Argentina

Photo: PROVEA

The measures adopted by the Venezuelan government, in the context of the election of the Constituent Assembly and protests by those who question it, further aggravated the human rights situation in that country.

On July 30, the government again responded with violence to demonstrations against it. On this occasion, ten people died, raising the number of people killed in protest situations to 119 in the last four months.

According to investigations by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, a considerable percentage of these deaths resulted from shots fired by police and military officials. Other deaths are due to the actions of armed civilian groups that respond both to sectors of the opposition that propose an insurrectionary response and to para-state groups. In situations of protest, the state response must be based on the principle of protecting life; this emanates from states’ international human rights obligations.

In various remarks in the last few days, Argentine government officials have insisted upon blaming foreign-born people for drug trafficking in our country. Security Minister Patricia Bullrich used skewed and decontextualized statistics and stigmatizing assertions to try to justify a toughening of the nation’s immigration policy, which the government has been announcing for several weeks.

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda by the UN coincided with a change of government in Argentina, which is reversing the public policies that were put in place to deal with the serious social, economic, institutional and political crisis of 2001 and 2002.

In its first months in power, the political coalition Cambiemos (Spanish for Let’s change) shifted away from a development model based on strengthening the domestic market, trade protectionism, expansion of social rights and an active role of the state in income redistribution through the collection of taxes on exports of agricultural products, towards a model favouring free trade, a competitive position in the global market, a lower level of state intervention in the overall economy and a reduction in taxes for the rich. Instead of continuing to expand social protection as required by the SDGs, the current government is aligning public policies with the interests of the sectors with greater political and economic power. The violation of various economic and social rights, which has occurred in a very short time, is creating a gradual and growing rejection within different social sectors.

The approval of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development coincided with the election of President Mauricio Macri’s new Government in Argentina. The first six months of President Macri’s administration reveal a strong shift in policy that will have a significant impact. In this context, the evidence shows that under the current policies, not only will the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed upon in the 2030 Agenda not be met, there will also be a significant reversal in terms of the social and environmental achievements of the previous decade. Preserving the social progress and well-being attained to date and coordinating critical actions is essential in light of a new neoliberal turn that seems to set the stage for greater social inequality and environmental contamination. The country’s array of active forums for involvement (unions, community and civil society organizations) must therefore review their positions and establish common goals in line with the SDGs.

Owners, executives and managers of some prominent companies actively participated in the human rights violations committed against workers during Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship, according to the report “Business responsibility in crimes against humanity: The repression of workers during state terrorism.” (available in Spanish) The report, laying out evidence of such violations, was recently released by Argentine human rights organization the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS, according to its acronym in Spanish), the Area of Economy and Technology of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO-Argentina), and the Truth and Justice Program and Human Rights Secretariat – both of which belong to the Argentine Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

The Basic Principles on Sovereign Debt Restructuring Processes, promoted by members of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, reflect demands regarding the need to establish fairer and more equitable debt restructuring mechanisms that social organizations have been making since the 1990s.

Principle number 8 recognizes that restructurings must respect human rights and contribute to “sustained and inclusive” economic growth in debtor countries to minimize the economic and social costs of financial crises. This mirrors some of the points that a group of 100 social organizations underscored last year regarding the capacity of States to strike accords with a majority of their creditors that guarantee the economic, social and cultural rights of their populations. We also contended at that time that the resolution of debt-related conflicts between a State and its creditors should be based on Public International Law and International Human Rights Law.

Revised global standards on the treatment of prisoners were adopted in Vienna to provide greater protection to persons deprived of their liberty. The detailed guidelines currently in effect were established by the United Nations 60 years ago. The four-year-long revision process took into account contributions by CELS and other national and international human rights organizations.

The text adopted at the UN Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice will be sent to the General Assembly for final approval. Starting in 2011, CELS and other organizations participated in the revision process during meetings of experts and the Commission's sessions.

This joint statement, signed by dozens of human rights organizations from all over the world, has been issued in response to the US Supreme Court decision on Argentina's sovereign debt. It has been coordinated by the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) from Argentina.

In a recent decision, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition filed by the Republic of Argentina in the case initiated by the vulture fund NML Capital.

The country urgently needs to adopt a model for sustainable development, but it faces serious obstacles in doing so. Legislation to protect the environment is still inadequate. The Government must take steps to resolve the country’s many environmental conflicts. The general public must be allowed access to information about the environment. Both the Government and the general public must recognize that Argentina’s environmental conflicts stem from a paradoxical vision that promotes investment “at any cost” while at the same time wants policies to protect the environment. The absence of a sustainable development policy has had a negative impact on the most vulnerable social groups in Argentine society: peasants, indigenous communities and people living in marginal urban areas.
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