Open Society Foundation funded project supporting responses to enforced disappearance in Latin America

Professor Cath Collins' recent work in Latin America.


In early September Professor Cath Collins led an exchange between a delegation of relatives and pro bono human rights lawyers from Chile and their counterparts in Uruguay. The two countries have a legacy of military dictatorship that includes Plan Condor, an active clandestine collaboration between secret police and military intelligence to monitor, assassinate, and “disappear” dissidents in the 1970's and 1980. The exchange led to a commitment to joint work on a legal case involving the disappearance of a married couple in Uruguay and the subsequent abandonment of their infant children, aged two and four, in a public square in the Chilean port city of Valparaiso. During the visit Prof Collins also discussed her ongoing work on models of state response to enforced disappearance with Uruguay’s national Human Rights Institute, which is about to take over responsibility for search and identification. In the days immediately preceding the visit, remains of an as yet unidentified victim of disappearance were unearthed at a military installation.

For an interview (in Spanish) responding to the news of the discovery, see https://pitcnt.uy/novedades/item/3205-coincidencias-macabras-del-accionar-de-militares-chilenos-y-uruguayos-sobre-detenidos-desaparecidos?fbclid=IwAR0kteCpHRuA9fuvTYQRAuXGBC-SFOlgzzIGyOk2yl48tGynZ08oGhIUMTQ

On 9 September Prof Collins hosted a forum on torture prevention in Chile, organised at the Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago de Chile, in association with the National Human Rights Institute, the College of Psychologists, and a local memory site run by survivors and human rights defenders. On 10 September she took part in a seminar organised by a Chilean university on the theme of transitional justice and memory. On 11 September she was invited to meet with representatives of the Supreme Court human rights case office and other national authorities to discuss the importance of production of accurate case monitoring data and information on the effective serving of sentences by perpetrators sentenced in the 426 cases for dictatorship-era disappearance, execution and torture that have been completed in Chile’s domestic court system. At the end of September Prof Collins will lead a mural project, involving relatives and survivors, at Chile’s Victor Jara stadium, named in honour of the legendary singer who was tortured and killed in the stadium in the days following Chile’s 1973 military coup. All the mentioned activities form part of an ongoing Ulster University Open Society Foundation funded project supporting responses to enforced disappearance in Latin America.