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Human Rights Speaker Series: Almudena Bernabeu
July 29, 2015 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Is There International Accountability for National Injustice? The Guatemalan Genocide Case
In 1996, a United Nations–sponsored truth commission in Guatemala estimated that more than 200,000 people had been killed during that country’s brutal thirty-six-year civil war, most of the deaths occurring in the short span between 1981 and 1983. More than 80 percent of the victims were indigenous Mayans, whom the Guatemalan army had categorized as “internal enemies,” and the truth commission determined that they had been the target of over 600 deliberate massacres carried out by military forces.
Until recently, no one was held accountable for these crimes. All of this began to change when a group of victims brought charges in the Spanish National Court against José Efraín Ríos Montt, who ruled Guatemala in 1982 and 1983, and is now on trial for genocide and crimes against humanity. This is the first time a former head of state has been prosecuted for genocide in a national, as opposed to an international, court. Almudena Bernabeu, who is serving as the lead private prosecutor on the case, will explain the case’s acute importance as a milestone in holding political and military leaders accountable for international crimes.
About the Speaker
Almudena Bernabeu leads the Latin America Program and the Transitional Justice Program at CJA. She is the lead private prosecutor on two human rights cases before the Spanish National Court: one filed on behalf of survivors of the Guatemalan Genocide and the other brought against senior Salvadoran officials for the massacre of Jesuit priests in 1989. She has received several international awards for her human rights work. Most recently, she was selected one of the top ten female lawyers in Spain.
Stanford Summer Human Rights Program
“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in the spirit of brotherhood.”
—Universal Declaration of Human Rights Adopted by the United Nations in 1948
The Stanford Summer Human Rights Program is an interdisciplinary collaboration that explores emerging issues in human rights through a series of courses, public lectures, and films. In 2015, the program will continue the discussion of international human rights in the 21st century, considering broad perspectives on what constitutes human rights in an increasingly diverse and global society.
The Human Rights Program is sponsored by Stanford Summer Session in collaboration with Stanford Continuing Studies, the Stanford Master of Liberal Arts program, and the United Nations Association Film Festival (UNAFF). For more information on the Continuing Studies companion course, “International Human Rights: Strategy, Struggle, and the Quest for Dignity” with Anupma Kulkarni, please see the course page.