On November 3rd, 2018 Santa Clara University School of Law hosted the first Expert Workshop about “Victims and International Justice”. This expert workshop was organized by The Guernica Group, the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) of the International Criminal Court, SCU’s Center for Global Law and Policy and the Working Group on Transitional Justice of the Latin American Society of International Law.

The workshop brought together a distinguished group of international lawyers, prosecutors, judges and human rights activists who, for the past 20 years, have played a decisive role in the fight for justice on behalf of victims of international crimes and serious human rights violations to discuss the role and participation of victims in different justice mechanisms.

Participating experts included Yassmin Barrios (Guatemala), Carlos Castresana (Spain), Ligia Bolivar (Venezuela), Henry Rivera (Colombia), Alexandra Sandoval (Nicaragua), Naomi Roht-Arriaza (USA), Beth Van Schaack (USA), as well as a delegation from the Trust Fund for Victims, integrated by Motoo Noguchi, Felipe Michelini and Erin Rosenberg, and members of The Guernica Group, Almudena Bernabeu, Toby Cadman and Claudia Josi.

This workshop was aimed at creating an open space to discuss past experiences in International Justice mechanisms of different countries, and jointly reflect on the advances and challenges that they generated. The objective was to exchange the lessons learnt to find, together, tools and avenues to improve victims’ participation in these type of legal procedures.

Throughout the day, participants discussed the importance of and the need for deeper and more professional inclusion and participation of victims’ justice proceedings, and the reflected on different ways how this could be achieved. Aspects discussed included the need for more training, coordination and the professionalization of the representation of victims in domestic, as well as international mechanisms, such as the ICC, as well as the need for a better coordination between investigations into “classical” human rights violations, and investigations on corruption and environmental crimes.

On the evening of the 2nd, some of the experts shared their experiences with the broader Law School and University community. This high level panel included Yassmin Barrios Aguilar (Judge at the Guatemalan Supreme Court, who presided the chamber that convicted Guatemalan Dictator Efraín Ríos Montt of Genocide in 2013), Carlos Castresana (Prosecutor at the Spanish Audiencia Nacional, who let the investigations into the indictment against Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and Head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala), Motoo Noguchi (Chair of the Board of Directors, Trust Fund for Victims; former UN international judge at the Khmer Rouge Trials in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC/UNAKRT), Felipe Michelini (Member of the Board of Directors, Trust Fund for Victims; Honorary Commissioner for the Working Group for Truth and Justice Uruguay), and Almudena Bernabeu (Co-founder and Director of The Guernica Group) and was moderated by Claudia Josi (Adjunct Professor at Santa Clara Law and Senior Associate Member Guernica37).

The participants discussed past experiences in domestic and international justice mechanisms, as the prosecution of heads of state, such as former dictators Pinochet of Chile and Rios Montt of Guatemala. The goal was to explore the role and participation of victims in those types of proceedings, to reflect on the advances made and discuss the pending challenges. Students and faculty appreciated the possibility to engage with such high-level experts and the reception that followed was a wonderful to continue many of the interesting questions.

A full recording of the panel discussion can be found here.

Panelists discuss past justice experiences: From right to left: Felipe Michelini, Almudena Bernabeu, Motoo Noguchi, Claudia Josi.

Almudena Bernabeu and Claudia Josi moderating the expert workshop.

Beth Van Schaak and Carlos Castresana at the expert workshop.

Participants of the expert workshop: From right to left: Yassmin Barrios, Ligia Bolivar, Erin Rosenberg, Felipe Michelini, Alexandra Sandoval, Claudia Josi, Motoo Noguchi, Almudena Bernabeu, Naomi Roth Arriaza, Carlos Castresana, Henry Rivera.