Criminalisation of social protests debated during IACHR hearing

Peaceful Assembly

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) requested a hearing with civil society representatives and the state to discuss the situation regarding the right to peaceful assembly in Argentina during its 167th session in Bogot谩, Colombia.

During the hearing, civil society organisations and trade unions made statements testifying of the authorities' repression of protests, with instances of the disproportionate use of police force against demonstrations and the criminalisation of protesters. Furthermore, the organisations claimed that the punitive criminal justice system is being used to address social conflicts, instead of resolving issues through dialogue and negotiation. 

State representatives responded that the right to peaceful public protest "is fully guaranteed and rejected the notion that protest had been criminalized". They also indicated that police intervention "came about in response to acts of violence and serious disturbances, and that it had taken administrative steps and was cooperating with the justice system to determine any responsibility on the part of the police".

On 24th March 2018, people in Argentina took to the streets on the anniversary of the military coup, known as the National Day for Memory, Truth and Justice.  As with every year, this massive demonstration was attended by numerous and diverse social, cultural and political organisations. The march denounced the government鈥檚 plan to release people implicated in crimes during the dictatorship, as well as the death of activist Santiago Maldonado during a police raid on indigenous Mapuche territory and the state's repression of social protests. 

Expression

In a positive development, according to reports from Foro de Periodismo Argentino (Argentine Journalism Forum), a criminal court issued a decision condemning the former chief of police in Cordoba for a serious attack against journalist Dante Leguizam贸n.  According to reports, the journalist questioned Chief Su谩rez about a police operation during which two police officers had murdered a young man. The questioning provoked threats against the journalist, including a phone call to the journalist with the threat - "I will take care of you".  

In a separate incident, Asociaci贸n de Entidades Period铆sticas Argentinas (Association of Argentine Journalistic Entities) condemned the hostile statements from Carlos S谩nchez, mayor of Tres Arroyos (Buenos Aires Province), against the newspaper La Voz del Pueblo and Ramona Maciel, chief editor. According to the Association, on 3rd April 2018 S谩nchez reportedly made disparaging statements about the publication.  

Civil society organisations Asociaci贸n Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia, Fundaci贸n Directorio Legislativo and Poder Ciudadano sent a letter to the Chief of Cabinet, Carlos Pe帽a, rejecting the budget cuts to the Access to Public Information Agency.

According to the annual budget, the Agency's budget for the next fiscal year was significantly decreased. The organisations stated that this cutback represents interference from the Executive Branch in the Agency`s autonomy and that it will hinder the Agency's ability to fulfill its objectives.