
Negotiating Judicial Reform 97
4. The Challenge of Implementing the Agreements to End Impunity 105
Purging the Military 106
The Truth Commission's Work 109
The Truth Commission's "Binding" Recommendations 125
The Commission's Report, the Role of the Courts, and the Amnesty Law 140
The Truth Commission: An Overall Perspective 159
5. Institutionalizing the Safeguards Included in the Peace Accords 165
The National Counsel for the Defense of Human Rights 166
The National Civilian Police (PNC) 175
The Role of Salvadoran Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) 192
6. Justice Reform in the Postwar Years 197
The Supreme Court and Judicial Governance 201
The Role of the Attorney General's Office 217
Protecting Individual Rights: Criminal Justice Reform 218
7. Lessons from the Salvadoran Experience: The Role of International Actors and Civil Society in Building the Rule of Law and Establishing Accountability 243
Bibliography 265
Index 277
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