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Introduction-Argentina Trial Monitor (ATM) Project Introduction prepared by: Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights-
UNESCO Chair for Genocide Prevention in consultation with Center for the Study of Genocide Studies at the Universidad Tres de Febrero, Argentina
On November 28th 2012, the most significant trial in Argentinian history commenced. Centered on crimes committed at the Navy Mechanics School (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 Argentina. 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.
As part of its on-going research on the Argentina trials, the UNTREF Center will produce Spanish-language background briefs and weekly synopses of the ESMA trials. The Center at Rutgers, in turn, will translate the briefs and post them on the English-language ATM website. In addition, the Rutgers Center will work increase awareness about the trials among English- language scholars and the media. To this end, it will also produce additional policy briefs and trial-related materials. In addition to on-going coverage of the ESMA trial, the ATM project will also seek to compile a resource database on past trials. As such, it will become the English- language website on the trials in Argentina. More broadly, the Argentina Trial Monitor will increase our awareness and understanding of the important trials taking place in Argentina, ones that have contributed greatly to the search for truth and justice in the aftermath of mass violence.
In recent developments on December 19, 2012 the first 16 perpetrators were sentenced to life in prison and most significantly the tribunal stated that genocide was committed with the intention to destroy the Argentine national group. Equally significant, the sexual violence that took place was recognized as a systematic crime against humanity. This decision by some Argentine Tribunals to recognize genocide happened in Argentina will undoubtedly create a critical turning point on a global scale in the struggle against impunity. This decision also marks a watershed moment in the field of genocides studies and prevention.
ESMA-photo courtesy of UNTREF Staff