In October Cristina Fernández was elected President at the head of the Front for Victory, a coalition including the governing Justicialist Party. A law implementing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, making genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes offences in national law, came into force in January. A bill incorporating the crime of enforced disappearance into the Penal Code was awaiting approval by the Senate at the end of the year.
Impunity – justice for past violations
Several people charged with committing human rights violations during the period of military government (1976-1983) were sentenced during the year.
- Christian von Wernich, former chaplain of the Buenos Aires police, was sentenced to life imprisonment in October for his involvement in 42 abductions, seven murders and 31 cases of torture.
- In July the Supreme Court ruled that the presidential pardon granted by former President Carlos Menem to former general Santiago Riveros for past human rights violations was unconstitutional. In its ruling the Court stated that international legislation prohibits impunity for crimes against humanity.
Police and security forces
Municipal workers held strikes and demonstrations in support of their pay demands in the Province of Santa Cruz in May and August. Some demonstrations ended in violent confrontations with police. Twelve demonstrators were injured by rubber bullets fired by provincial police. Five police officers were also injured.
In April, a protester was killed by a tear gas canister during a demonstration by teachers demanding better working conditions in Neuquén, Neuquén Province. An investigation into the death was initiated.
Violent raids by police and armed guards on peasant and Indigenous communities were reported in the context of land disputes, particularly in Santiago del Estero Province. Organizations working on behalf of peasants were harassed.
Discrimination – Indigenous rights
In September the national Ombudsman submitted a preventive writ before the Supreme Court on behalf of Indigenous, mainly Tobas, communities in Chaco Province. The writ highlighted extreme levels of poverty and lack of food, access to drinking water, shelter and medical care in these communities. In October the Supreme Court ruled that the federal and provincial authorities must provide food, drinking water and health and education programmes and allocate specific resources to address the emergency in the communities.
In November, more than 30 detainees died during a fire in Santiago del Estero prison. The fire had reportedly been started by prisoners protesting against ill-treatment, abuse of authority, degrading body searches and the failure to investigate their complaints. The Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed concern and urged the authorities to take steps to protect those held in the prison system and to investigate the allegations.