Argentina: Procedures followed by the authorities in cases of desertion by members of the armed forces; whether there is any limit on the length of time a deserter is pursued by the authorities; whether deserters are actively sought by the authorities; penalties that could be imposed on individuals found guilty of desertion (January-June 2001)
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||27 June 2001|
|Citation / Document Symbol||ARG37396.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Argentina: Procedures followed by the authorities in cases of desertion by members of the armed forces; whether there is any limit on the length of time a deserter is pursued by the authorities; whether deserters are actively sought by the authorities; penalties that could be imposed on individuals found guilty of desertion (January-June 2001), 27 June 2001, ARG37396.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4be0d15.html [accessed 19 May 2013]|
According to an official of the Office of the Defence Attaché of Argentina in Ottawa, when military authorities become aware that a member of the armed forces has deserted, the matter is referred to the Argentinean Federal Police (Policía Federal Argentina, PFA), which has responsibility for locating such individuals and executing their arrest (19 June 2001). The official indicated that the PFA has responsibility in this area because desertion is deemed a "federal" crime, and Argentina lacks a military police force (ibid.). When the PFA arrests a suspected deserter, the individual is brought before a federal civilian judge, who in turn refers the case to a military court for prosecution (ibid.).
The official further stated that deserters are "actively" sought by the police for a period of six months, at which time the case is archived (ibid.). However, according to the official, such individuals remain liable for arrest, and there have been instances in which deserters were detained after spending two to three years at large (ibid.). It should be noted that all those sought for desertion or evasion of military service prior to 1995 were amnestied when Law No. 24.429 on Voluntary Military Service (Ley No. 24.429 sobre el Servicio Militar Voluntario) was approved (CONCODOC 14 Apr. 1998).
The official of the Office of the Defence Attaché also indicated that the degree to which deserters are actively sought by the authorities is dependent upon the individual circumstances of each case. No additional information on this issue could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
Under the terms of the Code of Military Justice (Código de Justicia Militar), the following penalties could be imposed on non-commissioned officers and soldiers found guilty of desertion or attempted desertion:
Article 718. In all cases of desertion, the sentence will rule that the deserter loses all claims against the State as a member of the armed forces. Non-commissioned officers, men and volunteers will be dismissed from the force, unless they have not served out their full term, in which case they must complete it as soldiers.
Article 719. Simple desertion is defined as not involving any of the circumstances listed in the following article. In the first instance of simple desertion, the deserter who reports or is apprehended within 10 days after he has committed the infraction will be punished with three months additional service; if the deserter is apprehended after that period, he will be punished with six months additional service.
In the second instance of simple desertion, the deserter will be punished with one year's additional service, without distinguishing in this case whether he reported or was apprehended within 10 days. In such cases, desertion will be documented in a formal act and the sanction will be imposed by the authority stipulated in the regulations issued by the executive branch.
Article 720. Aggravated desertion is desertion accompanied by any of the following circumstances:
1. Violence or breakout
3. Scaling, i.e. when in order to escape, the deserter scales a material and visible obstacle built as an element of perimeter defence, using devices, considerable effort or great agility.
4. Leaving a vessel through unauthorized exits.
5. Using boats, aircraft or other means of locomotion belonging to the military service, or taking animals, arms, ammunitions, instruments, navigational devices, tools or items of equipment, except for the compulsory uniform and those additional items it is compulsory to carry, at the time of desertion.
6. During the performance of duties or while serving a punishment involving arrest or confinement.
Article 721. In the first instance of aggravated desertion, the deserter who reports or is apprehended within 10 days after he has committed the infraction will be punished with six months additional service; if the deserter is apprehended after that period, he will be punished with one year's additional service. The second instance of aggravated desertion will be punished with two years additional service. In the event that the same person has committed both simple and aggravated desertion, the sanction will be the number of months of extra service resulting from the sum of the time established for each of these infractions. In such cases, infractions will be proven through information and the sanctions will be imposed by the authority stipulated in the regulations issued by the executive branch.
Article 722. A person who has deserted three or more times will be condemned after a hearing by the War Council to between two and five years of imprisonment or confinement and, in this case, the disciplinary sanctions imposed on him for the earlier desertions will be annulled, notwithstanding the fact that he must make up his remaining service time after he has served his sentence.
Article 723. If the desertion takes place on foreign soil in peacetime, the deserter will be sentenced to prison.
Article 724. In wartime, desertion will be punished by:
1. Death, if it takes place in the face of a foreign enemy or by deserting to its ranks.
2. With prison when committed in the face of a rebel enemy or by deserting to its ranks.
3. With prison in all other cases.
Article 725. A desertion conspiracy exists when the desertion involves four or more individuals, together and acting in mutual agreement. In this case, the sanctions will be increased by between one third and one half. The sanctions applicable to the leaders, promoters or organizers of the collective desertion will always be increased by one half.
Amended by Law 23049, Article 12
Background: Law 22971, Article 1
Article 729. Attempted desertion is carried out by anyone who:
1. Has been missing from his unit for two consecutive days and is found away from the place he has been assigned to.
2. Is apprehended in town after being missing from his unit for two consecutive days.
Article 730. In peacetime, persons found guilty of attempted desertion will be punished with disciplinary sanctions. In wartime, they will be sentenced to prison (Argentina 6 Aug. 1951).
Officers who desert are liable to be prosecuted for "abandonment of post" (abandono de destino) (ibid.). In peacetime, this offence is punishable by a warning (apercibimiento) or imprisonment of up to two months (ibid.). Should the officer be absent for a period exceeding 15 days, the penalty is dismissal (ibid.). In wartime, the offence is punishable by imprisonment, dismissal or another disciplinary sanction, according to the circumstances of each case (ibid.).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.
Argentina. 6 August 1951. Law 14.029: Code of Military Justice.
Conscription and Conscientious Objection Documentation (CONCODOC). 14 April 1998. "Argentina."
Office of the Defence Attaché, Embassy of Argentina, Ottawa. 19 June 2001. Telephone interview with official.