The Pinochet Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of Human Rights
By Naomi Roht-Arriaza
University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005, 272 pp.
The 1998 arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London on charges of genocide and torture by a Spanish judge revealed a new world of transnational justice. This book, by a University of California law professor, is a moving narrative of the unfolding personal, national, political, and legal dramas that drove this still-unfinished transformation. One story is about Spanish courts' expansive jurisdiction and criminal law that made them unusually suited to claim authority over crimes committed elsewhere. Another is of the gathering appeal of universal jurisdiction, which allows states to assert prosecuting power over crimes that disrupt international rights and peace. In the background are the stories of activists and aggrieved peoples of Chile and Argentina who, brutalized by an era of military rule, sought justice through a national accounting of past violent deeds. In layer upon layer of historical detail, the profound transnational character of this episode emerges. In a historical echo of the trial of Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem, Roht-Arriaza's account of Pinochet in London offers a glimpse of a new and disputed political and legal landscape.