Argentina is in a race against time to bring to justice members of the former military government who committed crimes during the countries Dirty War years (1976-83).
The advancing age of the perpetrators coupled with lengthy prosecutions that often involved mountains of evidence and multiple testimonies from victims, have made justice an elusive prospect. An estimated 30,000 people were disappeared under the former military dictatorship.
The Kirchner government has been particularly aggressive in speeding up the process.
The quest for justice after atrocities is nothing new. The ICC trials on the genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, and the former Yugoslavia illustrate a desire for justice. Many of the above mentioned societies have used the trials to shine on a light on the nation’s past misdeeds. These trials are a vital step for the youthful democracy.
If Argentina doesn’t complete these trials, they may viewed as suspiciously as Japan, who many still feel have not properly owned up to their role in World War II.
Without these trials, Argentina will appear to be condoning the actions of military dictatorship. A key first step in building democracy in Argentina will be repudiating the actions of a past that most people would like to forget.