Argentina: Authorities must guarantee the right to peaceful protest and investigate human rights violations following crackdown outside the National Congress

On 14 December, during a demonstration against the pension reform under discussion in the National Congress, the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials resulted in an unacceptable and illegal act of repression, Amnesty International declared today.

Various law enforcement authorities surrounded the area around the Congress building where the protesters were gathered and subsequently used undue force against them. Security forces deployed tear gas and fired rubber bullets in order to disperse and chase anyone in the area, including members of Congress, journalists and even passers-by. 

According to different sources, at least 45 people were arrested, many of whom were detained arbitrarily.

 

Violent repression by law enforcement officials must be condemned without delay by the highest-level authorities. Both peaceful protest and freedom of expression are human rights, and it is the duty of the state to protect all individuals and to take all necessary precautions to ensure that law enforcement authorities act in accordance with international standards and laws
Mariela Belski, Executive Director at Amnesty International Argentina

“Violent repression by law enforcement officials must be condemned without delay by the highest-level authorities. Both peaceful protest and freedom of expression are human rights, and it is the duty of the state to protect all individuals and to take all necessary precautions to ensure that law enforcement authorities act in accordance with international standards and laws”, said Mariela Belski, Executive Director at Amnesty International Argentina.

“What happened is exceptionally serious. Government representatives attacked with tear gas, members of the press injured, people in the vicinity arbitrarily and violently arrested. The authorities must swiftly and impartially investigate each and every undue use of force and prosecute all of those responsible, including officials with command responsibility”, said Belski.

The legislative reform under discussion has yet to be approved and may be addressed in the next few days, which could give rise to further protests.

Amnesty International reminds the Argentine authorities that they are duty-bound to ensure that law enforcement officials only resort to force in compliance with the law, paying due attention to the principles of necessity, proportionality and accountability, in accordance with the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, and taking into account the serious impact that the use of force may have on several human rights, including the right to life, to physical integrity, to human dignity, to privacy and to freedom of movement, among others.  

Additional Information

Amnesty International has denounced the implementation of the “Protocol for Government Law Enforcement Authorities in Public Demonstrations” by the Ministry of Security in 2016. This protocol instructs law enforcement officials to use force to subdue peaceful demonstrations and allows for the criminal prosecution of individuals exercising this right, in violation of international standards.