Pinochet’s Accomplices: perpetration, civilian complicity and individual versus institutional culpability in domestic atrocity crime accountability

Cath Collins, Francisco Ugas, Francisco Bustos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter discusses the potential of domestic courts to comprehensively address the responsibility of direct and indirect perpetrators of grave and systematic human rights violations perpetrated by past authoritarian military regimes. It does so through a participant observation-informed case study of legal pathways employed in Chile to address atrocity crime accountability in domestic courts.
Two themes emerge with particular force: individual versus collective agency in the attribution of responsibility, and consistency of state acknowledgment of responsibility, across institutions and over time. Lines one and two explore how Chile’s courts have understood perpetration, with particular reference to treatment of civilian perpetrators. Taken together, these two lines demonstrate tension between the intrinsically diffuse, systemic nature of mass violations, and traditional criminal liability approaches focused on tangible individual acts. Lines three and four consider legal responses beyond criminal law: civil claims, increasingly resorted to by survivors, and novel types of legal action that aim to address the ongoing duty and responsibility of collective entities, including commercial concerns and state institutions. The chapter argues that beyond their contingent outcomes these novel recourses, unique to the domestic legal sphere, offer particular potential synergy with the truthtelling, reparation, and reform dimensions of transitional justice. The conclusions return to the question of what is or can be distinctive about domestic legal venues as a site of post-atrocity accountability.
Original languageEnglish
Subtitle of host publicationCompromised Identities?
EditorsStephanie Bird, Mary Fulbrook
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781350327788
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 13 Jul 2023


  • perpetrator
  • accomplice
  • civilian
  • accountability
  • Atrocity crimes


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