What penalty exists for desertion from the Salvadoran armed forces - in theory and practice? [SLV3520]

Military service is compulsory for all Salvadorans between the ages of 18 and 30, and there is no provision for conscientious objection or alternative service. [A. Eide and C. Mubanga-Chipoya, United Nations, Conscientious Objection to Military Service, Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, (New York: United Nations Publications, 1985) pp. 23, 26; Blaustein and Flanz, eds., Constitutions of the Countries of the World, (Dobbs Ferry: Oceana Publications Inc., 1984), p. 111 and 153.]

Regarding desertion, in a well-documented article Karen Musalo, an attorney practising in the United States, discusses the penalty for desertion from the Salvadoran armed forces from a theory and practice standpoint, indicating that "... there is a discrepancy between the law and actual practice on the issue of punishment for refusal to serve or desertion. Pursuant to the law, in cases of failure to report, the term of imprisonment is six month to one year in peace time, and one year to three years in time of war. The well-documented reality is that individuals who attempt to refuse recruitment, or who desert subsequent to being inducted, are assumed to be guerrillas, or guerrilla sympathizers, and face a high probability of torture or death." [Karen Musalo, "Conscientious Objection to Military Service Accepted as Valid Basis of Claim to Political Asylum for Salvadoran Men", Immigration Newsletter, Volume 16, No. 3 May-June 1987. p.5.] The source Musalo uses to substantiate her analysis comes from a former Salvadoran Lieutenant Colonel who in a sworn statement indicated that "... a refusal to serve would be interpreted as disloyalty to the government and would result in torture or death." [Ibid, p.7.]