Women and girls faced obstacles in accessing legal abortions; the criminalization of sexual and reproductive rights intensified. Discrimination against Indigenous Peoples continued.
The National Congress passed the Law on Access to Public Information (Law 27.275). The National Council of Women presented the National Action Plan for the Prevention, Assistance and Eradication of Violence against Women.
In June and October, mass protests took place under the slogan “Not One Less” over pervasive violence against women, femicide and the lack of public policies to address the situation.
Argentina was subject to the scrutiny of the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW Committee), and the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Sexual and reproductive rights
In April, a woman from the Tucumán province was found guilty of “murder” and sentenced to eight years in prison after suffering a miscarriage in a hospital, according to her clinical record. She was reported to the police by hospital staff for purportedly inducing an abortion and held in pre-trial detention for over two years. She was first charged with undergoing an illegal abortion and then with aggravated murder for the premeditated killing of a close relative (a crime that carries prison sentences of up to 25 years). In August, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed concern regarding this case, recommending that the government consider decriminalizing abortion and calling for her prompt release. The Committee further called on Argentina to liberalize its laws on abortion, to ensure that all women and girls have access to reproductive health services, and “that women are not obliged, as a consequence of legal obstacles, the exercise of conscientious objection of health workers or the lack of medical protocols, to resort to clandestine abortions that put their lives and health at risk”. The Tucumán Supreme Court ultimately ordered the woman’s release that month but had to issue a final ruling on the eight-year sentence imposed on her by the lower court.
In July, a 12-year-old girl from the Wichí Indigenous community was raped by a group of non-Indigenous men. The rape resulted in a pregnancy which she was forced to continue, despite the fact that her parents had reported the rape. At 31 weeks, the girl was allowed to have a caesarean section only because the pregnancy was unsustainable.
In November, the CEDAW Committee urged Argentina to ensure that all provinces approve protocols to facilitate access to legal abortion; ensure that women have access to safe legal abortion and post-abortion services and take definitive steps to prevent “the blanket use of conscientious objection by doctors refusing to perform abortions, considering in particular the situation of early pregnancies as a result of rape and incest that may amount to torture”; and “accelerate the adoption of the draft law for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy increasing legal access to abortion”.
Indigenous Peoples’ rights
Although the Constitution recognizes the rights of Indigenous Peoples to their ancestral lands and to participate in the management of natural resources, the majority of Indigenous communities remained without legal acknowledgment of their land rights.
Indigenous Peoples reported over 200 cases of violations of their human rights to land, participation and consultation, equality and non-discrimination and access to justice, among other rights.
2016 marked seven years of impunity in the case of Javier Chocobar, leader of the Chuschagasta Indigenous community, who was killed for peacefully defending his land in the Northern Province of Tucumán.
Refugees’ and migrants’ rights
In August, the National Migration Directorate and the Ministry of Security announced the establishment of a detention centre for migrants. This did not comply with the rights to liberty, freedom of movement and the protection from arbitrary detention.
During the Leaders’ Summit on Refugees in New York, USA, in September, Argentina pledged to receive 3,000 Syrian refugees, prioritizing families with children. At the end of the year, details of the resettlement programme remained unspecified.
Public trials were held for crimes against humanity during the military regime between 1976 and 1983. Between 2006 and December 2016, 173 rulings had been issued, bringing the total number of those convicted to 733.
In May, a historic sentence was passed on the “Plan Cóndor” case, a co-ordinated intelligence plan launched in the 1970s by the de facto governing military regimes in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. Reynaldo Bignone, the last de facto President of Argentina at the time, was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. A further 14 military leaders were sentenced to imprisonment. In August, the sentence on the “La Perla” historical trial – which included clandestine centres in Córdoba Province – was rendered, sentencing 28 perpetrators to life imprisonment. Nine sentences were passed for between two and 14 years’ imprisonment and six acquittals.
By December, the Bicameral Commission to identify economic and financial interests that had colluded with the military dictatorship, created by Law 27.217 in 2015, had not been established.
The public hearing continued of the cover-up of the investigation into the 1994 attack on the Jewish Mutual Association of Argentina (AMIA) building, in which 85 people were killed. Among those accused were former President Carlos Menem, a former judge and other former officials. The main case relating to the attack had been stalled since 2006. In August, the AMIA Prosecutorial Investigation Unit identified Augusto Daniel Jesús as the final victim who still had to be identified.
Freedoms of expression and assembly
Reports of unnecessary and excessive use of force by security forces in the context of public protests continued.
On 16 January, the social leader Milagro Sala was arrested and charged for protesting peacefully in Jujuy in December 2015. Despite her release being ordered in this case, further criminal proceedings were then initiated against her in order to keep her in detention. In October the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that her detention was arbitrary and asked for her immediate release.
On 17 February, the “Protocol on State Security Force Conduct during Public Protests” was published, issued by the National Ministry of Security, stating that forces should repress and the justice system criminally prosecute those exercising their right to peaceful assembly.
On 31 March, the Buenos Aires Public Prosecutor’s Office issued judgment FG N 25/2016, which led to serious risks of undue restriction on the right to peaceful assembly.
Human rights defenders
The human rights defender Rubén Ortiz was threatened and intimidated over his support for the rights of peasant farmer (campesino) communities in the Province of Misiones. An investigation process was ongoing at the end of the year.
Torture and other ill-treatment
The National Committee for the Prevention of Torture had not been established by the end of the year, despite government regulation of the National System for the Prevention of Torture, comprising legislators, government authorities and representatives of civil society organizations. The duties of the Committee included visits to detention centres, prevention of prison overpopulation and regulations on transfers.