Argentina 2019
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Argentina 2019

Women and girls faced widespread barriers to accessing their sexual and reproductive rights. Indigenous Peoples’ rights to ancestral lands were compromised by the failure to implement legislation ensuring such rights and extraction projects which were not properly consulted. The government adopted a set of regressive measures that threatened the rights of migrants and asylum-seekers.

Background

Argentina continued to face a profound economic and social crisis. Increased poverty, a drop in real wages, a rise in unemployment and the loss of purchasing power due to inflation and the implementation of austerity measures affected access to the basic human rights for large parts of the population, such as access to food, health, education and housing.

International scrutiny

Argentina’s human rights record was reviewed by the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (UN Committee on Migrant Workers). The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, the Rapporteur on the right to privacy and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights visited the country during the year.

Sexual and reproductive rights

Women and girls continued to encounter widespread barriers to accessing legal abortion when the pregnancy posed a risk to their life or health or was a result of rape. Every four hours, a girl under 15 gives birth in Argentina; the majority undergo forced pregnancies which are the result of sexual violence, seriously affecting their mental and physical health.[1]

An 11-year-old rape survivor from the province of Tucumán was refused a legal abortion for almost five weeks, despite her own and her mother’s expressed their will for a termination. Two doctors who eventually carried out the termination, in compliance within the law, were facing criminal charges at the end of the year.[2]

Violence against women and girls

According to figures published by civil society, at least 327 femicides occurred between January and December.

One in three women experienced violence on social media in Argentina. Research showed that 23% of women who participated in the public debate on social media regarding the legalization of abortion were the target of online abuse, including direct or indirect threats of physical or sexual violence, sexist and misogynist abuse, harassment and violation of privacy in the form of doxing (the uploading of private information to a public platform with malicious intent).

Indigenous Peoples’ rights

The majority of Indigenous communities still lacked legal recognition of their territorial rights, even though the Constitution recognizes their right to ancestral lands and natural resources.

Thirteen years after it was approved, the Territorial Emergency Law (N°26.160) had still not been fully implemented. Under this law, evictions of Indigenous Peoples from their traditional lands were suspended pending a survey of all Indigenous lands. A survey had only been initiated in 38% of Indigenous communities by the end of 2019.[3]

In the Province of Jujuy, projects for possible lithium extraction were initiated on the lands of Indigenous Peoples without carrying out an exhaustive study of the possible impact on natural resources and without ensuring the free, prior and informed consent of the Indigenous communities affected. For example, in the Salinas Grandes Salt flats licences for lithium exploration were granted without proper consultation with Indigenous communities affected who continued to demand information about the potential impacts of mining on their water sources.  

Impunity

Trials before ordinary civilian courts continued for crimes against humanity committed under the 1976-1983 military regime. Between 2006 and December 2019, 238 rulings were rendered, bringing the total number of convictions to 962 and acquittals to 157.

Some 25 years since Argentina's worst-ever terrorist attack, no one had been convicted of the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) centre, in which 85 people died and hundreds were injured. At the end of an oral trial lasting almost four years related to a cover-up operation, eight people were convicted and five people were acquitted for their roles in obstructing the investigation into the 1994 attack.

In September, the Federal Chamber of Appeals of Comodoro Rivadavia decided to reopen the investigation into the disappearance and death of Santiago Maldonado. His body had been found in 2017 in a river on Mapuche territory in the Province of Chubut, 78 days after the security forces carried out an operation in the area.

Police and security forces

In January, in the context of increasingly harsh security measures, the Ministry of Security authorized the use of electro-shock weapons by the national security forces in situations that did not respect international standards on the use of such weapons (Resolution 395).

In September the Ministry published Resolution 845/2019 authorizing police and security forces to verify the identity of users of the national train service, apparently for crime prevention, with no previous reason justifying the measure and in clear violation of human rights standards.

Both resolutions were repealed in December 2019 (Res. 1231). Concerns remained over the announcement of new rules concerning the use of electro-shock weapons.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

In October, Jorge González Nieva, who had been in pre-trial detention for over 12 years, was transferred to house arrest. He was still awaiting a final decision by the Supreme Court of justice in the proceedings against him at the end of the year.

Rights of refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants

The government adopted a set of regressive measures, through regulations and practices, that restrict the rights of migrants and facilitate discrimination and xenophobia. Despite having been deemed unconstitutional and criticized by several human rights mechanisms, Executive Order 70/2017, which modified the Migration Act, continued to be applied. An increasing number of deportations carried out under this Order targeted migrants with irregular status and/or criminal records without affording them procedural guarantees and in violation of migrants’ rights to family unity and the best interest of the child. Vanessa Gómez Cueva, a Peruvian mother of three, was deported from Argentina with her 2-year-old son and forced to leave her other two children behind. After seven months, she received permission to return.

The UN Committee on Migrant Workers called on Argentina to withdraw Executive Order 70/2017, refrain from carrying out deportations that separate families, further strengthen efforts to prevent violence against vulnerable groups of migrants and take steps to prevent xenophobic rhetoric that undermines the dignity of migrants.

By the end of the year, more than 180,000 Venezuelans had arrived in Argentina, most of them fleeing the humanitarian crisis in that country.

Through an innovative community sponsorship scheme, the Syria Programme, more than 445 Syrian refugees had arrived in Argentina in total by the end of 2019.

Climate Change

Argentina had yet to ratify the Escazú Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, which it had signed in 2018.

In 2019, the National Congress approved the Law on minimum budgets for adaptation and mitigation to global climate change (N°27.520). Argentina missed the opportunity to update its commitments on national determined contributions (NDC) at the Conference of Parties (COP25). 


[1] Americas: Latin America must stop forcing pregnant girls into deadly situations (News story, 5 March)

[2] Argentina: Authorities deny 11-year-old’s right to terminate forced pregnancy (News story, 28 February)

[3] Argentina: Estado de situación de la ley de emergencia territorial indígena 26.160, 9 August (Spanish only)