January 8, 2016 — Today, General José Guillermo García, the former Defense Minister of El Salvador who was found liable for human rights violations during the country’s civil war in the 1980s, was removed from the United States after living as a legal resident in Florida for over 25 years.
CJA Senior Legal Advisor Carolyn Patty Blum said: “The removal of General García is a historic moment for the victims and survivors of human rights abuses during El Salvador’s civil war. The removal from the United States of García and that of former Minister of Defense Vides Casanova, generals who carried out horrendous crimes while they were in control of the army and security forces during the Salvadoran civil war, is unprecedented. This outcome is a testament to the years of hard work of human rights activists in El Salvador and the United States and the dedication of lawyers, researchers and others in the Department of Homeland Security. García’s removal to El Salvador hopefully will be a new impetus for the repeal of El Salvador’s decades-old amnesty law, which has been ruled illegal under international law, and will clear the path for García to face criminal accountability in his own country.”
García’s removal came on the heels of an immigration appeals board decision, which upheld his removability from the United States for assisting and participating in the torture and extrajudicial killings of civilians, including the torture of CJA client Juan Romagoza Arce. In 2014, Immigration Judge Michael C. Horn determined that Guillermo García assisted or otherwise participated in some of the most heinous human rights crimes committed in El Salvador in the 1980s, including the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, the killing of four American churchwomen and two U.S. labor advisors, the massacre at El Mozote, and the torture of Salvadoran citizens.
CJA has fought to bring General García to justice since 1999, when he was one of two defendants in a civil case brought by CJA on behalf of torture survivors Carlos R. Mauricio, Romagoza, and Neris Gonzalez. CJA’s case resulted in a multi-million dollar jury verdict finding General Vides Casanova and General García liable for the torture of the three plaintiffs.
Contact: Lisa Cohen, 310-395-2544 [email protected]
About the Center for Justice and Accountability
The Center for Justice and Accountability is an international human rights organization dedicated to deterring torture, war crimes, crimes against humanity and other severe human rights abuses around the world through litigation, policy advocacy and outreach in pursuit of truth, justice and redress for victims and survivors.