Monday, October 20, 2014

Argentina as Model for Human Rights Justice

Kathryn Sikkink is interviewed in the Buenos Aires Herald. She makes the argument that Argentina is really the model for accountability of human rights abuses during dictatorships:

Argentina is currently starting to examine the role played by business leaders during the dictatorship. What do you think about this strategy? 
Argentina is once again on the cutting edge of international justice. Companies are not being investigated. They are probing civilians who were involved in the repression. 
In your book, you say that South Africa analyzed the Argentine experience to prosecute criminals after the apartheid. Aren’t the South African and Argentine models at odds? 
People tend to speak romantically about South Africa, saying that it was a model that led to reconciliation. But if you talk to people from there, they do not believe that their truth commission was exemplary. It was supposed to give amnesty to those providing information and to send to court those who refused to admit the truth. But that didn’t happen. According to our records, only 11 trials were conducted. 
Would it be right to say then that the Argentine strategy to prosecute dictatorship crimes was more successful? 
Yes. The Argentine case is really important because it combines many transitional devices, such as a truth commission, trials, economic compensations, memorials. South Africa lacks of many of them.
One point to make is how--at least in Latin America--the efforts to bring justice are ongoing even though they don't necessarily always make headlines. This is true elsewhere as well. For example, Cristián Labbé, a former Pinochet cabinet member and mayor of Providencia (one of the upscale parts of Santiago), was just arrested.

It is, in effect, permanent, or at least until so much time has passed that all participants are deceased. Think of the continued investigations into the Holocaust, where you see 93 year olds arrested for crimes committed seven decades prior.


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