The government of Jujuy Province in Argentina must immediately cease the excessive use of force against those exercising their right to peaceful protest, which has resulted in hundreds of people being injured in recent days, Amnesty International said today.
“The government of Jujuy Province is turning its back on those who are exercising their right to protest against the constitutional reform, sending in the forces of law and order to use repression to fix a problem that should be resolved through dialogue. The security of the population cannot be guaranteed by violating human rights,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.
Since the start of the protests against constitutional reform and for teachers’ salary demands in Jujuy, a province in northern Argentina, the provincial police have responded with excessive use of force, indiscriminately using rubber bullets, tear gas and physical violence against the population, especially against Indigenous people and campesinos (rural farmworkers).
“The government of Jujuy Province is turning its back on those who are exercising their right to protest against the constitutional reform.Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International
On 15 June, the Constitutional Convention approved a fast-track constitutional reform that left no room for public participation or consultation. A process that was intended to include at least 90 days of debate was completed in just three weeks, and without releasing the final text until the day of its adoption.
After its approval, demonstrations against the reform took place in various locations around the province. The repression of these demonstrations has already left hundreds of people injured, including a 17-year-old boy who lost an eye after being shot with rubber bullets by the police. Furthermore, according to official information, more than 60 people have been detained, many of them charged with the crime of “resisting authority”, which is generally used to restrict social mobilizations and the constitutional right to petition and demonstrate against the authorities.
The authorities of Jujuy Province must guarantee the rights to peaceful protest and freedom of expression and refrain from excessive use of force in response to demonstrations across the provincial territory. In addition, it is imperative that allegations of human rights violations committed by the police in all the protests around the province be investigated promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially.
Amnesty International also calls for the publication of full, detailed and disaggregated information on the number of people injured and detained, as well as the charges against them. It further urges the authorities to address the structural causes that have led various sectors of the population to demonstrate in defence of their human rights. The organization calls on the provincial government to promote a space for genuine dialogue with all actors involved, ensuring the effective participation of Indigenous Peoples, trade unions and teachers’ organizations, in particular, so that the key issues for the people of Jujuy can be discussed in sufficient depth.
The security of the population cannot be guaranteed by violating human rights.Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International
Some of the issues that have raised concern among the population and human rights organizations relate to proposals for reform linked to:
- the regulation of social protest and a prohibition of different forms of public demonstration by the people, such as “street and road blockades” and “any other disturbance of the right to free movement of persons”, invoking the “right to social peace”
- environmental matters, including the water regime, ownership, authorizations and licences for environmental exploration or exploitation
- Indigenous Peoples’ exercise of consultation, participation and territorial ownership.
Although the clauses associated with the direct participation of Indigenous Peoples were finally removed, this does not exclude the fact that the entire text should be submitted for consultation with the communities and other social actors, as required by international law.