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Atrocity crimes in Latin America: how survivors have used U.S. civil litigation and the Inter-Americ

January 24, 2020 - 12:30pm to 1:20pm
Bolivar House, 582 Alvarado Row, Stanford, CA


Talk Title: Atrocity crimes in Latin America: how survivors have used U.S. civil litigation and the Inter-American System to complement national accountability efforts

This talk will discuss the work of the Center for Justice and Accountability litigating civil human rights cases in U.S. federal courts, primarily under the Torture Victim Protection Act, against U.S.-based perpetrators for atrocity crimes perpetrated abroad.  Focusing on the work of CJA with Latin American clients, this talk will discuss the opportunities and shortcomings of using U.S. courts and the Inter-American system to advance accountability efforts for grave human rights violations committed abroad. The talk will consider how a combination of US-based litigation, local advocacy and inter-American system engagement can push anti-impunity efforts forward despite considerable political and institutional obstacles. It will also discuss how anti-impunity efforts and victories have begun to face dangerous backsliding, what this means for rule of law, and how advocates are working to counter this trend through cross-border collaborations.

Claret Vargas, is a Senior Staff Attorney at the Center for Justice and Accountability, a San Francisco-based human rights organization focused on accountability for atrocity crimes through litigation, strong partnerships with local actors, and advocacy in national and international forums.  She previously served as Research Director at MSI Integrity, researching global governance and business and human rights, and as Director of Internationalization at Dejusticia (Colombia) where she focused on business and human rights. She also served as Executive Director of the Human Rights Center at Stanford Law School, where she taught courses on the Inter-American System and human rights practice. She is an expert on the Inter-American Human Rights System and is co-author of the first law school casebook in English on the subject.  Her research and advocacy include forced displacement in the Americas, the Inter-American System, the palm oil and coal industries, and the victim-focused design of effective mechanisms for the protection of human rights.  Dr. Vargas has experience in Alien Tort Statute and Torture Victim Protection Act litigation and in class action litigation on behalf of workers. She graduated with a B.A. in Social Studies from Harvard University. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Latin American and Brazilian Literatures from Harvard University, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.


Event Sponsor: 
Center for Latin American Studies
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