Seminar-Workshop on the Prevention of Atrocities and Discrimination Against LGBTI Persons held in San José

Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica and the support of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI Peoples of the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) co-organized a seminar-workshop entitled “Strategies Against Discrimination from an Atrocity Prevention Perspective.” The activity involved the participation of 26 representatives from a range of national institutions including the Ministries of Justice, Governance and Police, Public Security, and Foreign Affairs, as well as those from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Judiciary, and Legislative Assembly.

The seminar, which took place on May 8 and 9 in San José, Costa Rica, had four primary objectives. They were: (i) familiarizing participants with the processes that enable genocide and mass atrocities as well as the international standards related to the prevention of these crimes; (ii) familiarizing participants with concepts related to the vulnerability of LGBTI peoples from an atrocity prevention perspective; (iii) equipping participants with the practical and theoretical competencies necessary to identify risk factors of the commission of genocide and mass atrocities and to limit their development through the adoption of prevention measures with a specific emphasis on the fight against discrimination for LGBTI peoples; and (iv) strengthening national capacities and regional impacts through training as well as collaborative work by state officials and representatives of civil society.

The opening ceremony was led by Ambassador Norman Lizano Ortiz of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica ­– and Focal Point of the Latin American Network for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention and Eugenia Carbone, Director of AIPR’s Latin American Program. To begin the seminar, AIPR’s Academic Program Officer for Latin America, Mariana Salazar, delivered a module that introduced attendees to the concepts of genocide and mass atrocities from a prevention-centric perspective. Bruno Garbari, Lead Expert at the Holocaust Museum of Buenos Aires, then presented a case study on the persecution of LGBTI individuals during the Holocaust.

The seminar’s first afternoon session began with a module by Miguel Mesquita, a Specialist with the office of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI Peoples of the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights. Mesquita’s presentation covered the situation of risk and vulnerability of LGBTI individuals in Latin America from a prevention perspective. Following this, Mariana Salazar returned to conclude the day with a module on national and international tools for atrocity prevention within the framework of the Responsibility to Protect. In this sense, the seminar addressed elements of prevention from historical and international perspectives in order to lay the groundwork for a practical, but in-depth, review of the contemporary challenges in Costa Rica.

The second day of the event began with a module by Luis E. Salazar, Presidential Commissioner for LGBTI Affairs. This module covered both advancements and challenges in the protection of LGBTI people in Costa Rica. The seminar-workshop included the attendance of two representatives of Costa Rican civil society.  Geovanna Jimenez Zuñiga, Promoter of Health and Rights with the Center for Research and Promotion for Central America on Human Rights, addressed the preventive roles of security forces and penitentiaries in the protection of LGBTI persons, while Marco Castillo, President of Diversities LGBTIQ+ Costa Rica Diversities, provided an analysis of the current progress and challenges in the areas of marriage equality, education, and health.

The last instructional module of the seminar was led by Mauricio Coitiño, an advisor on public policy, communication, and human rights, who shared perspectives on cultural transformations and challenges related to communicating the situation of LGBTI persons. The working day concluded with an interactive dialogue on conclusions and steps to follow. During this final segment, participants had an opportunity to share possible lines of work and potential interinstitutional actions for the implementation of public policies that include elements of prevention and the protection of human rights.