Justice at any cost

THEY say justice delayed is justice denied. In Argentina’s case, it has been both. The military and police officials of the South American country ran a long and bloody campaign of terror, persecution, killings, kidnappings and rapes against their own people.

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Published: Mon 21 Aug 2006, 8:53 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 4:58 PM

And they managed to evade the famously long arm of the law for nearly three decades, in total defiance of the civilised world and international institutions. They had been protected and pampered by successive regimes.

Many friends and associates of the current President Nestor Kirchner, who was a law student when the Argentine military took power, were abducted and killed by the military and police officials who considered themselves above the law.

And if the victims of that reign of terror or their families have now been offered a ray of hope, it is largely thanks to President Kirchner’s interest and determination in bringing the culprits to justice. Kirchner pushed for scrapping an amnesty law that protected the officials and members of the former military regime.

Last year, the country’s Supreme Court overturned the controversial amnesty law putting some of the most abominable criminals and violators of human rights in the dock.

However, it would be a while before a verdict is finally handed down in many of these cases. Given the fact that many of the accused have either retired or are dead, the prosecution faces an unenviable task of pursuing justice.

But Argentina cannot afford to give up or give in. The very fact that the victims of some of the worst human rights abuses and crimes of the 20th century have gone unpunished all these years should be reason enough to pursue those responsible now.

From the killing fields of Cambodia and Rwanda to the mass graves of the Balkans and Iraq, justice continues to elude hundreds of thousands of victims. But if the civilised world is to prevent such shameful and horrific crimes in the future, it must ensure justice is done to those who have been wronged in the past. Justice must prevail at any cost.

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