Breaking State Impunity to Overcome Mexico’s Security Crisis

Friday, December 5, 2014

Following the recent forced disappearance and massacre of 43 students perpetuated by local authorities and criminal organizations in Guerrero state, Mexican citizens from all walks of life are united in outrage. 

This workshop, organized by Faculty Fellow Guillermo Trejo, will bring together social leaders, practitioners, and academics to discuss whether a truth commission would be viable way out of the country’s ongoing security and human rights crisis. Participants will look at a prior experience with a truth commission in Guerrero and explore how such a commission could help discover the truth about forced disappearances and massacres across Mexico.

Itinerary

9:00 - 9:30am

Opening Remarks

Paolo Carozza, Director, Kellogg Institute for International Studies, University of Notre Dame
Guillermo Trejo, Associate Professor of Political Science and Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow, University of Notre Dame

9:30am – 12:00pm

Panel 1: “Guerrero’s Truth Commission: A Pioneering Experience to Disclose State Repression”

Chair: Jaime Pensado, Carl E. Koch Associate Professor of History and Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow, University of Notre Dame
Nicomedes Fuentes, Member, Guerrero Truth Commission
Pilar Noriega, Member, Guerrero Truth Commission
Fabián Sánchez, LLM Student, Center for Civil and Human Rights, University of Notre Dame

This panel will explore the experience of the Guerrero Truth Commission, which has just presented the results of a three-year investigation of gross human rights violations perpetrated by the Mexican government in a 1970s “dirty war” against rural guerrilla groups and civilians.

The message of the truth commissioner is stark: If the human rights atrocities of the 1970s had been identified and punished, Guerrero would not have experienced the most recent student massacre. Past impunity feeds current impunity, enabling local authorities and their criminal allies to freely assassinate civilians without regard to potential legal consequences. 


12:45 1:00 – 2:45 pm

Panel 2: “Why Countries that Adopt Transitional Justice Mechanisms Experience Lower Levels of Criminal Violence: Evidence from Third Wave Democracies”

Chair: Christine Cervenak, Associate Director, Center for Civil and Human Rights, University of Notre Dame
Juan Albarracín, Kellogg Institute PhD Fellow, Department of Political Science, University of Notre Dame
Lucía Tiscornia, Kellogg Institute PhD Fellow, Department of Political Science, University of Notre Dame
Guillermo Trejo, Associate Professor of Political Science and Kellogg Institute Faculty Fellow, University of Notre Dame

This panel will present research by Guillermo Trejo, Juan Albarracín and Lucía Tiscornia, on homicide rates and criminal violence in 70 countries that have made the transition from authoritarian rule to democracy since 1978. The researchers found that when post-authoritarian elites adopted transitional justice mechanisms—including truth commissions and trials—their countries were significantly less likely to experience major outbreaks of homicides and criminal violence.

The findings substantiate the point the Guerrero truth commissioners made: there is a straight line between past and present impunity and between human rights violations and criminal violence.


3:00 – 5:00 pm

Panel 3: “Why a Truth Commission and the Adoption of Other Transitional Justice Mechanisms Could Help Mexico Confront Its Current Security Crisis”

Chair: Sandra Ley, Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow, University of Notre Dame
Perseo Quiroz, Director, Mexico Office, Amnesty International and University of Notre Dame LLM
Mara Hernández, Professor of Public Policy, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey
Mariclaire Acosta, Director, Freedom House, Mexico and former Kellogg Institute Visiting Fellow

This panel will discuss the need for a truth commission to systematically assess 22,000 cases of disappearances during Mexico’s drug wars, including the case of the 43 missing students. It will also address the need for identifying, naming, and punishing state authorities and members of criminal organizations involved in cases of forced disappearances.

Cosponsored with the Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Mexico Working Group

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