Remembering Victims and Abuses

Using civil lawsuits to seek redress for victims of torture

The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) helps victims of torture by using United States Federal Laws to bring charges against their torturers, regardless of the country in which the torture took place. This tactic shows that redress can be sought against perpetrators of torture. In creating and applying these kinds of laws, governments show a commitment to justice for victims and to exposing those who are guilty of crimes against humanity.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Creating space to legitimize and dignify the personal experiences of victims

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Peru is one of the most recent experiences of transitional justice, institutionalized with the aim of exploring the truth hidden behind a past characterized by massive abuse of human rights. One of the central activities in this process is the Public Audiences, created with the aim of legitimizing and dignifying the personal experiences of the victims in order to support the therapeutic and recuperative work on their behalf.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Activating historic sites as centers for citizen engagement with human rights issues

Around the world, people instinctively turn to places of memory to come to terms with the past and chart a course for the future. Memory is a critical language and terrain of human rights. These places can be a powerful and critical tool for building a lasting culture of human rights. The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience works to build the capacity of historic sites around the world to foster dialogue on pressing social issues and promote democratic and humanitarian values. It seeks to change the role of historic sites in civic life from places of passive learning to centers for active citizen engagement. Using the power of place to help communities have ongoing dialogues about the meaning of their past and the shape of their future.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Coordinating efforts to preserve archival information among several organizations and creating a system for accessing it

Memoria Abierta has created a system to make accessible all public archives of documents, photographs and interviews that testify to the horrors of state terrorism in Argentina, its victims and the people who stood against it. While anyone with Internet access can search the online catalog of the files, the actual materials remain in the offices of each member organization or in Memoria Abierta’s office. The database provides a single index of all materials, easily searchable by any user.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Mobilizing public resources for a socially marginalized group

ICAR’s tactic is part of a strategy to convince the government to take responsibility for the nation’s past in order to build a better future. Many of the torturers from communist-era Romania escaped with impunity and some now occupy influential positions in society. Victims face a society in which substantial forces would prefer to forget the past — and its victims — rather than learn from that past in order to build a deeper civil commitment to democracy and human rights.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Engaging key and respected agents of change in the development and training of a human rights curriculum

In order to create support for such a human rights curriculum that also encompassed religious educational institutions, the National Working Group in Indonesia engaged key and respected leaders–community and religious leaders as well as teachers–in the development and training of the human rights curriculum. By taking the time and effort to engage opinion and religious leaders in the process, the NWG was able to develop their critical support and integrate their needs and concerns in order to overcome barriers and challenges to human rights education.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Using a popular referendum to oppose impunity

The Comisión Nacional Pro-Referéndum (CNR) organized a referendum in Uruguay for the public to vote on the congressional decision to grant impunity to human rights abusers employed by the military.

Nearly every Uruguayan was affected by human rights abuses during the brutal dictatorship from 1973 to 1984. During that time many political dissidents were watched, tortured, and killed. The military and police detained 55,000 people (1 in 50 of the total population) and 300,000 people went into exile either out of fear or because of the rapidly deteriorating economy.

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