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New Internationalist

Down the dictators

Meet Reed Brody. He hunts dictators for a living. Dictators need to be hunted by full-time professionals. For, as Reed explains: 'If you kill one person, you go to jail. If you kill 40 people, they put you in an insane asylum. But if you kill 40,000 people, you get a comfortable exile with a bank account in another country, and that's what we want to change.'

And the good news is that he and his colleagues at Human Rights Watch are well on the way to making that change. They were there in London when the House of Lords decided that General Augusto Pinochet could be arrested and sent to overseas courts that wanted him to be tried for his crimes against the people of Chile. And although Pinochet - now dead - never faced trial, the knock-on effect since the law lords' decision has been significant. The legal systems of Argentina and Uruguay are paving the way for the arrest and trial of former officials during the 1970s dictatorships that brutally governed their countries. Africa, too, is slowly but surely following suit, with a developing front amongst the African Union to prosecute war criminals on their continent.

With the backdrop of testimonies from people in Latin America and Africa who have been victims of state-sponsored violence, Reed takes us on safari to show how some of the world's worst dictators are being tracked down. From diplomatic negotiations across Europe and Africa down into the former offices of Chad's political police, he explains the barriers to prosecution, how they are being pushed through, and what practical benefit this will hold for the people who have been systemically brutalized by their own governments.

To lift your spirits, the invigorating music that threads its way through today's program comes from those sons of son music, the Cuban band Sierra Maestra, from their Soul of a Nation CD.

Listen online now (click the play button left) or download the program (click this link)

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