Between 1976 and 1983, the military dictatorship in Argentina kidnapped, tortured and killed thousands of people. In the early 2000s, many direct perpetrators and high-ranking officials were brought before courts. However, many dictatorship crimes remain unresolved today, especially with respect to cases of corporate involvement in crimes of the military dictatorship. ECCHR has since its establishment been supporting cases examining corporate liability and high-ranking military officials in Argentina.
The proceedings against managers of Mercedes Benz Argentina, sugar company Ledesma and mining company Minera Aguilar SA show that dictatorship crimes always also have an economic dimension. In those cases, company employees supported Argentine security forces in abducting trade unionists and other staff members. These actions likely amounted to aiding and abetting the crimes of the dictatorship in order to further their own business interests.
ECCHR submitted legal briefs in ongoing proceedings against Mercedes Benz, Ledesma and Minera Aguilar arguing that the Argentine government and judiciary are obliged to hold economic actors liable for their role in human rights abuses committed during the military dictatorship.
Alongside these cases, Wolfgang Kaleck, founder and general secretary of ECCHR, has for many years been involved in litigation in the case of German citizen Elisabeth Käsemann. Käsemann, who had been politically active in the opposition to the Argentine military dictatorship, was kidnapped and tortured in 1977. The exact circumstances of her death have never been properly examined.
In the Mercedes Benz case ECCHR is assisting relatives of trade unionists who disappeared from a Mercedes Benz plant in Buenos Aires. A senior manager at the company stands accused of involvement in the disappearances and murders of trade union activists carried out by Argentine security forces.
In 2012, ECCHR submitted a legal brief in the case relating to the unlawful detention and torture of workers of the company Minera Aguilar SA during the Argentine military dictatorship (1976-1983).
In 2011, ECCHR submitted an amicus curiae brief in the criminal investigation examining sugar company Ledesma’s liability for human rights violations during the Argentine military dictatorship.
More than 30,000 people fell victim to the military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983). The victims included around one hundred people with German citizenship or German roots, among them Elisabeth Käsemann.
In October 2010, ECCHR, along with Theo van Boven filed two amicus curiae briefs before Argentinean courts. The briefs support four different cases in the trials regarding sexualviolence in detention centers during the military dictatorship.