Several former members of the security forces accused of committing human rights abuses during the military governments (1976-83) went on trial. Judges, prosecution witnesses, non-governmental organizations and relatives of former victims involved in the trials were attacked and threatened in the last four months of the year. The trials followed a ruling by the Supreme Court in 2005 that the Laws of Final Stop and Due Obedience were unconstitutional.
In September the Senate passed a bill implementing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The bill was approved by the Chamber of Deputies in December.
Miguel Etchecolatz, former Director of Investigations of the Buenos Aires Province Police, was convicted of murder, torture and kidnappings during the military government and sentenced to life imprisonment in September. The three judges in the case ruled that he was responsible for crimes against humanity committed within the framework of genocide. Jorge Julio López, a main witness and complainant in the trial, went missing in September. There were fears that he may have been a victim of enforced disappearance.
Land issues and Indigenous people
Indigenous communities in Chaco and Salta Provinces, including the Toba, Wichi and Mocovi groups, staged hunger strikes, established roadside camps and submitted petitions to the authorities. Their petitions included requests for a reasonable budget for the Indigenous Institute of Chaco, provisions for housing and health and a halt to the irregular sale and distribution of state-owned land to lumber companies and soybean producers.
• In August members of the Wichi community in the General Mosconi area, Salta Province, established a roadside camp beside National highway No. 34 to call for the return of communal land. The land had been exploited by private companies and the local water company had cut off the water supply to the communities.
Conditions of detention continued to be harsh in most prisons and detention centres and detainees were ill-treated. Detainees were reportedly seriously injured in fires in prisons and police stations, allegedly because of lack of help.
• In March, Walter Daniel Lescano died as a result of burns acquired during a fire in the punishment cell where he was held in the men's prison in Santiago del Estero, Santiago del Estero Province. He had complained of ill-treatment by prison guards. An investigation was reportedly initiated into the circumstances surrounding the fire.
• In January, three detainees - Sergio Daniel Romero, 16-year-old Matías Martínez and 17-year-old Ricardo Edgar Pared - died and one, Hugo Ariel Escobar, suffered serious burns in a fire at the 7th Police Station in Corrientes, Corrientes Province. The four detainees had been handcuffed to the cell bars after being beaten by members of the police. An investigation was reportedly initiated.
AI country reports/visits
• Argentina: Possible "disappearance"/Fear for safety - Jorge Julio López (AI Index: AMR 13/004/2006)
• Argentina: Human rights cases endangered by new wave of threats (AI Index: AMR 13/005/2006)