Impunity takes many forms. The passage of time is one thing.
A girl says that she was subjected to sexual violence in the family environment. Mom believes him, Dad doesn’t. The complaint is made and the only thing that happens is time. Two years. Then the accused dies, and justice does what is appropriate in these cases: it orders the criminal action to be extinguished. “When the dog dies, the rabies is over,” goes the saying, and the courts work the same way.
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But not. The rage continues. The pain too. And in this unprecedented case, the trial will also continue: a Mercedes judge granted the girl’s mother’s request that the trial continue as “truth trial”a figure that was first used in crimes against humanity and which began to be extended to cases of sexual violence against children and adolescents.
Right to be heard
Judge Facundo Guillermo Oliva of the Court of Guarantees No. 2 decided to quote a poet: “The road is made by walking,” he wrote in his decision, perhaps due to the lack of other prior facts to rely on. The trial (which continues in the instruction) will have no verdict or defendant.
What is it for then? The magistrate ruled that it was “a matter of strict justice under the best interests of the child”. The psychologist who interviewed the applicant in the framework of the legal process indicated the vital importance for the girl to be heard in a judicial framework, especially given that not all the family accompanied her in the process. It works for the girl.
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“I am very excited and glad that Justice has heard our request. It is very important to my daughter that her truth be heard and that everything she has been through in this process is nothing and she can heal“, assures his mother TN. Neither she nor her daughter have been identified to protect the identity of the minor. Nor the defendant who was his grandmother’s partner.
“This legal milestone is extremely important for survivors of child sexual abuse, as it sets an unprecedented precedent in terms of allowing the trial to continue, even after a criminal case has been dismissed due to the death of the accused, in the search for the truth and in a conviction. which corrects the victims, with social condemnation, given the impossibility of a criminal sentence”, celebrates Valeria Alkain, the lawyer behind this request with very little past.
The state is responsible
The Mercedes debacle has a cue that should serve as a wake-up call. Among the reasons for respecting the request points out “the state’s delay in investigating with due diligence”.
The complaint was filed on February 27, 2020. The death occurred in March of this year. If this decision was not mediated, not only did the girl lose the ability to accuse, but the accused also lost the ability to defend himself. The state will have to decide now how to fix it this circumstance arising from his own delay.
“The times of justice” is a set phrase, a euphemism meaning that we do not know when it will occur. But many times that means it never will be. A person comes to file a complaint and realizes that no, this i’m late. Even though the accused is alive and even though the crime still hurts. What’s more: it’s late, although there may be others at risk.
Patricia Aguirre has 37 yearsyes It wasn’t until July 2019 that he was able to report on events that happened in his childhood. “I spoke up when it became unbearable: I was a mother, I had little cousins that they were in contact with this same person and I felt that in my silence I was an accomplice,” he says now.
The jurisdiction was changed to extend the time the victims needed, but the events that Patricia was convicted of were from 1990 to 1995 and the law that was in place at the time applied to her. Technically nothing could be done. In March of this year, Lomas de Zamora Court of Guarantees Number 8 Judge Gabriel Vitale made progress in accepting the case for a truth-based trial.
“It is very difficult to explain to a victim that nothing can be done. This defies common sense because we know that many times exposure is a process that takes years. It is our duty to seek all possible instances of listen to these recommendations and to be part of the restoration process and its truth to be judicially institutionalized,” the judge replies to TN.
Any change in the law is driven by cases of media coverage. In 2004, a group of former students from San Juan El Precursor School in San Ysidro recorded the artist with a hidden camera. Peter Malencini who had been his teacher and abuser decades earlier. There was no conviction, but they did have a confession that aired on prime time and prevented him from continuing to run private schools.
The families and the school were notified of the events when the men were still children, but no legal action was taken. The scandal that sparked the case came with the first change in the law. In 2011, “law of the square” which extends the deadlines and leads to the expiry of the limitation periods of the complaint. The problem: it only applies to cases before that date.
Complainants. victims. Survivors of sexual abuse
Patricia carefully searches for the words: “Some talk about healing, others about recovery, I prefer to say that I live with what happened to me,” she explains. Those who experienced childhood sexual abuse have long been called out “survivors”.
More than three years after her complaint and after going back and forth in the Cassation, she is waiting for a trial to find out the truth, although the statute of limitations does not leave her without the possibility of being convicted. “I think about this seven-year-old girl and our need to be heard. The Word enables and surpasses. See, even death is superior”Patricia hangs up.
Still silent, there are many survivors who await news of these cases with rapt attention.
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