International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Argentina Begins Trials

Argentina is currently undertaking the “largest trials” for 68 officials who committed crimes against humanity during the period of the Dirty War. Juan Mendez, one of the authors of the pieces we read for the Truth Commissions section, and who is now the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, claims that these trials were a necessity for Argentinian society to move forward. In the video it also shows how even though 30 years have passed, the events of that took place in the Dirty War are still on people’s mind and that there remains a demand for justice.

When thinking about the debate regarding justice vs. peace, I find Vinjamuri’s argument about the importance of sequencing in order to achieve a successful transition very compelling. I think there is a general consensus that some kind of accountability is essential to the process, but just how much of it must be compromised and for how long remains an issue of contention. Argentina’s process has taken over 3 decades and its path has been complicated by the passing of several amnesties and by the resurgent threats of social upheaval. In the end however, the amnesties were declared illegal in 2007 allowing for these trials to take place. At the same time, is 30 years too long for victims, survivors, and families to receive truth and reparations? Or should we see this as acceptable as long as justice comes at some point and even if it comes in piecemeal portions? The international community must also consider whether the length of time between the crime and the trials has an effect on decreasing the prevalence of impunity within a society so that it may strengthen the rule of law.

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3 responses to “Argentina Begins Trials

  1. mrivera11 December 5, 2012 at 11:35 pm

    Time is a very important aspect within these cases. Nonetheless, while most societies have undergone transitions into democratic regimes, even then many have opted to undergo a collective amnesia and along with the amnesty laws, stop to talk about the events in the public sphere. As more films and texts are written primarily about the missing children that have begun to question their backgrounds to see if they were part of the abducted children who were then given to families that supported the military regime, the matter remains extremely relevant. Moreover, the marches of “Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo” are still taking place, thus making it a visible theme which cannot be easily ignored as this particular plaza is frequently visited by tourists and thus remains present not only in the mind of Argentines, but also in the international realm.

  2. indraswb December 5, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    Thirty years is a long time but it is better than absolute impunity, especially given that there are several generations presently affected by the Dirty War. These long overdue trials have delayed the pursuit of truth and reparations, but there have been other efforts to remedy the need for reparative justice. In addition to the work of CONADEP, one of the most prominent truth-seeking initiatives has been the Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo whose grassroots efforts led to the founding of the first human rights forensic anthropology team.

    Interestingly enough, in terms of sequencing, Las Abuelas’s investigation into the disappearances of children produced a case which prompted the indictment of former dictator Videla; he was sentenced earlier this year for the robbery of hundreds of babies. Their ongoing investigations may result in piecemeal portions of justice but every bit of justice counts while it is still fresh in the minds of the public.

    http://noticias.terra.com.pe/internacional/latinoamerica/argentina-videla-condenado-a-50-anos-por-robo-de-bebes,56483ce763958310VgnVCM10000098cceb0aRCRD.html

  3. mrmaroon14 December 7, 2012 at 12:23 am

    I don’t believe time is a huge factor at all, especially in the Argentinian case. The terrible events that had taken place there are embedded so deep in the country, that the large amount of time hasn’t healed any wounds. There are significant amounts of citizens in Argentina still affected by the dirty war and because of this; those events are part of their everyday life.

    As far as sequencing, I believe this is one of the most significant views in the peace vs. justice argument. The sequencing of the pursuit of peace and justice is key according to the Human Rights Watch article. Basically, the only way a state can insure justice as well as a segment of peace, is to sequence the pursuits of each respective ideal so that they aren’t being pursued simultaneously. I find this very interesting, and in a situation like Argentina, which has been effected for so long because of past transgressions, I would find it captivating if their conflicts were solved by sequencing the pursuits of both peace and justice in what they see as the correct way.

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