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POLICY BRIEF : Investigating Crimes against Humanity in South America Present and Future Challenges

11.02.2019

Author : Francesca Lessa, Latin American Centre, OSGA, University of Oxford

Three decades after the return of democracy, responding to the crimes of the recent past remains a largely unresolved matter in South America. This policy brief is based on a long-term study, begun in 2015, of accountability policies in this region. It also draws upon the discussion and knowledge exchange held during the workshop “Investigating Crimes against Humanity in South America: Present and Future Challenges,” organised in Buenos Aires in May 2018, which brought together over 100 experts, lawyers, public prosecutors, and human rights activists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. The brief summarises the main challenges and difficulties associated with investigating crimes against humanity in South America. Furthermore, it identifies five short-term priorities that should guide investigations in the near future:

1 Investigating crimes against humanity must be a public policy, fully undertaken and endorsed by the three branches of government;

2 Crimes against humanity should not be examined as isolated incidents but, rather, as patterns of atrocities that were systematic and state-sponsored;

3 Investigations should also encompass sexual crimes and crimes committed by civilians;

4 States must enact comprehensive policies to locate and identify victims of enforced disappearances;

5 States should ensure complete access to archives relating to human rights repression for judicial and reparations purposes.

The Policy Brief is available here.