Strategic Litigation

Our legal action focuses on strategic litigation that will directly impact the rights of excluded and invisible groups in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.  Cristosal provides legal assistance and support to victims of forced displacement and people who have been deported who have needs for protection. We support the LGBTIQ+ community by bringing legal action in cases of hate crimes, we seek legal recourse for the improved conditions and treatment of incarcerated people as well as those who have been victimized by police brutality or other abuse of authority. We provide legal support to the victims of crimes against humanity in ongoing proceedings.

Areas of work

Social Inclusion

Our team works to bring to light the violations of the rights of the LGBTIQ+ population and the different kinds of violence they face. We do this by looking closely at the realities and critical factors

Rule of law and security

We monitor the respect for the rule of law and engage in litigation to seek redress for people affected by state violence and to counter grave human rights abuses that affect the rule of law.

Transitional justice

We litigate cases of human rights violations during the armed conflict in El Salvador to promote and influence respect for the right to justice, truth, and reparations for victims of war crimes. We currently support the prosecution of the Massacre of El Mozote and surrounding sites which occurred 1981, one of the most serious war crimes in the world, and the Massacre of El Calabozo which occurred in 1982.

Anti-corruption and justice

Cristosal identifies corruption as a systemic problem that affects and limits respect for the human rights in all three countries where weak government institutions have been unsuccessful in combatting this problem. We are developing initiatives to strengthen the capacity of citizens to fight back against corruption and impunity.

Why it matters

Victims of violence and human rights violations in the countries of northern Central America have serious difficulties in accessing justice. On the one hand, judicial systems do not ensure dignified and respectful treatment or adequate information for victims. On the other hand, they are also inefficient in meeting the obligations of investigation, prosecution, and reparation.

Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, although they have had very high rates of homicides and violence against children and women in recent decades, have a low percentage of cases that reach a conviction the judicial system. 

This cycle of violence and impunity has deep roots in the history of the region. For example, after El Salvador’s 12-year civil war in the 1980s, a general amnesty law was passed that protected perpetrators of war crimes. This law embodies a widespread attitude that crimes will not be punished and victims do not matter.

Success in strategic and emblematic cases helps restore credibility to today’s Salvadoran justice system. It can send a powerful message about truth and justice across the continent.

Transitional justice

Cases: El Mozote massacre and surrounding sites and El Calabozo massacre