Information on forced recruitment of young males by a guerrilla group called Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) or other rebel groups, and treatment of those forcibly recruited; treatment of suspected rebels by Salvadorean military [SLV2430]

Information on an organization called Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) in El Salvador could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC.

Forced recruitment of youths has been reported on by Americas Watch in its publication The Civilian Toll (Washington: Americas Watch, 1987), pp. 153-154. This document reports the FMLN practices "underage recruitment for armed military duties", using boys as young as 11 years of age as messengers and pathfinders, and reports "boys clearly younger than 15 in FMLN uniforms and with arms in the company of guerrillas". According to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1988, (Washington: U.S. Department of State, 1989), p. 568, the FMLN, throughout 1988, "continued to force civilians, including minors, to serve as porters, spotters and couriers for the guerrilla army". [ "Salvadoran Rebels Step Up War", in The Washington Post, 26 November 1988.]

The Civilian Toll, pages 135-145, reports different cases of intimidation and forced collaboration or recruitment by guerrillas in El Salvador. Other reports indicate rebel forces have demanded civilians "incorporate into the struggle" [ Ibid.] under threat of reprisals. Those who refuse have been reportedly driven out of their land, while those suspected of collaborating with the army have been killed. [ Ibid.] Both parties to the conflict have reportedly stepped up efforts to force civilians to take sides. [ "A dirty war grows dirtier in El Salvador", in The New York Times, 5 March 1989.] This has allegedly resulted in an increase in the number of kidnappings and forced recruitment by the guerrillas. [ "Salvador rebels step up terrorism", in The New York Times, 16 December 1988; "Army dismantles guerrilla camp, defuses mines", 17 November 1988, and "Coprefa on 9-13 Jan actions", 17 January 1989, both in Latin American Daily Report of the given dates.] On November 17, 1988, the FMLN guerrilla organization reportedly announced through their clandestine Radio Venceremos that "civilians living in conflict-ridden zones must heed the instructions issued by the FMLN's local leaders during the Armed Forces' operations". [ "FMLN announces end to truce, warns civilians", in Latin American Daily Report, 18 November 1988, p. 19.]

According to statements given by relatives to a UN Special Representative, on 19 May 1987 five young peasants (age not given) who had collaborated with the FMLN guerrillas by taking food to them under duress, according to some of their relatives were arrested by army units and taken to an outlying shanty town known as Palitos; their bodies, identified by family members, were later found in a pit where they had been buried. At army headquarters, the representative was told the youths were guerrillas who had died in combat. [ Final report to the Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in El Salvador, submitted by Mr. Jose Antonio Pastor Ridruejo, in pursuance of the mandate conferred by commission resolution 1987/51, (United Nations Economic and Social Council: January 29, 1988), p. 4.]

The UN Special Representative also received reports on May 11, 1987, of the FMLN abduction and subsequent murder of four civilians (ages not given) in the town of San Agustin, for refusing to collaborate with the guerrilla forces. [ Ibid., p. 6.] Country Reports, p. 555, states "the guerrillas reportedly perform killings in front of other kidnap victims as a form of intimidation to persuade the captives to be cooperative".

The Inter-Church Committee for Human Rights in Latin America (ICCHRLA) reports in its 1988 Annual report on the human rights situation in El Salvador, (Toronto: ICCHRLA, January 1989), pp. 5-7, cases of civilians allegedly executed by the Armed Forces in 1988, presumably because of their suspected collaboration with guerrillas. The Civilian Toll, pages 194-202, states beatings and death threats are common practice of security forces when interrogating suspected rebels or collaborators.

The IRBDC is unable to provide further corroborating information at this time.