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UA 319/93 - Argentina: kidnapping / physical assault / death threats / fear for safety: Hernan Lopez Echague

, N° d'index: AMR 13/002/1993

Hernan Lopez Echague, a reporter for the Buenos Aires daily Pagina 12, has been the victim of violent physical attacks and death threats by unidentified men on two occasions between 25 August and 9 September. The attacks followed his journalistic articles linking members of the ruling Peronist party with thugs that attacked journalists on 14 August at the Rural Association (Sociedad Rural) farm fair.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 13/02/93
Distr: UA/SC
UA 319/93 Kidnapping/Physical Assault/Death Threats/ 10 September 1993
Fear for Safety
ARGENTINA: Hernán LOPEZ ECHAGUE (Journalist)
Amnesty International is deeply concerned for the physical safety of the
journalist Hernán López Echague, a reporter for the Buenos Aires daily Página
12, who has been a victim of violent physical attacks on two occasions between
25 August and 9 September 1993, by unidentified men.
According to reports, on 8 September 1993, two unidentified men attacked Hernán
López Echague as he was leaving a supermarket with his wife. He was hit over
the head and forced into a car. Inside the vehicle other men continued hitting
him and warned him that, next time, they would kill him. After a short drive
Hernán López Echague was dumped on a side street by his assailants.
Previously, on 25 August at 3am Hernán López Echague was attacked by two
unidentified men who were waiting at the entrance of his home in Buenos Aires.
They hit him over the head and slashed his face with a flick-knife warning
him to stop "publishing those things or the next time it will be worse". The
attack against Hernán López Echague followed his journalistic articles linking
leading members of the ruling Peronist party with thugs that attacked
journalists on 14 August at the Rural Association (Sociedad Rural) farm fair
which President Carlos Menem was addressing.
Following this first attack, two men allegedly involved were arrested on 30
August. At an identification parade however, Hernán López Echague failed to
recognize his assailants and the two detainees were released for lack of evidence
(falta de méritos).
Although an investigation was initiated into the first attack against Hernán
López Echague and, according to reports, some of the journalists threatened
have been offered protection by the authorities, Amnesty International is
deeply concerned at the pattern of intimidation of members of the press,
allegedly for their investigative journalism or criticism of the government.
Amnesty International believes that the authorities have a duty to safeguard
freedom of expression by thoroughly investigating all allegations of threats
and harassment against journalists, and then bringing to justice the
perpetrators and effectively guaranteeing the protection of journalists and
their families.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The attacks against Hernán López Echague have taken place in the context of
a wave of violence against members of the press in Argentina. Recent reports
indicate that over 100 journalists have received anonymous death threats against
themselves or their families and have been victims of harassment by unidentified
people. Amongst those attacked or harassed in the last three months are Marcelo
Bonelli radio commentator and columnist of the newspaper Clarín, radio and
television presenters Magdalena Ruiz Guiñazú and Mónica Cahen D'Anvers who
received anonymous death threats against their grandchildren; and Graciela
Guadalupe journalist of the daily La Nación who received death threats against
her son. All the attacks have been denounced to the authorities. The Argentine
Press Workers Federation (FATPREN), Federación Argentina de Trabajadores de
Prensa, has reported the attacks to the authorities and held them responsible.
They also stated that freedom of expression and the safety of journalists is
in great danger in Argentina.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in Spanish or in your own language:
- expressing concern at the assaults against Hernán López Echague and urging
the authorities to thoroughly investigate the events of 25 August and 8 September
1993 and to bring those responsible to justice;
- expressing concern at reports which indicate that members of the press and
in some cases their relatives are being subjected to harassment and death threats
because of the exercise of their freedom of expression;
- urging the authorities to take steps to guarantee the physical safety of
journalists and their families.
APPEALS TO
1) President of the Republic
Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente
de la República Argentina
Dr Carlos Saúl Menem
Casa Rosada
Balcarce 50
Buenos Aires, C.F. Argentina
Telegrams: Presidente Menem, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Faxes: +541 311 0474 (Press office of the Presidency
Salutation: Excelencia/Excellency
2) Minister of Interior
Sr. Ministro del Interior
Sr. Carlos Ruckauf
Ministerio del Interior
Casa de Gobierno
Balcarce 24
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Telegrams: Ministro Interior, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Telexes: 21194 (Via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Faxes: +541 331 1156
Salutation: Señor Ministro/Dear Minister
3) Governor of Buenos Aires Province
Sr. Gobernador de la Provincia de Buenos Aires
Sr. Eduardo Duhalde
Casa de Gobierno
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Telegrams: Gobernador Provincia Buenos Aires, Argentina
Salutation: Señor Gobernador/ Dear Governor
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
Página 12 (Newspaper)
Av. Belgrano 671/77
1092 Buenos Aires, Argentina
La Nación (Newspaper)
Bouchard 557
1106 Buenos Aires, Argentina
Federación Argentina de (Press Association)
Trabajadores de Prensa (FATPREN)
Solis 1164
1078 Capital Federal, Argentina
and to diplomatic representatives of Argentina accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 22 October 1993.

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