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ARGENTINA | 12-10-2021 16:28

Argentina's government seeks to speed up trials into crimes against humanity

Human Rights Secretariat to launch strategic plan to accelerate crimes against humanity, aiming for four of five hearings a week. Cases involving elderly victims to be prioritised.

Argentina’s Human Rights Secretariat has launched a new “strategic plan” aimed at speeding up trials judging crimes against humanity dating back to the last military dictatorship (1976-1983), while also planning a new cross-government initiative to reactivate the search for those who identities were stolen by the military junta.

Sources in the Secretariat for Human Rights, headed by Horacio Pietragalla, say it is "crucial” that cases in the courts are sped up, saying they are most interested in accelerating trials that involve elderly victims.

Authorities in the department want to have judges overseeing four or five hearings a week, given that at present they are only reaching one or two. This may not just be down to a lack of interest, the sources said, as there are also a number of court vacancies that are waiting to be filled. In addition, some jurisdictions have more of a backlog than others – the Supreme Court, for example, has more than 50 pending cases involving crimes committed during the military dictatorship before it.

Regarding the government’s strategic plan, the Human Rights Secretariat intends to monitor and denounce judicial delays in order to speed up processes, presenting complaints in order to progress trials quicker. 

In addition, efforts are being made to promote judicial processes linked to corporate responsibility in crimes. Authorities also want a “greater dissemination” of trials and their judgements via the Secretariat's communication channels.

Later this month, the Secretariat will launch a new campaign to “find the missing grandchildren,” a reference to children whose identities were stolen by the military dictatorship, targeting “people who have doubts.”

“Some people come forward [to find out their identity] only once their appropriators are dead, so as not to cause them legal problems," said a government source.

Human rights groups estimate that as many as 500 children were taken by the military junta from their parents during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship. The Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, formed in October 1977, has successfully confirmed the true identity of more than 130 children who were snatched away, given new identities and handed to new families after their parents were killed by security forces.

 

- TIMES/NA [Reporting by Santiago Pérez Chiconi]

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