Report on Human Rights Practices Country of Argentina

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Members of security forces convicted of a crime were subject to stiff penalties. In , authorities in Buenos Aires Province removed more than police officers for corruption and other offenses. Police may detain suspects for up to 10 hours without an arrest warrant if the authorities have a well-founded belief that the suspects have committed, or are about to commit, a crime or are unable to determine the suspected person's identity. Human rights groups report that the police often detains suspects longer than 10 hours. The law provides a person in detention with the right to a prompt determination of the legality of the detention, which entails appearance before a criminal lower court judge, who determines whether to proceed with an investigation.

There are frequent delays in this process and in informing detainees of the charges against them. The law provides for the right to bail, except in cases involving narcotics, violent crimes, and firearms violations. Although the bail system was used, civil rights groups claimed that judges were more likely to order the holding of indicted suspects in preventive or pretrial detention than to allow suspects to remain free pending their trial. In November the highest penal court broadly ruled that pretrial detention should be the exception to the rule, except in cases where a suspect represents a flight risk or may act to obstruct justice.

Detainees are allowed prompt access to counsel, and public defenders were provided for detainees unable to afford counsel, although such access sometimes was delayed due to an overburdened system. Strong demand and a lack of resources for the Public Defender's Office results in an excessive caseload for public defense attorneys. Although there are no official statistics on the percentage of detainees requesting public defense attorneys, human rights organizations estimated that 80 percent requested public defense attorneys.

Detainees also were allowed access to family members, although not always promptly. The law provides for investigative detention of up to two years for indicted persons awaiting or undergoing trial; the period may be extended for one year in limited situations. The slow pace of the justice system often resulted in lengthy detentions beyond the period stipulated by law. CELS reported that prisoners waited an average of three years to be tried, with some cases taking as long as six years to go to trial.

A convicted prisoner usually received credit for time already served. In , in Buenos Aires Province, provisional statistics from CELS indicated that nearly 75 percent of detainees were in pretrial detention, while the Buenos Aires Provincial Memory Commission Committee Against Torture reported that 78 percent of the approximately 26, detainees in provincial prisons were awaiting trial. According to several human rights organizations, 30 percent of pretrial detainees were eventually acquitted.

According to the Memory Commission's committee, there were approximately 6, complaints of human rights violations against juvenile detainees in provincial prisons and juvenile detention facilities, the majority of which were pending investigation. In July the Buenos Aires Provincial Supreme Court inaugurated an ad hoc juvenile justice system, which operated in eight out of 18 provincial districts. It provides minors age 16 to 18 the same procedural rights as adults and limits sentences to days in prison.

In August the minister of justice announced that he had instructed police forces to conform standard operating procedures for arresting minors to international standards; however, by year's end, there was no information on application of procedures. The law provides for the right to a fair trial, and the judiciary generally enforced this right.

However, there are complaints that some lower court federal judges, provincial judges, and judicial personnel were inefficient and at times subject to political manipulation. Justice organizations are particularly critical of the lack of independence of lower court judges with federal jurisdiction in many provinces. The judicial system is hampered by inordinate delays, procedural logjams, changes of judges, inadequate administrative support, and general inefficiency caused by remnants of the inquisitorial criminal justice system used in federal and many provincial courts.

Judges have broad discretion as to whether and how to pursue investigations, contributing to a public perception that many decisions were arbitrary. Allegations of corruption in provincial courts as well as federal courts located in the provinces were more frequent than federal courts with jurisdiction over the city and province of Buenos Aires, reflecting strong connections between the executive and judicial branches at the provincial level. In May the Congress passed a law establishing a process to appoint temporary judges in response to a Supreme Court order. However, legal scholars expressed concern that the law encourages delays in the selection of permanent judges and increases the executive branch's authority to appoint temporary judges without public vetting.

At year's end, there were vacant judgeships nationwide. There were some criticisms in the press that interim judges were subject to political manipulation due to the temporary nature of their position. The judicial system is divided into federal and provincial courts, both headed by a supreme court with appellate courts and district courts below it. The federal courts are divided between the criminal and civil courts. In August the Congress voted to abolish the military justice system, thus making members of the military subject to civil proceedings for crimes committed during peacetime and to a new military disciplinary code for infractions of military rules.

Trials are public, and defendants have the right to legal counsel and to call defense witnesses in the federal and some provincial courts that have an accusatory system of criminal justice. If needed, a public defender is provided at public expense when defendants face serious criminal charges. During the investigative stage, defendants can submit questions in writing to the investigating judge.

A panel of judges decides guilt or innocence. Federal and provincial courts continued the transition to trials with oral arguments in criminal cases, replacing the old system of written submissions. Although the constitution provides for trial by jury, implementing legislation had not been passed by year's end. In Cordoba Province, however, defendants accused of certain serious crimes have the right to a trial by jury. Lengthy delays in trials are a nationwide problem, with many cases taking five or more years to resolve.

