Nov 1, 2005
This article is an ethnographic account of the various stages of a trial of local army collaborators accused of perpetrating massacres of civilians. The defendants were municipal-level paramilitaries; the complainants were survivors, and the prosecution was conducted by the state. International human rights lawyers used evidence from these cases to build a national-level case for the prosecution of the intellectual authors of state violence, but did not provide assistance for the prosecution of the local-level material authors. The case is used to highlight some of the tensions between the interests of communities and the practitioners of international human rights law, in the context of both groups’ efforts to hold a criminal state accountable. The author argues that, in some cases, local-level trials are an essential component to postwar community reconstruction and that these cases should receive support from the international human rights community.