He doesn't so much lament the U.S. decision as the state of justice in El Salvador:
The tragedy is not that the US courts are now closed to victims of a brutal civil war, torture and death squads in El Salvador. A valid argument can be made that the US courts cannot and should not be the courts of last resort for human rights violations in various parts of the world over the past several decades. The real tragedy is that El Salvador never developed a judicial system of its own which could handle such claims.Then he goes on to note that an amnesty implemented shortly after the Truth Commission report prevented the prosecution of past crimes. True, but that doesn't really excuse or necessarily explain efforts since then to reform the judicial system. Furthermore, an argument can be made that the amnesty was essential for the implementation of other key transitional justice measures in the peace accords, namely the implementation of the recommendations of the Ad-Hoc Commission, which recommended the firing of over a hundred top officers. The U.S. Embassy argued as much at the time (as we know now from cables such as the following one, released under FOIA):
This report—and particularly the unresolved issue of a general amnesty—may complicate President Cristiani’s ongoing effort to effect the removal of the final 15 active duty ESAF officers who were cited by the AHC. These officers are unlikely to step down until the amnesty issue is settled, since there is greater legal and physical protection for them within the militaryI tend to think the Embassy may have been right about this. Unlike many other places in Latin America, in fact, there is very little popular sentiment for reopening the wounds of the past. It's also worth noting that the main political actors essentially agreed, secretly, that an amnesty would be necessary as a part of the process. That's why the only thing the UN Secretary General criticized about the measure at the time was that it wasn't fully discussed before getting rammed through the Legislative Assembly.
Having said this, I'm glad that Tim brings the focus back to the responsibility of El Salvador in moving forward in in the reform of its system of justice.