Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Argentine Dictator Faces Justice: The End of Impunity

A former Argentine dictator and five others are now facing trial in Argentina for human rights abuses committed during the country's Dirty War (1976-83) (click here to read the story: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/11/02/argentina.rights.trial/index.html)
The beginning of this human rights trial signals a shift in Argentine policy toward addressing past abuses. It has been 25 years since the right-wing dictatorship, during which thousands were tortured, murdered, or simply disappeared, crumbled. Yet, it is only now that some of those most responsible for such offenses are facing justice. The shift from impunity toward the reassertion of the rule of law and the imposition of appropriate punishment for those committing heinous human rights abuses has slowly taken place in Argentina. Other Latin American countries have similarly moved toward ending impunity. Chile has struggled with the decision to subject former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, to some form of prosecution, and has held him on a form of house arrest for the last decade. Uruguay and Paraguay have instituted commissions to deal with past human rights abuses. Elsewhere in the world, rogue leaders are facing justice. The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia is a hybrid ad hoc tribunal, set up to prosecute high level officials of the Khmer Rouge regime, and the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia is currently prosecuting Radovan Karadzic, a former Bosnian Serb leader responsible for atrocities such as the Srebrenica massacre in 1995. International criminal law has become a hot body of law, embracing the concept of individual responsibility for human rights abuses. Argentina has finally confirmed that it respects international criminal law and that its commitment to human rights is firm in the 21st century.

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