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Prosecuting International Crimes at National Level: Lessons from the Argentine ‘Truth-Finding Trials’

Author:

Elena Maculan

University of Trento, IT
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Abstract

Truth-finding trials (juicios por la verdad) constitute a novel solution devised by the Argentine judicial system to cope with crimes committed by the past military dictatorship. This mechanism uses criminal courts as well as criminal procedure in order to investigate the truth about the dictatorship's crimes; however, the trials allow judges neither to establish criminal responsibility nor to punish the perpetrators of crimes. This limitation is due to the inability, imposed by the Full Stop and Due Obedience Laws, to prosecute the perpetrators of crimes.
From the perspective of criminal law, truth-finding trials present two problematic features: firstly, their creation and regulation are set by judges, which has caused the development of many non-homogeneous local solutions and, secondly, their hybrid nature, which entails a possible subversion of conventional forms and goals in the context of the criminal trial.
The paper also describes the current situation, since the Argentine impunity laws were declared unconstitutional and criminal proceedings reopened. The new framework provokes questions about the relationship between the reopened criminal trials and the truth-finding investigations, not only with regard to evidentiary issues but also with respect to the reason why the truth-finding investigations are still held.
Finally, the shift from a non-punitive approach to the current full criminal accountability seems to suggest that truth-finding trials were merely a temporary solution, while the notion of the full prosecution and punishment of State crimes was never really set aside.

DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ulr.183
How to Cite: Maculan, E., (2012). Prosecuting International Crimes at National Level: Lessons from the Argentine ‘Truth-Finding Trials’. Utrecht Law Review. 8(1), pp.106–121. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18352/ulr.183
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Published on 27 Jan 2012.
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