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Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Argentina

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 22 March 2006
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2005 - Argentina, 22 March 2006, available at: [accessed 1 June 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Threats against several human rights defenders in Neuquén province1

In a speech to the police in December 2004, Mr. Luis Manganaro, Security and Labour Minister of Neuquén province, qualified workers belonging to labour unions as "irregular troops" and labelled the sectors that were opposed to the provincial government as "delinquents". In particular, Mr. Mariano Mansilla, director of the Neuquén province section of the Committee for Legal Action (Comité de Acción Jurídica – CAJ), was accused of "inciting crime", because he had supported the mobilisation of labour unions. Mr. Manganaro added that Mr. Mansilla should "be put in jail" and that he hoped that Mr. Mansilla would not remain free "much longer". By the end of 2005, Mr. Mariano Mansilla had not received any new threats.

In addition, on 6 March 2005, the wife of a worker at the Zanon company was kidnapped for several hours and brutally tortured. Her kidnappers warned her that their action was a message to "all of the labour union members".

Finally, in March 2005, Mrs. Nara Oses, children's rights ombudswoman, working in particular on a phenomenon called "gatillo facil",2 received several death threats by telephone. The provincial government also tried to dismiss her.

Assassination of Mrs. Alejandra Galicio3

On 7 April 2005, Mrs. Alejandra Galicio, a member of the AIDS and Civil Rights Action Centre (Centro de Acción en SIDA y Derechos Civiles – CASDC) and of the National Coordination in favour of the Rights to Sexual Diversity (Coordinación Nacional por los Derechos de la Diversidad Sexual – CONADISE), was killed by the police in Bahía Blanca, Buenos Aires Province.

By the end of 2005, the perpetrators of his murder had not been identified yet.

Acts of vandalism against SERPAJ headquarters4

The Peace and Justice Service (Servicio de Paz y Justicia – SERPAJ) headquarters in Buenos Aires was burgled on 9 November 2005. Six computers containing important data were stolen, as were documents on the Third People's Summit in Mar del Plata. Two pieces of furniture were also destroyed.

SERPAJ and its chairman, Mr. Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, had played a key role in organising the Anti-Summit to the Summit of the Americas,5 which took place in Mar del Plata from 1 to 5 November 2005 and brought together more than ten thousand people.

SERPAJ lodged a complaint and called for an investigation into these events.

Arbitrary detention of Mrs. "Fernanda"6

On 1 December 2005, Mrs. "Fernanda", a member of the Association of Argentinean Prostitutes (Asociación de Mujeres Meretrices Argentinas), was arrested by the police in Santa Fé. She was detained at the police station overnight, ill-treated, and released the following morning. Mrs. "Fernanda" filed a complaint with the help of her association's lawyer.

Threats against several MEDH members7

On 5 December 2005, the word "rats" and an arrow pointing to the door to their offices were painted on the wall of the lawfirm of Mr. Pablo Gabriel Salinas, Mr. Alfredo Ramón Guevara Escayola, and Mrs. María Angélica Escayola, lawyers for families of the disappeared in the Mendoza province and members of the Ecumenical Movement for Human Rights (Movimiento Ecuménico por los Derechos Humanos – MEDH). On 20 November 2005, similar messages threatening Mr. Alfredo Ramón Guevara had already been painted on the office walls.

Furthermore, on 10 December 2005, Mr. Rodolfo Yanzón, a lawyer and a member of several human rights organisations, including MEDH and the Argentinean League for Human Rights (Liga Argentina de Derechos Humanos – LADH), received a threatening phone call at home.

These events seemed to be a reaction to actions carried out by these lawyers, who are involved in the fight against impunity in Argentina. In particular, they filed an appeal against a decision of the first federal judge of Mendoza, Mr. Walter Bento, who, on 17 November 2005, declared himself incompetent to judge the crimes against humanity committed in the province during the dictatorship.

Mrs. María Angélica Escayola and Messrs. Alfredo Ramón Guevara and Pablo Gabriel Salinas also conducted preliminary investigations into numerous cases and led campaigns on the situation of delinquent minors, massively detained in highly precarious conditions or left to themselves in the streets of Mendoza. They also denounced those violations before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

MEDH members had already been harassed in the past years.

Lack of investigation into the arbitrary arrest of ATE secretary general8

During the night of 4 to 5 July 2004, Mr. Juan Eduardo Riquel, secretary general of the section in Castelli (Chaco province) of the Association of Civil Servants (Asociación de Trabajadores del Estado – ATE), had been arrested in Castelli after having attempted to help members of the Toba community who had been assaulted by the police during a folk festival.

The police had taken Mr. Riquel to the police station without any warrant and beaten him. After having received medical care in a hospital, Mr. Riquel had managed to go home thanks to the assistance of doctors who had not informed the police of his recovery. However, judicial proceedings had been opened against him by the provincial police, who had additionally threatened him during his arrest. On that occasion, police officers, including Corporal Juan Carlos Samaniego, had reproached Mr. Riquel of having filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor.

By the end of 2005, those responsible for the arrest and ill-treatment of Mr. Riquel had not been brought to justice. As for Mr. Riquel, he was still facing charges for "assault and resisting the authority".

1. See Open Letter to the Argentinean authorities, 18 March 2005.

2. Literally, "trigger-happiness", which refers to the quasi-systematic use of firearms by police as a means of repression, particularly of young criminals.

3. See International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), 2005 Summary of the cases on Latin America and the Caribbean, January 2006.

4. See Urgent Appeal ARG 001/1105/OBS 112.

5. Meeting of the Heads of State of the Organization of American States (OAS) Member States.

6. See IGLHRC, 2005 Summary above-mentionned, January 2006.

7. See Urgent Appeals ARG 002/1205/OBS 123 and ARG 003/1205/OBS 125.

8. See Annual Report 2004.

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