EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 13/02/93
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
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