Defendants are presumed innocent and have the right to appeal, as do prosecutors. Minors under age 16 cannot be criminally prosecuted. By law defendants and attorneys have access to government held evidence, but they may experience significant obstacles or delays in obtaining such evidence. In , the human rights organization Fundacion Sur noted that the country lacked a separate juvenile justice system that affords adolescents due process protections and the right to a legal defense in criminal cases and expressed concern that the broad discretion judges have in such cases increased the possibility of arbitrary rulings.

The age of legal liability is 16, and Fundacion Sur asserted that and year-old offenders frequently were transferred to adult criminal courts or held in juvenile detention centers for longer periods than warranted by their offenses. A December Supreme Court decision found that the country's juvenile justice system did not comply with international conventions and highlighted the need for the legislative branch to remedy the situation. There is an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters, and anyone may bring lawsuits seeking damages or the protection of rights provided by the constitution.

Government agencies, professional bar associations, universities, and NGOs provide free legal counseling and may represent indigent persons before civil courts as well as assist them in alternative dispute resolution proceedings. The constitution prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions in practice.

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. Individuals can criticize the government publicly or privately, but there are criminal penalties, including prison sentences, for libel and slander, and government officials have sought to use these against the political opposition and other critics.

The government pressed criminal libel and slander charges against Elisa Carrio, head of the opposition Civic Coalition party, for accusing officials in of corruption. In September Carrio won a civil case brought by the son of a deceased Peronist leader whom she accused of being involved in official corruption, murder, and drug trafficking; it was the second such case she had won.

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In December security forces arrested 26 "neo-Nazis," including four minors, on discrimination charges for conducting a ceremony to commemorate the death of World War II German naval captain Hans Langsdorff. All individuals subsequently were released but still faced discrimination charges.

The independent media are numerous and active and express a wide variety of views without restriction. Numerous FM radio stations continue to broadcast with temporary licenses pending conclusion of a licensing normalization process. Although the complaint was not resolved by year's end, COMFER did not enforce its decision, and the station continued to broadcast on the FM frequency. In August the Association for Civil Rights and the Open Society Justice Initiative published a report alleging that the government's allocation of state advertising funds affected press freedom.

The report claimed that the government abused the distribution of state advertising to benefit or punish the press according to the tone of their coverage of the administration. This assessment coincided with press reports and comments made in private by media organization leaders.

According to the Association for Civil Rights, the Neuquen provincial government had not complied by the end of with a Supreme Court order to present an official advertising distribution plan that would not indirectly curtail freedom of speech. The lawsuit lodged by the country's second largest media company, Grupo Editorial Perfil, against the federal government's use of government advertising as a means of indirect censorship remained pending at year's end. Journalist Sergio Poma died in January while awaiting appeal of a September Salta provincial court decision that sentenced him to a one-year suspended prison term and barred him from practicing journalism for one year for slandering the former governor of Salta.


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In November labor activists from the teamsters union, led by Hugo Moyano, vice president of the ruling Peronist Party and leader of the General Labor Confederation CGT , blocked a newspaper distribution center jointly run by the country's two leading newspapers, Clarin and La Nacion. The union maintained that the protest was technically for better wage and working conditions for the teamsters that drive newspaper distribution trucks.

However, media organizations and the opposition criticized the government failure to break up the blockade and called it a direct attack on press freedom; the two newspapers filed criminal charges against the perpetrators. There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitored e mail or Internet chat rooms.

Individuals and groups can engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e mail. According to the government's National Statistics and Census Institute, there are more than three million residential Internet users.

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There are no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events. The constitution provides for freedom of assembly and association, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. The constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respected this right in practice. The constitution also states that the federal government "sustains the apostolic Roman Catholic faith," and the government provided the Catholic Church with a variety of subsidies not available to other religious groups.

Other religious faiths were practiced freely. In order to hold public worship services, obtain visas for foreign missionaries, and obtain tax exempt status, religious organizations must register with the Secretariat of Worship in the Ministry of Foreign Relations, International Trade, and Worship and report periodically to maintain their status.

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Acts of discrimination and vandalism against religious minorities, particularly the , member Jewish community, continued. The most commonly reported incidents were desecration of Jewish cemeteries, anti Semitic graffiti, verbal slurs, and other forms of harassment. In May a federal prosecutor called for the indictment of former President Carlos Menem, former federal judge Juan Galeano, and others for their alleged role in covering up and protecting those involved in the attack. Subsequently, the presiding federal judge, following recommendations from the AMIA Special Prosecutor, issued an international request for the seizure of assets belonging to eight Iranians and Hezbollah to cover damages being claimed by the civil suit brought against the perpetrators.

In December the judge ordered the seizure of six commercial properties allegedly belonging to a former Iranian cultural attache who was among those accused of aiding in the attack. There are still no developments in DAIA's case against activists from the left wing group Quebracho that prevented Jewish community groups from demonstrating in front of the Iranian Embassy in The government continues to support a public dialogue to highlight past discrimination and to encourage improved religious tolerance.

The constitution provides for freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights in practice.


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The government cooperates with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, asylum seekers, and other persons of concern. The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its protocol, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. The government granted refugee status or asylum. The law allows the government to provide temporary protection for humanitarian reasons, including family reunification, to individuals who may not qualify as refugees under the convention and the protocol.

