Challenging impunity and securing accountability within the rule of law is one of the kobjectives that cuts across much of the human rights work of HRiP. The cases concerning the prosecution of a judge who refused to apply amnesty laws in Spain, or the pursuit of accountability for torture and rendition, are on-going examples. Other interventions highlighted here have focused specifically on the development and application of accountability norms.
Permissible scope of Amnesty Laws: amicus to the Guatemalan CONSTITUTIONAL Court in the Rios Montt case
HRiP filed an amicus intervention with the Guatemalan constitutional court concerning the legitimate scope of amnesty laws under international law. Former Guatemalan President Gen. Rios Montt and other high level accused had invoked amnesty laws to protect them from responsibility for genocide and crimes against humanity committed during the 1980s. HRiP was legal counsel to the amici in this case, which comprised an eminent group of former judges, prosecutors and experts in international law and practice: Elizabeth Odio Benito (former ICC and ICTY judge), Thomas Buergenthal (former President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights), David M. Crane (former Prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone), Pedro Nikken (former President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights), Patricia M Wald (former ICTY and US Appeals Court judge), and Raul Zaffaroni (judge of the Argentine Supreme Court).
In another case brought against Rios Montt in respect of crimes against humanity and genocide, a Guatemalan criminal court eventually convicted Rios Montt and his Director of Military Intelligence, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, of genocide. The conviction was overturned however and ultimately Montt died without being held to account. Other charges continue to be pursued against other perpetrators. For a personal comment on the importance of the Montt trial, see here.
tHE DUTY TO INVESTIGATE: amicus before the inter-American court in the CARLOS AUGUSTO RODRÍGUEZ VERA Y OTROS V. COLOMBIA (PALACIO DE JUSTICIA)
An amicus brief to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights by Human Rights in Practice addressed the obligation to investigate in the context of events surrounding the siege of the Palacio de Justicia in Colombia in 1985. The court found Colombia responsible for disappearance of persons, the failure to protect and the lack of an effective investigation. These crimes were imprescriptible, and therefore had to be investigated and those responsible held to account. The amicus is available in Spanish and the judgement can be found here.