Sévane Garibian has recently published “Ghosts Also Die. Resisting Disappearance Through the ‘Right to the Truth’ and the Juicios por la verdad in Argentina”, Journal of International Criminal Justice, vol. 12:3, 2014, pp. 515-38.
This paper attempts to provide a more complete understanding of the so-called ‘right to the truth’, deriving from court-made doctrines in the human rights field and associated with an alternative form of legal proceedings in Argentina that has no equivalent anywhere else in the world: the trial for the truth (juicio por la verdad). This is a procedure sui generis created in the aftermath of the military dictatorship in response to both the politics of forgetting that prevailed in the 1990s and the continuing obstruction of criminal proceedings up to 2003 due to amnesty laws. Protecting the right to the truth fulfils three functions in turn: first, it makes possible conciliation of amnesty with the right to judicial protection; second, it constitutes the condition for real access to justice; third, it validates the reality of the crime. Each of these functions is associated with one of the three elements, which, together, comprise the struggle against impunity: investigation, sanction, and reparation. Situated between truth commissions and classic criminal proceedings, symbolic reparation and retribution, the Argentinian trials for the truth offer a new way of conceiving both the criminal-law judge’s mission and the relations among law, truth, history, and memory in the context of the rich debates about (post-)transitional justice.