Friday, October 19, 2007

Another Human Rights Trial in Argentina

In the wake of the von Wernick guilty sentence last week, Argentina has begun its trial against Héctor Febres, a former military officer charged with the kidnapping and torture of four people during the "Dirty War". In the wake of the Wernick trial, and even the U.S.'s deportation of Ernesto Guillermo Barreiro, another participant in the Dirty War, in April, this is ntohing but good news. Obviously, when twenty-four years have passed since the end of a state that killed as many as almost 30,000 of its own people in a 7-year period, you will not be able to charge and convict everybody involved, simply because many of the participants have died without seeing justice (and even former president Jorge Videla only remains under house arrest after his life-sentence was pardoned by Carlos Menem, a pardon that has since been struck down but led to little in the way of justice). Still, the fact that Argentina continues to go after those who were involved sets an important standard, letting militaries in Argentina (and perhaps elsewhere in the world) know that impunity is no longer a guarantee for human rights violators, be it low-ranking officers or former presidents.