2002 Press Releases

Press Release

Monday, September 16, 2002


Human Rights Law Clinic Hosts Presentation on El Salvador Torture Case

Contact: Erin Campbell, Communications Dept., 510-643-8010, ecampbell@law.berkeley.edu

What: "Romagoza v Garcia: A Case of Justice for Victims of Torture," an address at the University of California, Berkeley, by an attorney and a plaintiff involved in this landmark U.S. federal court case that attracted national and international attention.

The case's three plaintiffs were represented by a team of attorneys that included Patty Blum, director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic at the UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). Boalt Hall students assisted with the case as well.

When: 6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 17.

Where: Room 110, Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley.

Who: Carlos Mauricio, a former professor at the University of El Salvador, was abducted from his classroom during the war, taken to National Police headquarters and tortured. He fled to the United States in 1983 and is now a permanent U.S. resident. He lives in San Francisco.

Patty Blum, a Boalt Hall law professor, is an expert in international human rights law. She worked on the Romagoza case, as well as on a related case involving the same defendants and their role in the deaths of three American nuns and a lay missionary worker who were tortured and killed while in El Salvador. Their deaths shocked Americans and drew international attention.

Background: A Florida jury decided this summer that two Salvadoran generals should pay $54.6 million to the three individuals who were tortured by the Salvadoran military during the country's civil war. Thousands of civilians were tortured during that war, which lasted from 1980 to 1991. From 1979 to 1983, in particular, the civilian population was subjected to mass state terror perpetrated by the military, according to Blum. The plaintiffs in this case fled to the United States and filed suit against the Salvadoran generals for allowing a climate to exist in which the military could torture and kill unarmed civilians it deemed subversive. The two generals had left El Salvador and were enjoying a comfortable retirement in Florida when they first learned of the lawsuit.