Center for Legal and Social Studies
69-year-old Horacio Verbitsky presides over Argentina’s Center for legal and social studies since 2000. He is a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and of the Board of Human Rights Watch/Americas.
Verbitsky is a political columnist with the Argentine newspaper "Página/12", author of twenty books and has been granted the Martín Fierro Award as the best journalistic anchorman in Argentine TV. In its November/December 1995 issue, "Columbia Journalism Review" termed him "Argentina's Mike Wallace, an aggressive, powerful and determined investigative reporter, respected for a consistent string of major stories". The Latin American Studies Association granted him its 1995/96 Media Award "in recognition of a long-term journalistic contribution to analysis and public debate about Latin America" and "outstanding media coverage". The jury commended "his behavior during the military regime from 1976 to 1983, when Verbitsky performed an absolutely essential role investigating humans rights violations" and praised "his investigations on corruption in the Argentine State and on the packing of the Supreme Court". A survey conducted by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation revealed Verbitsky as the ideal journalist to his Argentine colleagues.
His 20 books on political, economic, social, religious and military subjects and on the process of democratization had a strong impact in the public agenda. "Civil society and the military. Secret memories of the transition" is about the trial to former Military Junta Chiefs and Alfonsin's pardon Act; "I steal for the Crown. The forbidden fruits of corruption" and "The packing of the Supreme Court” depicts political corruption in the Argentine government of the 1990’s and its control of the Judiciary. "The Flight, Confessions of a dirty-warrior" contains the chilling confession of a former Argentine Navy officer who threw out 30 people alive from naval planes into the Ocean during the so-called dirty-war. "A world without journalists" summarizes the battle of the Argentine press for freedom of expression. His last six books are a Political History of the Catholic Church in Argentina, and the impact of the religious right in Argentine society along a century.
As president of CELS and former secretary general of the PERIODISTAS Association he got the repealing of the penal type of contempt (desacato), in 1993, and the decriminalization of slander in cases of public interest, in 2010, in both cases litigating through the Inter American System on Human Rights. From 2001 to 2011 he was a member of the Board of the Iberian-American New Journalism Foundation (Fundación Nuevo Periodismo Iberoamericano-FNPI), created by Gabriel García Márquez.
In march 2001 a case brought by CELS jointly with the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, got the declaration as null and void of the pardon laws. This ruling was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 2005 and permitted that today 300 cases are open in Argentine domestic courts and 167 convictions for gross human rights violations of the past dictatorship have been already pronounced.