Monday, 16 March 2009

Argentina: Children of Disappeared to Sue Banks?

First Chile filed suit against four banks for helping Pinochet hide his illicit fortune. Now, it seems, children of the disappeared in Argentina may follow its example. Pagina/12 is reporting that two 'children' (of course, they are at least thirty by now) from La Plata, Leandro Manuel Ibáñez and María Elena Perdighe, are planning to present a claim against the foreign banks that financed the 1976-83 dictatorship.

Apparently, one of the precedents for such a case is the Nuremberg trials, which ruled against companies which sold the deadly gas to the Nazi regime, used concentration camp labour and so on. The Geneva Convention also allows for sanctions against the accomplices of genocide. Said Perdighe,
"I want to know who gave the money to the Military Junta which was governing a broken country so that they could pay the wages of the murderers of my parents and buy the machines to torture them,"

The Nuremberg court stated that in order for a criminal plan to succeed, it required
"the cooperation of politicians, members of the armed forces, diplomats and businesspeople. They cannot consider themselves innocent if they knew what they were doing,"

Articles in the international press, reports from human rights organisations and the condemnation of the Carter administration will make it hard for the banks to claim they did not know about atrocities in Argentina in the late 1970s.

It remains to be seen what will come of this attempt to achieve justice for the disappeared. I wonder if such efforts would even be made if the actual perpetrators of the torture had been promptly tried and remained behind bars.

Los prestamistos de la muerte (Pagina/12)

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