On September 2003 the Argentinian National Congress declared that impunity laws 23.492 and 23.521 were “absolutely void” and, in the same session of Congress, elevated to the rank of constitutional guarantee the Convention on Imprescriptibility of Crimes of War and Crimes Against Humanity. Since then, more than a hundred sentences have been announced, some of them recognizing the reality of genocide in Argentina. This means not only that justice has been obtained but also that a favourable situation has arisen for victims as well as their relatives and friends who have found a place to tell their experience and contribute to the fight against impunity.
The Argentina Trial Monitor believes it is key to participate in this process so as to record the historical moment and reflect upon what happens during the trial and upon what victims as well as perpetrators have to say. The trials are the result of years of struggle by human right organizations and other groups within the Argentine society, and they enable a productive debate over the consequences of state terror and its effects on Argentinian society’s current and future practices. We stress the importance of understanding and framing this violence as a genocide in order to highlight and better deal with the aftermath of state terror.
On November 28th 2012, the most significant trial in Argentinian history commenced. Centred on crimes committed at the Superior School of Mechanics of the Navy (ESMA) from 1976 to 1983, a period during which approximately 30,000 people were killed in Argentina, the trial will involve 88 defendants and 800 victims. It will be the largest trial to date in Argentina. Despite the importance of this and other trials in Argentina that have been held since the Argentine Supreme Court declared the impunity laws and amnesties unconstitutional in 2005, there is little English language information about the trials taking place in this country. The Argentina Trial Monitor (ATM) project seeks to address this situation.
The Argentina Trial Monitor will be jointly run by the Center for Genocide Studies at the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero(UNTREF) in Argentina and the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights-UNESCO Chair for Genocide Prevention at Rutgers University in the United States, with the assistance of some Argentine human rights organizations such as Asociación de Ex Detenidos Desaparecidos and Comisión de Familiares de Campo de Mayo and Casapueblos and affiliated Rutgers partners, including the Translation and Interpreting Program in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.