"It is incredibly encouraging to see a film that accurately depicts so many of the issues involved in securing justice and accountability, whether at a state, regional or international level."
-INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE INSTITUTE
"It is a complex story, elegantly conveyed through the lives of people closely connected to the facts of the case. It is particularly strong in highlighting the strengths - and weaknesses of using courts to redress the massive violations of rights that occur in repressive regimes. The film invites dicsussion at a dozen levels."
-HARVARD LAW SCHOOL HUMAN RIGHTS PROGRAM
"Pellett expertly ties together the volatile political situation in El Salvador, the confounding diplomatic tangle, the novel legal questions, and the human tragedies that are at the center of the story."
In the late 1980s, as civil war broke out in El Salvador, the bodies of four American churchwomen were exhumed from a crude grave in San Salvador, the capital. The women — Ita Ford, Maura Clarke, Dorothy Kazel, and Jean Donovan, — had been abducted, raped and murdered. Bill Ford, brother of Ita Ford, along with other relatives of the women spent 20 years investigating the murders of these women who were doing missionary work in El Salvador at the time of their murders. Initially the investigation led to the trial and conviction of five Salvadoran National Guardsmen. But who was behind the murders? It was clear to Bill Ford that the Guardsmen were only triggermen. With the help of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now called Human Rights First) Ford set out to discover who ordered, paid for, directed and covered up the murders.
By the mid-1990’s with the war over and amnesty declared for all human rights abusers, declassified U.S. government documents revealed that the State Dept. had withheld information pointing to involvement at high levels of the Salvadoran military. The new information allowed Ford and other relatives to bring a civil suit against two senior Salvadoran generals, Jose Guillermo Garcia and Eugenio Vides Casanova, minister of defense and head of the notorious National Guard at the time of the women’s murders. The generals had retired to Florida and now faced the families of the victims in a West Palm Beach courtroom.
JUSTICE AND THE GENERALS offers unique insight into a new chapter in international human rights law, an important step forward in the campaign to bring military commanders to justice for crimes committed within their ranks. It also shows the creative contemporary use of the Alien Torts Claim law which was first used against pirates in the 18th century. This film follows the trial and includes harrowing interviews with several Salvadoran survivors of torture who use the same international and U.S. laws to pursue the same generals in a follow-up trial. Their case – Romagoza vs. Garcia & Vides Casanova is represented by the Center for Justice and Accountability in San Francisco.
There will be a reception outside the Cosford Cinema at 5PM and the film will begin at 6PM. This screening is Free and Open to the Public.
Filmmaker Gail Pellett will be present at the screening.
Directed by Gail Pellett.
USA. 86minutes. 2k Digital Projection.
2002. English and Spanish with English Subtitles.