Paramilitary Groups: Chapultepec Peace Agreement

CHAPULTEPEC AGREEMENT (16 January 1992)

Chapter I: Armed Forces

10. Paramilitary bodies

A. The Parties recognize the principle that any paramilitary force or group must be proscribed in a State governed by the rule of law.

B. Civil defence. Civil defence units shall be disbanded. This process shall be gradual and shall be subject to the implementation timetable for the peace agreements.

C. System of armed forces reserves. A new system of armed forces reserves shall replace the present system of territorial service, according to the following terms:

a. The system shall be responsible for the organization and functioning of the following aspects: (1) up-to-date registration of citizens in reserve status and citizens fit for military service;(2) updating of the military skills of reserves; (3) when necessary, calling reserves up for active duty to perform the mission entrusted to the armed forces by the Constitution.

b. The new system shall be under the authority of the Ministry of Defence.

c. Armed forces reserves may undertake missions only if assigned to active duty in the armed forces and in conformity with the Constitution, and shall not perform any function related to public security or monitoring of the population or the territory.

d. The laws, regulations and orders in force on this subject shall be made compatible with the terms of this Agreement.

D. Regulation of private security services. The Parties recognize the need to regulate the activities of all those entities, groups or persons who provide security or protection to private individuals, corporations or State institutions, in order to guarantee the transparency of their activities and also their strict subordination to the law and to respect for human rights. To that end:

a. A special law shall regulate the activities of entities, groups or persons who provide security or protection to private individuals, corporations or State institutions. That law shall establish the requirements which must be met in order to offer and provide such services; a system for the public registration of the staff, weapons and offices, if any, of such groups, entities or persons; appropriate oversight mechanisms, including their supervision by the National Civil Police; and, in general, the necessary limitations and prohibitions to ensure that such security services operate exclusively within the framework of the law.

b. The law shall also establish peremptory deadlines for fulfilling the above requirements, where relevant. Once those deadlines have expired, entities which have not fulfilled the above requirements shall be considered illegal and their members and organizers shall be subject to application of the corresponding legal penalties.

c. To that end, the Parties express their agreement with the outline of the preliminary legislative draft included as an annex to this Agreement, which they refer to COPAZ, together with the above considerations, for it to prepare the corresponding preliminary draft.

Implementation History

1992

Minimum Implementation

The Armed Forces of El Salvador (FAES) carried out the disbandment of civil defense units in April and May 1992. Although they were nominally integrated into the FAES on schedule, the Treasury Police and National Guard failed to abandon their barracks by the established deadline.1 The Parties subsequently reached a negotiated agreement to concentrate forces in the established areas by 25 June 1992, and to present legislation to definitively abolish the National Guard and Treasury Police and establish a “Special Brigade for Military Security” by 30 June 1992.2 The FAES disbanded the Territorial Service by 30 July 1992. The FMLN also completed the concentration of combatants according to the agreement by 26 June 1992. Some small groups of armed and uniformed persons in support of “public security committees” remained outside the concentration sites, but with pressure from ONUSAL, these groups also complied with the concentration agreements by 30 August 1992.3

The FAES failed to begin recovering military weapons from private individuals on time, and it continued to postpone the process despite pressure from ONUSAL.4

  • 1. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/23999), May 26, 1992; “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council, (S/24833), November 23, 1992.
  • 2. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/23999/Add.1), June 16, 1992.
  • 3. United Nations Security Council, (S/24833).
  • 4. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador (ONUSAL),” United Nations Security Council, (S/25006), December 23, 1992.
1993

Minimum Implementation

The FAES was slow to fulfill its duty to recover military weapons held by private individuals, and ONUSAL expressed doubts that its lists even included the weapons the FAES distributed during the years of conflict.5 The recovery of all weapons held by private citizens was delayed by the Legislative Assembly, which was late to pass laws regulating the use and possession of weapons.6

ONUSAL verified that the National Intelligence Department was formally dismantled in November 1993, and the new State Intelligence Agency was created. It was not clear whether the FAES were still engaged in intelligence activities outside those permitted by the Peace Agreements.7

  • 5. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/25812), May 21, 1993.
  • 6. “Further Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/26790), November 23, 1993.
  • 7. United Nations Security Council, (S/26790).
1994

Intermediate Implementation

Following the worst months of post-conflict violence, President Calderon Sol formed a working group and pledged to bring all politically motivated criminal groups to justice.8 The paramilitary groups that endured morphed into criminal gangs, but were still tied to politically-motivated attacks.9

The Law for the Control of Weapons, Munitions, Explosives and Related Artifacts took effect on 11 January 1994, after it was approved by the Legislative Assembly on 9 December 1993. The Government initiated a campaign to recover military weapons from private individuals, but very few were actually relinquished to the FAES.10

The National Police was formally disbanded on 31 December 1994 as per the provisions in the peace accord.11

  • 8. “El Salvador: Calderon Sol promises to eradicate death squads,” Inter-Press Service, April 28, 1994.
  • 9. “Death squads tied to Salvadoran crime,” United Press International, July 28, 1994.
  • 10. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/1994/561), May 11, 1994).
  • 11. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/1995/220), March 24, 1995.
1995

Intermediate Implementation

FAES efforts to collect military weapons held by private citizens remained ineffective. A central issue was the large number of unrecorded weapons in circulation. The Government seized about 2,000 weapons during the first few months of 1995, few of which were given voluntarily. Without clear records, the Government would have to rely on voluntary surrender of the weapons, but without incentives, weapons holders were reluctant to take any initiative to return them.12

  • 12. “Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Observer Mission in El Salvador,” United Nations Security Council (S/1995/220), March 24, 1995.
1996

Intermediate Implementation

Even after the establishment of the National Civil Police, the Government still had some agents acting in a public security capacity outside the formal structure of the National Civil Police. In March 1996, the Government dissolved one such group, the “analysis unit,” but other personnel continued on.13

  • 13. “Mission of the United Nations in El Salvador: Report of the Secretary-General,” United Nations General Assembly (A/50/935), April 23, 1996.
1997

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year.

1998

Intermediate Implementation

High violent crime rates and organized violence remained an issue in post-accord period. Politically mobilized paramilitary groups were either dissolved or disbanded but collecting weapons from civilian population remained a challenging issue. Availability of weapons could also have contributed to increasing rate of organized violence.

1999

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2000

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.

2001

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.