The Rios Montt Trial: Human Rights Accountability in Guatemala

On May 10, 2013, a Guatemalan court convicted former military dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt of genocide and crimes against humanity for the massacre, torture, rape, and forced displacement of indigenous villagers in the early 1980s. On May 20, the ruling was overturned by Guatemala’s constitutional court, plunging the case into a state of legal limbo.

The May 10 verdict was the first time in history that a domestic court found a former head of state guilty of genocide. The historic decision was the result of decades-long efforts by victims and advocacy groups to hold accountable those responsible for atrocities committed during Guatemala’s civil war. The legal challenges are ongoing.

The quest for justice has also taken victims to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which has repeatedly held that Guatemalan security forces committed massacres, disappearances, killings, and torture. The Inter-American Court has ordered Guatemala to fully investigate and prosecute perpetrators of human rights violations committed during the conflict.

At this event, panelists discuss how efforts in the domestic criminal justice system and international courts have pressed Guatemala towards greater accountability. Panelists also explore how these efforts have met with political obstacles in a polarized climate.

Date: May 22, 2013
Time: 12:151:45 p.m.