Angelina Godoy, a professor of international studies and director of the UW Center for Human Rights, was in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Nov. 2, to support former political prisoners from El Salvador as they presented complaints before an arm of the Organization of American States.
Carlos Santos, who spoke at the meeting, was one of hundreds of men and women tortured in Salvadoran prisons during the civil war from 1980 to 1992. Salvadoran courts have denied the former prisoners redress, so Santos addressed the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. He is a member the Committee of Political Prisoners of El Salvador. Wednesdays proceedings were the first step, Godoy said, in what will probably be a years-long fight to make El Salvador officially acknowledge that Santos and others like him were wrongfully imprisoned and mistreated.
The 2009 election of Mauricio Funes, of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation party, to the Salvadoran presidency has increased possibilities for dialogue about the past, Godoy said, but none of the officials responsible for war crimes have been brought to justice.
Godoy, who holds the Helen H. Jackson Chair of Human Rights, also plans to introduce the Salvadorans to leaders of various human rights organizations in the Washington area. She is working with members of the Committee of Political Prisoners on a book documenting their experiences. The Center for Human Rights collaboration with the former prisoners is supported by the Puffin Foundation.