The Lehman College Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies is co-sponsoring a special conference, titled “Genocide in Our Hemisphere: Justice and Reconciliation in Guatemala Beyond the Conviction of General Ríos Montt,” at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., on May 29.
Scholars, genocide experts, and massacre survivors will discuss the trial of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Ríos Montt, who was found guilty and sentenced to eighty years in prison on May 10 for orchestrating the genocide of more than 1,700 indigenous Ixil Mayans from 1982-83. Ten days after the verdict and sentence were delivered, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court threw out the conviction based on a technicality.
“The conference gathers experts from around the world to talk about what it means for the future of rule of law in Guatemala,” explains Anthropology Professor Victoria Sanford, director of the Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies. “It’s the first time in history that a credible domestic court holds someone accountable for a genocide committed in the country. It follows a trend of human rights trials in South America. At the conference, we will look at how we can successfully intervene to prevent genocides.”
She says the Center is currently working with Arizona State University—one of the sponsors of the conference—to devise and share ways to educate communities on human rights violations taking place on the local level and around the world. Professor Sanford will serve as a panelist at the conference, discussing the role of the United States in enabling brutal regimes in Guatemala.
The conference is sponsored by the New America Foundation, Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies, Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, and the School of International Relations at the University of St. Andrews.