According to the government's Refugee Eligibility Committee, in the first 11 months of , persons sought asylum, and the government granted refugee status to 89 persons. In practice the government provides protection against the expulsion or return of refugees to countries where their lives or freedom would be threatened. The government grants refugee status and temporary protection for humanitarian reasons. The law provides citizens the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections based on universal suffrage.

National presidential and legislative elections took place in October At the national level, one half of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies and one third of those in the Senate were contested. The media, the Ministry of Justice, and various NGOs observed the elections and judged them free and fair, although several opposition parties filed a complaint alleging that ballots listing opposition candidates were not available at voting stations in some provinces. Decrees provide that one third of the members of both houses of congress must be women, a goal achieved through balanced election slates.

There were 28 women in the 72 seat Senate and women in the seat Chamber of Deputies. The president, two of the seven Supreme Court justices, and four cabinet ministers were women. Women constituted approximately 17 percent of top executive-branch positions at the federal level. One indigenous person served in the Chamber of Deputies. There were no other known ethnic or racial minorities in the national legislature.

There were no known indigenous, ethnic, or racial minorities in the cabinet or on the Supreme Court. The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, there were frequent press reports that executive officials engaged in corrupt practices, suggesting a failure to implement the law effectively. According to the World Bank's worldwide governance indicators, government corruption is a serious problem. Historically weak institutions and an often ineffective and politicized judicial system make rooting out corruption in any systemic fashion difficult.

Public officials are subject to financial disclosure laws, and the Ministry of Justice's Anti Corruption Office ACO is responsible for analyzing and investigating federal executive branch officials based on their financial disclosure forms. The ACO also is responsible for investigating corruption within the federal executive branch or in matters involving federal funds, except for funds transferred to the provinces.

Although nominally a part of the judicial branch, the ACO does not have authority to prosecute cases independently, but it can refer cases to other agencies or serve as the plaintiff and request a judge to initiate a case. Individual judges investigated most high-profile corruption cases, but prosecutions were not expected in a number of such cases that began in The minister of defense dismissed 31 senior officers and officials in August and another 13 in September following investigations into corrupt practices, and in September the army chief of staff resigned following his indictment over the illegal diversion of public funds in in another command.

Judicial authorities were pursuing the investigations with the ministry's support. According to press reports, the minister of health continued to push for greater transparency in the procurement of pharmaceuticals by the agency responsible for providing medicines to senior citizens following allegations of price fixing and overcharging by suppliers, many of whom were also reportedly prominent campaign contributors in In November the agency head resigned at the government's request.

In December a foreign plea agreement by the German corporation Siemens identified by their initials and titles several high level officials in former governments as having accepted multimillion-dollar bribes in the controversial procurement of a national identification card system. Investigations conducted by the NGO Poder Ciudadano in June and the National Electoral Court in September cited irregularities in the campaign finance reports of the presidential candidates. Their findings concluded that some candidates underreported their official campaign expenses, particularly regarding advertising costs; others overreported their expenses; and some received anonymous donations, which is prohibited by law.

Poder Ciudadano's report also alleged that public resources were used to promote President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's campaign. An executive decree provides for public access to government information from executive agencies, which are required to answer requests for public information within 10 working days, with a possible day extension. The capacity to comply with this requirement, however, varies across executive agencies.

Poder Ciudadano estimates that executive branch agencies answered such requests within the required timeframe approximately 70 percent of the time. The NGO notes that politically sensitive requests, such as the operational costs of the presidency, often were delayed or went unanswered. A wide variety of domestic and international human rights groups generally operates without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases.

Human rights in Argentina

Government officials usually are cooperative and generally responsive to their views. While the government cooperates with some international and local NGOs, the local chapter of a well-known international organization expressed concern in that, despite repeated requests, the government did not provide information under a freedom of information decree. The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status, and the government generally enforced these prohibitions in practice.

Domestical violence including marital rape, widespread pornography and teenaged female prostitution as well as political underrepresentation are effects of the Argentinian machist patriarchy. Domestic violence in Argentina against women is a serious problem. Rape, including spousal rape, is a crime, but the need for proof, either in the form of clear physical injury or the testimony of a witness, often presented difficulties in prosecuting such crimes. In August Amnesty International reported that a woman died every two days as a result of domestic violence.

Government agencies and departments to search, identify, review for public access, and provide records that shed light on human rights abuses in Argentina between and The report contains an introduction, executive summary, and a chapter describing the status of religious freedom in each of countries throughout the world.

Mandated by, and presented to, the U. Congress, the report is a public document available online and in book form from the U. It represents an updated, global look at the nature and scope of trafficking in persons and the broad range of government actions to confront and eliminate it. The annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices — the Human Rights Reports — cover internationally recognized individual, civil, political, and worker rights, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements.

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Department of State submits reports on all countries receiving assistance and all United Nations member states to the U. This annual report is entitled Country Reports on Terrorism. Click a topic to jump to it in the report. Jump to In This Section. The Table of Contents is only available within country reports. Select Sections Step 2: Build Report Step 1: Select Sections Select the sections to include: Executive Summary Section 1.

Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: Arbitrary Arrest or Detention e.