In Vindication of Justiciable Victims' Rights to Truth and Justice for State-Sponsored Crimes

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ABSTRACT

In this Article, Professor Aldana-Pindell explores the norms establishing a state's responsibility to grant victims of human rights violations adequate rights in the criminal prosecution process as a remedy for their victimization. She argues that victim-focused prosecution norms comport and provide more effective means of promoting respect for human rights, in certain nations in democratic transition from mass atrocities. Moreover, she suggests that, as part of other justice reforms, states plagued with impunity should adopt criminal procedures granting surviving human rights victims greater standing in the prosecution process. Professor Aldana-Pindell then uses Guatemala to examine the factors that compel the need for reformed victim's rights in a country whose criminal justice system is wrought with incompetence and corruption.

 
TABLE OF CONTENTS 
 
 I. INTRODUCTION 
II. DEVELOPMENTS IN INTERNATIONAL LAW ON 
    VICTIMS' RIGHTS IN THE CRIMINAL PROCESS 
    A. Prosecutions as an Effective Remedy 
       For Victims of Violent Crimes 
       1. Caselaw Interpreting Comprehensive 
          Human Rights Treaties 
          a. The Human Rights Committee 
          b. The Inter-American Court 
             on Human Rights 
          c. The European Court on 
             Human Rights 
       2. Specialized Treaties or Declarations 
          a. The Basic Principles and 
             Guidelines on the Right 
             to a Remedy and 
             Reparation of Victims of 
             Violations of international 
             Human Rights and 
             Humanitarian Law 
          b. Other U.N. Human 
             Rights Instruments 
    B. Victims' Participatory Rights in the 
       Criminal Process 
       1. The United Nations 
          a. The Declaration of Basic 
             Principles of Justice for 
             Victims of Crime and 
             Abuse of Power 
          b. The Rome Statute and the 
             Rules of Procedure and 
             Evidence of the International 
             Criminal Court 
          c. Other U.N. Human 
             Rights Instruments 
       2. European Nations 
          a. The Council of Europe and 
             the Committee of Ministers 
          b. The European Court on 
             Human Rights 
          c. The European Union 
III. WHY SURVIVING HUMAN RIGHTS VICTIMS' DEMAND 
     PROSECUTIONS AS A REMEDY FOR STATE-SPONSORED 
     CRIMES 
     A. The Right to Truth 
        1. The Substantive Right to Truth 
        2. The Procedural Right to Truth 
     B. The Right to Justice 
        1. Criminal Punishment for 
           Accountability 
        2. Criminal Punishment for 
           Retribution 
        3. Criminal Punishment for Equal 
           Treatment 
IV. THE CASE FOR VICTIM-FOCUSED PROSECUTIONS 
    A. Criminal Punishment to Purge the State 
       of Human Rights Violators 
    B. Criminal Punishment to Legitimate the State 
    C. The Expressive Functions of Punishment 
       1. Criminal Punishment as Moral 
          Educator 
       2. Criminal Punishment as Tamer 
          of Anger 
V. GUATEMALA'S STORY OF IMPUNITY 
   A. Guatemala's Cycle of Violence 
   B. Impunity's Contribution to Guatemala's 
      Violence 
      1. State Corruption 
      2. Toleration for Human Rights 
         Violations 
      3. Vigilante Justice 
VI. CONCLUSION 

I. INTRODUCTION

The prominence of international human rights law emerged as nations encountered, at the end of World War II, one of the worst examples of what Kant deemed "radical evil." (1) Never before World War II had humanity confronted an authoritarian leader who espoused an explicit doctrine of racial superiority to enslave and exterminate millions of Jews, homosexuals, gypsies, and other religious and ethnic minorities. The advent of the Holocaust drove most nations to reconsider state sovereignty claims over the individual rights of its citizens. …