The Rios Montt Trial: Human Rights Accountability in Guatemala (Washington, D.C., Event)

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.

This is the first time in history that a domestic court has found a former head of state guilty of genocide. The historic decision is 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 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 will discuss how efforts in the domestic criminal justice system and international courts have pressed Guatemala towards greater accountability. Panelists will also explore how these efforts have met with political obstacles in a polarized climate.

The event is sponsored by the Center for Justice and International Law; the International Human Rights Law Clinic at UC Berkeley School of Law; the Myrna Mack Foundation; the Washington Office on Latin America; and the Open Society Foundations.


Panel One—Putting the State on Trial: Guatemala and the Inter-American Human Rights System

  • Wendy Méndez, petitioner, Death Squad Dossier Case (Inter-American Court of Human Rights)
  • Kate Doyle, director of the Evidence Project, National Security Archive
  • Roxanna Altholz, associate director, International Human Rights Law Clinic, UC Berkeley School of Law
  • Viviana Krsticevic, executive director, Center for Justice and International Law

Panel Two—Prosecuting Human Rights Cases: The Rios Montt Trial in Guatemala

  • Helen Mack, president, Myrna Mack Foundation
  • Marcie Mersky, senior staff, International Center for Transitional Justice
  • Emi Maclean, legal officer, Open Society Justice Initiative
  • Jo-Marie Burt, senior fellow, Washington Office on Latin America, director of Latin American Studies, George Mason University

Limited space is available. 

Please RSVP to Olivia Layug at [email protected] or (510) 643-0231.