Universal Jurisdiction in Latin America. Executive Summary and Analysis

August 2023

The Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice of the New York City Bar, through the Lawyers Council for Civil and Economic Rights, presents a comparative analysis of the legal provisions that would allow filing criminal complaints regarding crimes that could be pursued through universal jurisdiction in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay.

The document addresses the impunity that exists in some countries in the region regarding crimes against humanity. Universal jurisdiction ensures that victims of serious crimes obtain justice and reparation, allowing courts from different countries to have jurisdiction over these crimes, even without one of the traditional ties to establish jurisdiction. This provides an opportunity to bring the perpetrators to justice, even if their country of origin is unwilling or unable to conduct the investigation and prosecution, and provides a measure of reparation for victims and their families. At the same time, the use of universal jurisdiction sends a clear message to perpetrators of serious crimes that they cannot evade accountability for their actions, no matter where they are.

This comparative analysis is based on the idea that the effective application of universal jurisdiction strengthens justice at the international level and establishes legal precedents and global norms and standards for the international prosecution of crimes. It also promotes cooperation and information exchange between countries in the fight against impunity and the protection of human rights.

The Executive Summary and the Analysis are available in English below, the full report is only available in Spanish.