What can victims of human rights violations hope to achieve by demanding the safeguarding of their rights from a government responsible for past abuses and crimes? This Brief presents the experience of victims of arbitrary imprisonment, torture and physical abuse during the repression of a social movement in Oaxaca, Mexico, in 2006. By organising themselves in different ways, these victims mobilised to demand their rights to justice, truth and to a range of reparation measures (‘integral redress’) for the abuses they had suffered. This experience shows that victims can challenge governments to make changes to the structural conditions that enable human rights violations to happen time and again. This Brief begins by explaining the concept of integral redress before describing how victims of repression in Oaxaca were able to learn from experiences of other Latin American countries and develop appropriate proposals for integral redress.
The participation of victims of human rights violations is crucial in the development of new relationships between the state and society.
Victims whose human rights have been violated by government abuses play a unique role in helping to define processes of transitional justice that improve legitimacy and confidence in the governing institution.
Victims are the most legitimate actor to set the terms of appropriate redress measures for individual, family and collective suffering caused by state violence.