US kicks out former El Salvador official over human rights violations

US kicks out former El Salvador official over human rights violations
© Getty Images

El Salvador’s former minister of defense was deported from the United States on Friday for his role in a bloody civil war that led to the death of more than 70,000 civilians.

General José Guillermo García-Merino was responsible for a slew of human rights abuses during his time in office from 1979 to 1983, which overlapped with the nation’s 12-year-long civil war. Among the offenses were assisting in torture and extrajudicial killings, the Department of Homeland Security claimed. 

ADVERTISEMENT
García-Merino, 82, was arrested in Florida on Dec. 17, days after an immigration judge upheld a 2014 decision declaring that he could be deported.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “is committed to ensuring that the United States does not become a safe haven for human rights abusers,” said Thomas Homan, the executive associate director of the agency’s Enforcement and Removal Operations, in a statement.

“No matter how long it takes, we will work to bring perpetrators of such acts to justice and to preserve the sanctity of the immigration system," Homan added.

The brutal civil war in El Salvador ravaged the country from 1980 to 1992.