Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders Annual Report 2002 - Argentina

Criminalisation of social protest19

On 29th June 2002, Mr. Claudio Pandolfi, a lawyer acting for the association against police and institutional repression (Coordinación contra la represión policial e institucional – CORREPI), dedicated to the defence and protection of victims of illegitimate action on the part of public employees, received threats which were recorded on his answering machine at his office. The threats were apparently linked to his investigation of the disturbances at Avellaneda, in the Buenos Aires province on 26th June, during which two demonstrators were killed and sixty people injured.

The same day the photographer Sergio Kowalewski, who had taken photographs that were published in the press this leading to the identification of the members of the police responsible for the death of the demonstrators, received three death threats at his home.

It has been established that the threats came directly from official quarters, although the investigations have not identified the author. Claudio Pandolfi and the members of CORREPI have received no further threats. However witnesses to the facts related to the repression at Avellaneda, or to the events of 19th and 20th December 2001, before the fall of former President De la Rua, have received death threats. Furthermore, the federal police have initiated legal proceedings against certain citizens who had denounced its involvement in the 20th December repression.

Attack against the President of the Association of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo20

On 20th September 2002, the President of the Association of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Maio (Asociación de las Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo), Mrs. Estela Carlotto, suffered a violent attack. Around three o'clock in the morning, unidentified individuals opened fire on her house, in the city of La Plata, damaging the front and the inside of the building. Two days previously, the Provincial Commission for Memory, chaired by Mrs. Carlotto, had presented a document to the Supreme Court in which she denounced the abuses and terror practices of the Argentine police. The Commission received further threats on 25th September 2002. An unidentified person telephoned the office of the Commission, threatening them with these words: "Beware, we are going to eliminate all of you".

Investigations to identify the individuals directly or indirectly responsible for the attack on Mrs. Estela de Carlotto have made no progress. However the massive mobilisation, demonstrations and numerous signs of support of the population were a real setback for the authors of the attack. At the end of 2002 the Association was still being subjected to harassment. On 25th December 2002 an exhibition organised by the Association of the grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Gonet was vandalised, and police enquiries to identify the culprits have so far yielded no results.

[Refworld note: This report as posted on the FIDH website (www.fidh.org) was in pdf format with country chapters run together by region. Footnote numbers have been retained here, so do not necessarily begin at 1.]

19. Open letter to President Eduardo Duhalde, 12 July 2002.

20. Open letter to the President, 23 September 2002.


This 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.