Impunity Watch began in 2004 as a project within the Dutch development organisation Solidaridad. It was a response to calls from Guatemalan human rights groups for greater support in identifying the factors preventing their claims for redress after the civil war.
On 28 January 2008, Impunity Watch was registered as an independent Foundation (Stichting) in the Netherlands. Our Research Instrument is at the core of our organisation in order to focus our research and policy advise. The Research Instrument was created by an international group of experts, researchers and activists working in the human rights and transitional justice field and based on the UN Principles for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights through Action to Combat Impunity.
Impunity Watch initially began working in Guatemala and Serbia, with offices in both countries, by applying the Research Instrument to produce a baseline study of impunity in each country in 2008. These studies contained targeted policy recommendations for the respective countries and informed the implementation of a number of activities with local partners, including exchange meetings, local capacity-building, outreach, and lobbying.
Underpinned by the baseline research, our Guatemala programme became well-established and began monitoring the states’ compliance with its international obligations, among other projects with victims’ groups. We currently run our programmes for Latin America from our Guatemala office. We no longer have an office in Serbia, but continue to work in the region.
Following the success of the pilot research cycle in Guatemala and Serbia, a feasibility study was conducted in 2009 that led to Burundi being selected as the location for our work in the Great Lakes Region of Africa. Our Burundi office was established in Bujumbura in 2010.
In addition to our Country Programmes, we conduct research, knowledge sharing and policy and lobby related activities on a number of comparative issues. To date, these issues have included memorialisation, the gender-sensitivity of transitional justice mechanisms, impunity, societal impact and judicial independence and victim participation.
A multi-year comparative programme examining victim participation in transitional justice mechanisms is currently being undertaken. We,ve recently entered a strategic partnership with PAX, Dutch peace organisation, which will enable us to work also in other contexts.
The Observatory of Judicial Independence is a tool to monitor and analyse the internal and external factors that threaten judicial independence in Guatemala.