Argentina: Concerns about the growing deterioration of human rights

Press release
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FIDH and its member organisations in Argentina, the CAJ and the LADH, have expressed a number of concerns about the recent deterioration of the human rights situation in Argentina, relative to the declaration of a state of emergency, the criminalisation and repression of social protest, and the weakening of public policy in the areas of memory, truth and justice for crimes of the past. On 19 January 2016, the government decreed a state of emergency throughout the country for one year, which can be extended, for the purpose of fighting against organised crime, especially drug trafficking. In this framework, the government is taking decisions by decree without democratic control and with the risk of violating fundamental rights of the Argentinian people.

“Governing by decree under a state of emergency is a sad memory for Argentinians and recalls the dark years of the dictatorship when decrees were used with the excuse of ‘security’ to violate fundamental rights, resulting in thousands of people killed and missing””

, our organisations stated.

Our organisations denounce the procedure used by the Argentine president to appoint two judges to the Supreme Court of Justice by decree, which failed to recognise constitutional democratic principles, such as the balance of power and the independence and impartiality of the judicial branch. We likewise denounce the revision of the Media Act by decree, which allows the biggest conglomerates to take over a large number of television networks and newspaper chains with the risk of violating the freedom and plurality of information.

Our organisations also condemn public statements made by high-level officials aimed at minimising crimes of the past, or calling for the release of military personnel and civilians accused of crimes of lèse humanité during the dictatorship. Such statements were echoed in the newspaper La Nación last December, which undermines many of the advances in the area of memory, truth and justice achieved through the democratic mobilisation of Argentine civil society.

“One month away from the 40th anniversary of the coup d’état in Argentina, it is paramount to sustain and reinforce the achievements of the struggle against impunity and the acknowledgment of serious violations of human rights and the consolidation of the rule of law””

, our organizations pointed out.

Similarly, our organisations denounce the criminalisation and repression of social protest. These phenomena are reflected particularly in the arrest of the well-known social leader and member of Parliament for Mercosur, Ms Milagro Sala, on 15 January for organising peaceful protests in the city of San Salvador in JuJuy province. She is accused of “instigation to commit crimes and turmoil” and “sedition”.

Another example is the repressive response by the security forces to the strike by workers of the poultry company Cresta Roja, who were demonstrating in protest of the dismissal of 5000 people. The demonstrators were shot in sensitive body parts with rubber bullets by the Gendarmería Nacional (military police). Another sad example of repression is the use of rubber bullets by the military police in a district (Villa 1114) against a group of children aged 7-14 years who were preparing carnival celebrations.

These acts demonstrate the gravity of the recent government decision to implement a “protocol for police action during public demonstrations”, which authorises the armed forces to use firearms against demonstrators.

Our organisations remind the Argentinian authorities that the right to security must be guaranteed with absolute respect for fundamental rights, especially the freedoms of assembly, association and speech throughout the nation as contained in the international human rights treaties ratified by the country. Furthermore, our organisations stress the importance of the duty of memory and justice for the crimes of the past as an essential basis for a constitutional state that respects human rights.

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