Persevering While Activating Substantiated Claims to Justice
Since 2017, Guernica 37 has been supporting ethnic and peasant communities in the territories of Northern Cauca, Buenaventura, Montes de María and Putumayo in their persistent quest for truth and justice before the transitional justice mechanisms created by the 2016 Peace Agreement between the government and the FARC guerrillas.
With our support, these communities submitted 11 reports to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP) and the Truth Commission (CEV), recounting the crimes committed in their territories during the armed conflict. Due to their perseverance, three of the four territories where we work have been prioritized by the JEP. Our team continues to support the communities’ active participation in these cases.
Our action in Colombia has also served as the steppingstone towards consolidating the “Guernica Approach” as our methodology, while allowing us to analyse and tackle some of the challenges in justice-seeking processes, including community participation, trust, insecurity, and exploring the meaning of accountability.
Recovering the Basics and Exploring Pathways to Accountability
Guernica is committed to the quest for accountability in Lebanon through the program Imagine Lebanon; an initiative for collective action promoting transparency and accountability through dynamic, systemized, and creative methods.
With a mission to produce actionable knowledge that will substantiate change to imagine and promote responsible power in Lebanon, Imagine Lebanon acknowledges but transcends the crisis and aims to respond to the collective demand for accountability, transparency, responsibility, and ultimately justice.
Led by a Lebanese core team, we are implementing a context-driven and multidisciplinary approach to challenge social injustices and impunity, confront political apathy to foster transparency and accountability, and address Lebanon’s missing history and contexts of denial.
Recording Abuse to Strengthen Accountability Demands by Nicaraguans
We are implementing a documentation and investigation initiative aimed at promoting accountability in Nicaragua. With a sustained team of Nicaraguan civil society organizations and analysts, we have documented illegal detentions, torture, institutional capture and co-optation, police and paramilitary repressive structures and civil protests, all with a cross-cutting gender analysis.
As we continue to document and guard all relevant information, we are exploring available legal recourses in various jurisdictions. We are also actively promoting other avenues to bring Nicaraguan authorities to account for the gross human rights violations that have been committed, including a possible jurisdictional appeal by member states before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the acts of torture by the State against the Nicaraguan people.
HONDURAS Y EL SALVADOR
Understanding the Effect of “Time-Gone-By” on Accountability Claims, and Effectively Adjusting
Working with civil society partners in El Salvador and Honduras, we seek to reframe social demands to the passage of time and current priorities, such as coopted justice systems, gang violence, and abuse of power by the state.
The accountability field requires a critical approach to contexts of postponed justice for human rights violations, such as El Salvador and Honduras. Yesterday’s priorities s cannot be used to confront today’s needs and challenges. This quest must be aware of today’s sociocultural significations of justice for the people that were victimized as well as their societies.
With this in mind, we are expanding a constructive impact in relation to the 2020 conviction in Spain against one of the architects of the 1989 massacre of the Jesuit priests in El Salvador committed by the Army. This conviction demonstrated the centrality of perseverance, effective transnational legal engagement, creative use of evidence, and active representation of victims’ interests to motivate national authorities to pursue accountability. However, the impact of the decision in El Salvador was curtailed by the current climate of authoritarianism.
In Honduras, we are partnering with civil society organizations and universities to address the lapse of time as the current government is engaging in public policies aiming at renewing the quest of justice and accountability.
Recording Abuse to Strengthen Accountability Demands by Nicaraguans
Our work in Mexico confronts organisational wrongdoing and patterns of violence, including international crimes. Through investigation and documentation efforts, we work nationally and internationally on local realities, including Nayarit, Coahuila, and the City of Acapulco.
We are applying the methodology we developed in Colombia to Mexico’s persistent impunity, and exploring to what extent, accountability efforts in Mexico could positively impact other regions, such as Central America.
In Nayarit, we work with Justicia Transicional MX, supporting the Nayarit citizen truth commission. In Acapulco, we work with the Violence and Transitional Justice Lab (V-TJ Lab) at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the Laboratorio de Litigio Estructural to support Familiares de Acapulco en Búsqueda de sus Desaparecidos, a grassroot organization made up of 265 families.
Exploring a New Point of Entry into a Riddled Accountability Quest
We have partnered with the Syria Forum and New Lines Institute to explore how the production and trafficking by the Syrian government and security forces of an amphetamine known as captagon could be addressed from an accountability perspective. Participation in the captagon trade has served to consolidate the authority of the regime and reward the political elite.
After an initial workshop held in Oxford (May 2023), we are exploring connections between criminal activity linked to narcotics in the Middle East and the direct action by the Syrian regime. We are tasked with presenting assessments of legal actions taken against former heads of state and other powerful actors in Latin America for narco-trafficking offenses, providing approaches and mechanisms suitable for the MENA region.
Looking Beyond the Crisis, Promoting the Rule of Law, and Bolstering the Quest for Human Rights Accountability
Since 2017 we have worked closely with Venezuelan partners to maximize the impact of civil society organizations, preparing the ground for a demanding citizenry. As a result, Guernica now sits at the heart of complementary initiatives that promote the Rule of Law while exploring a viable political solution to the situation. We serve as a technical point of reference to key actors engaging in longer-term and evidence-based discussions on the future of Venezuela.
Together with Venezuelan academics and activists, we have documented the killing of thousands of urban youths by security forces and prepare for future accountability efforts. Official data shows that between 2015 and 2018 police and other security forces killed thousands of youths per year in cases labelled as deaths resulting from civilian “resistance to authority.”
We continue to strengthen the demands of the family members of the executed youth and seek to activate their legal status in the national proceedings while continue to leverage the international forums to put pressure on Venezuelan authorities and consideration by the ICC-OTP.
The Spanish accountability initiative seeks to actively liaise with the government and civil society stakeholders in the implementation of the 2022 Law pertaining to Democratic Memory. Though the process has been riddled with political obstacles, some opportunities exist to address denial and contribute to justice for the persons persecuted during the Francisco Franco dictatorship.
Responding to a specific request from the National Directorate of Democratic Memory, Guernica is working in partnership with the University of Deusto to contribute to the design of the Spanish ad hoc truth commission.