Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional · Center for Justice and International Law · Centro pela Justiça e o Direito Internacional · Centre pour la Justice et le Droit International · Pemonton Kowantok Wacüpe Yuwanin Pataset

Imputed in the Molina Theissen process
Imputed in the Molina Theissen process
Massacre of the two R's, Guatemala
Massacre of the two R's, Guatemala

One of our historic institutional objectives includes the eradication of impunity and dismantling of mechanisms used by individuals, governments and special interest groups to sidestep any sort of accountability for their role in serious human rights violations.

Through the years, we´ve worked towards these goals by shedding light on cases which had been kept in the dark for decades; working hand in hand with national judicial systems to give back a sense of justice to local courts; giving a voice to all those individuals and institutions who were silenced by their governments; and putting an end to amnesties that undermined the right to truth, justice and reparation.

Enforced disappearance of members of the "Guerrilha do Araguaia", Brazil
Enforced disappearance of members of the "Guerrilha do Araguaia", Brazil

CEJIL has worked to fulfill this right from two angles:

First, CEJIL has promoted the recognition of the right to the truth as autonomous. The IACHR argued that the truth was revealed by means of a judicial process or, in other words, through a criminal investigation. However, we argue that the judicial process is only one aspect of the right to the truth. The right itself is an autonomous right since the State can carry out other actions, besides the judicial process, to help reveal the truth. Later, in the case of Araguaia vs Brazil, the IACHR issued an unprecedented ruling in which it recognized the right to the truth is autonomous. This forces the State not only to investigate and prosecute those responsible, but also to find the bodies of missing persons and guarantee survivors access to all relevant archives that could contain important information about their loved ones.

Second, a major component of our work has been to guarantee the right to truth, not just for victims of human rights violations, but also for society at large. On this front, CEJIL’s work with victims is a pillar in ensuring that the right to truth is widely recognized as an inherent part of international law.

#ElMozoteResiste La impunidad se prolonga obstaculizando la búsqueda de la verdad y la justicia. Tras 6 años de la sentencia de la Corte IDH, conozca las deudas que el Estado de #ElSalvador aún tiene con El Mozote.

Gepostet von Center for Justice and International Law-CEJIL am Freitag, 26. Oktober 2018

One of the key areas in our fight against impunity included pursuing cases that sought to limit the application of amnesties for crimes against humanity and serious violations of human rights. Thanks to the work of CEJIL, important steps were made towards justice, not only to eliminate amnesty laws but also to identify, judge and punish those responsible for those crimes.

The case of Barrios Altos resulted in a landmark decision that led to the extradition, trial and conviction of Alberto Fujimori. Moreover, the ruling established an important precedent in international law which states that amnesties cannot pardon serious human rights violations to the detriment of the rights of the victims and society, in their pursuit for the right to the truth, justice, and reparation.

#ElMozoteResiste Las masacres de El Mozote son el asesinato masivo más grande registrado en América Latina. A casi 6 años de la sentencia de la Corte IDH, los y las protagonistas de una lucha incansable cuentan qué representa el caso de El Mozote y lugares aledaños para alcanzar justicia en #ElSalvador.

Gepostet von Center for Justice and International Law-CEJIL am Dienstag, 23. Oktober 2018

This case, as well as La Cantuta, are among the most cited cases in international and comparative law. Furthermore, their impact in neighboring countries is also evident. CEJIL, for example, accompanied the victims of the El Mozote Massacre and neighboring communities in the litigation before the Inter-American System, getting the Inter American Court to establish that the 1993 amnesty law in El Salvador could not be an obstacle to the investigation of these crimes. Recently, in 2016, the Constitutional Court of this country resolved to declare the Amnesty Law unconstitutional based on the ruling by the Inter-American Court, among other resolutions.

The case of Gelman v. Uruguay further underscored the incompatibility of amnesty laws with a States’ international obligation to duly investigate and punish those responsible for serious human rights violations, as they violated a victim’s right to truth. The Inter-American Court found these laws were illegal regardless of their form, or whether they had been adopted through a democratic process supported by the votes of citizens. In particular, the Court clearly established that “the protection of human rights constitutes an insurmountable limit to the rule of the majority, in other words, to the sphere of the susceptible to be decided by the majority”.

Emma Molina Theissen exige justicia

#Guatemala Emma Molina Theissen fue secuestrada y torturada por las Fuerzas Armadas cuando tenía 21 años. Huyó y, en venganza, su hermano de 14 años fue desaparecido. ¿Dónde está Marco Antonio? es la pregunta que aún no se resuelve. Hoy exige justicia para ella y las miles de víctimas del Conflicto Armado #JusticiaParaMarcoAntonio #JusticiaMolinaTheissen

Gepostet von Center for Justice and International Law-CEJIL am Dienstag, 13. März 2018

Along with the countless acts of violence which took place in States across the region, authoritarian regimes also used enforced disappearances as a tool of repression.

Marco Antonio Molina, Guatemala
Marco Antonio Molina, Guatemala

For two decades, this method was used in El Salvador, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Honduras, Bolivia, Haiti and Mexico. Amnesty International, FEDEFAM and other human rights organizations claim that, in just twenty years (1966-1986), ninety thousand people were victims of this atrocious practice throughout Latin America.

CEJIL has worked to expose similar practices, and to eliminate all traces of impunity. This work has prompted changes in numerous occasions. For example, as a result of the Heliodoro Portugal case in Panama, the country was able to modify the definition of the crime of enforced disappearance. In Peru, the Inter-American Court found the State responsible for the disappearance of Kenneth Ney Anzualdo. And in Guatemala, in the case of the forced disappearance of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen, four of the five high-ranking military accused of participating in crimes against humanity were found guilty.


Kenneth Ney Anzualdo, Perú
Kenneth Ney Anzualdo, Perú
Heliodoro Portugal, Panamá
Heliodoro Portugal, Panamá



Another objective of our work is to highlight some of the patterns of violence and impunity faced by specific groups, underscoring their particular vulnerabilities. For example, the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war or as a method of torture. This can be seen in the work we recently did in the Favela Nova Brasilia case.

Chacina Nova Brasilia Project Website
Chacina Nova Brasilia Project Website

An additional example includes the Mamérita Mestanza case, which involved the forced sterilization of an indigenous woman in Peru; Similarly, Valentina and Inés, indigenous women that experienced sexual violence at the hands of the military, achieved important reparation measures to address this type of violence with a gender and intercultural approach; finally the case of peasant groups in Paraguay and the violence to which they are subjected (see publications), which we took to the Inter-American System.

To the same effect, we have also worked for the rights of children and adolescents, against specific violations of their rights in a perversely labeled “social cleansing campaign” to eliminate homeless children. For example, litigating the case of Niños de la Calle vs. Guatemala, in which the right to life received a broader interpretation for the first time ever (see publications), or the case Servellón García et al. against Honduras, which involved adolescents and young people.

Please, support our work and help make human rights a reality for all across the Americas.

Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional · Center for Justice and International Law · Centro pela Justiça e o Direito Internacional · Centre pour la Justice et le Droit International · Pemonton Kowantok Wacüpe Yuwanin Pataset