Examining Human Rights Violations
In The Judge and the General, Chilean judge Juan Guzmán, a former Pinochet supporter, was assigned the first criminal cases against the country's ex-dictator. His examination tells a cautionary tale about violating human rights in the name of "higher ideals."
What can you do to be more aware of human rights violations around the world?
- Hold a forum that examines U.S. policy in Latin America, past and present. Include a history of U.S. military and political involvement as well as the results of prosecutions for charges of corruption and human rights violations against leaders whom the United States has supported and opposed.
- Augusto Pinochet's case set a precedent for "Universal Jurisdiction." Convene a mock World Court to try Pinochet for human rights violations. Include a discussion of who else should be brought to trial (if not by name, then by position). What do you learn from the trial that might be instructive in holding accountable officials in other countries where human rights violations have occurred?
- Investigate a current situation in which human rights violations are occurring and commit to taking action that could help stop the abuses. If you need help identifying where abuses are occurring and how to take action, check the websites of human rights organizations (see the "Resources" section for suggestions).
Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.
This lesson plan is designed to be used with the film, The Judge and the General, the story of the criminal investigation of General Augusto Pinochet, a dictator who ran a military regime in Chile for 17 years. The film features Judge Juan Guzmán, who led the investigation. During the Pinochet years, Judge Guzmán was unaware of the widespread human rights violations systematically being carried out in his country. Classrooms can use this lesson to learn more about Chilean history, human rights abuses worldwide and what can be done to help stop the abuses.
This multimedia resource list, compiled by Paul A. Bareño of the San Diego Public Library, provides a range of perspectives on the issues raised by the P.O.V. documentary The Judge and the General and recommended books and magazine articles about Pinochet.