Dr. Ruth Vargas Forman, “The Contribution of Psycho-Forensic Reports at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights”



November 10, 2014
5:30 pmto6:45 pm

Room 230T
HEDCO Education Building
1655 Alder St.
UO campus

This presentation will take place within the context of a class, but is open to all UO students, faculty, staff, and the public.

courtlogo_WEBIn the summer of 2014, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the Chilean State in violation of the rights of eight indigenous citizens who were tried and convicted under an anti-terrorism law. Each was sentenced between 5 and 10 years in prison with charges of arson and attempted arson, events that were classified as terrorist acts, taking place between 2001 and 2002.

Dr. Ruth Vargas Forman, a Chilean doctor in clinical psychology, presented psycho-forensic evidence of the traumatic consequences of state repression and the impact of the application of the “Anti-Terrorist Law” by the Chilean state against indigenous people. Dr. Vargas Forman worked in Chile documenting the consequences of the state violence and imprisonment against the Mapuche leaders and their communities. She presented affidavits at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on behalf of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and for the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), the legal representatives of the indigenous leaders.

The verdict of the Inter-American Court, released on July 30th of 2014, is the first condemnation of the Chilean government regarding discrimination against members of the Mapuche People and this is the first world level precedent regarding the disproportionate application of antiterrorist laws specifically targeting indigenous rights claims.

The psychological evidence submitted in this case had a great impact in the determination of the verdict and on the restitution decision as evidence the ruling of the Court. The application of psychological knowledge in assessing and documenting experiences of ethnic-minorities within the national and international justice systems is especially relevant. Indigenous people around the world are confronting the criminalization of their claims when protecting their rights to their culture and land. This verdict exposes the prejudice by state institutions when the demands for indigenous rights are criminalized with a special law that does not meet the international standards.



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