SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 9, 2020 —A dedicated human rights advocate and the lead prosecuting attorney for the El Mozote case—in which ex-officers of El Salvador’s military are being prosecuted for the 1981 massacre of more than 1,000 civilians —will be the recipient of the 2020 Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize from Santa Clara University School of Law. The award honors top legal advocates who have used their careers to help alleviate injustice and inequity.
The Alexander Law Prize will be presented to David Morales, lead prosecuting attorney of the El Mozote case and strategic litigation director for the human-rights nonprofit Cristosal. Morales, who was born in San Salvador, El Salvador, has spent more than 25 years as a human rights lawyer, including the last three with Cristosal, the 20-year-old nonprofit that works to advance human rights in Central America through rights-based research, learning, and programming.
Working on the El Mozote case in conjunction with Cristosal and another legal organization, Tutela Legal María Julia Hernández, Morales is representing victims and their families in what many consider to be one of the largest unprosecuted war crimes in the world. The 1981 El Mozote massacre was the largest of more than 200 massacres committed between 1970 and 1991. After the civil war ended in 1993, an amnesty law was passed, protecting the perpetrators and denying justice to the victims. In 2016, the Supreme Court of El Salvador overturned the amnesty law, opening the door for justice and the El Mozote trial of 17 ex-officers of the El Salvador military.
“Settling this historical debt with the victims of the war, we help El Salvador transform structures of oppression and impunity and strengthen access to justice for families affected by violence and human rights violations today,” says Morales.
Through his role with Cristosal, he also works with the Salvadoran government to establish procedures and policies for victims of violence. In addition, he has helped expand Cristosal’s Observatory on Forced Displacement by Violence into Guatemala and Honduras. From 2013 to 2016, Morales served as the Ombudsman for Human Rights in El Salvador, where he worked closely with Cristosal to release the first government report recognizing forced displacement by violence.
“David Morales is a powerful example of the good that one person can do when they harness their passion, skills, experience, and drive to fight for a cause,” said Anna Han, interim dean of Santa Clara Law. “We are delighted to honor him and his tireless work for justice.”
About the Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize
Katharine and George Alexander endowed the Law Prize to be awarded annually. The purpose of the prize is to recognize a person from anywhere around the world who has used his or her skill, knowledge, and abilities in the field of law to correct an injustice in a significant manner. The hope of the donors is that the Prize will not only give the public a higher regard for the legal profession but will also be an inspiration within the legal profession and a recognition of the good work of so many in the law. For more information see law.scu.edu/alexanderprize/
About Santa Clara University School of Law
Santa Clara University School of Law, one of the nation’s most diverse law schools, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. Santa Clara Law offers students an academically rigorous program including certificates in high tech law, international law, public interest and social justice law, and privacy law, as well as numerous graduate and joint degree options. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara Law is nationally distinguished for its faculty engagement, preparation for practice, and top-ranked programs in intellectual property. For more information, see law.scu.edu.
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | firstname.lastname@example.org | 408-554-5121