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.