Urgent Interventions

Argentina: deaths, arbitrary arrests and injuries to demonstrators

Case ARG 280602 / Case ARG 280602.ESCR
Disproportionate use of force

The International Secretariat of the OMCT requests your URGENT intervention in the following situation in Argentina.

Brief description of the situation:

The International Secretariat of the OMCT is seriously preoccupied by the recent violent outbursts by police forces against piqueteros (demonstrators) and desocupados (unemployed people) demonstrating in the suburb of Buenos Aires. 2 people reportedly died in these incidents and about 60 were injured.

According to the information received from a reliable source, the clashes between the police and the demonstrators occurred around midday on 26 June 2002. The demonstrators were trying to block the Puente Pueyrredón, one of the access points to the city. The victims who died following the clashes were aged between 20 and 25, as confirmed by Osvaldo Vega, chief police inspector of the Conurbano Sur area, but their identity remains unknown. The police also arrested 50 people.

According to the reports, Adriana D’Astek, executive director of the Hospital Fiorito, confirmed the information, mentionning that 17 injured people had been checked in after the events on Puente Pueyrredón, two of whom were men of about 25 years of age, who had died as a result of their injuries. The reports state that Ms D’Astek gave the following details about the victims at the press conference held in front of the hospital: eight of them had been shot at, three of which had to be operated right away. According to the denunciations, six of the 60 injured demonstrators were injured by lead bullets (live ammunition).

According to the information received, the local police of Buenos Aires reacted very strongly against the people trying to block the road to the federal capital. The reports state that the police used tear gases and shot rubber and lead bullets at the people who had gathered to assert their economic and social rights.

According to additional information received, a city police inspector was attacked while he was justifying the police’s behaviour to the media, in the afternoon in front of the hospital. Piqueteros could be heard shouting close by when suddenly one of them managed to approach the inspector and hit him. The victim was immediately brought into the hospital by police staff.

Background information:

It is generally known that in the first term of 2002, the economy of Argentina suffered its worst crisis for more than a decade. The recession has lasted for more than two years and the rate of unemployment has reached an unprecedented level in recent times.

According to several sources, among which the annual national reports “Informes Nacionales: Argentina 2002”, the country’s deep economic, political and social crisis is the reason for the social unrest. The consequences were spontaneous demonstrations ocurring throughout the country, that expressed legitimate popular claims, as a consequence to ongoing adjustment policies and increasing social exclusion. These demonstrations were declared illegal and systematically repressed.

The same sources report that in order to avoid depriving the people of social expectations, the transition government will have to give a tangible response to the need for changes dramatically expressed by society. No economic measure is viable if it does not fulfil the conditions required for the respect social rights. Consequently, the transition agenda will have to build on a political concensus, taking into account large parts of the population that desperately lack food, thus making the social question a priority.

The International Secretary of the OMCT shares the preoccupation of human rights organizations about the above-mentioned facts, particularly about the life and the physical and psychological integrity of the detainees, and more generally for the safety of the unemployed and of the demonstrators in the capital and throughout the country.
Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in Argentina urging them to:

i. guarantee adequate free medical care to the victims injured in the incidents mentionned above;

ii. guarantee the security and the physical and psychological integrity of the detainees in the above-mentioned events;

iii. order the immediate release of the people arrested without any valid judicial charge against them, or if such charges exist, bring them to a competent and impartial civil court of justice, making sure the procedural law is respected;

iv. Order a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of the above-mentioned events on the Puente Pueyrredón in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;

v. guarantee adequate reparation to the relatives of the victims and adequate rehabilitation to the persons injured during the above-mentioned events;

vi. on a general basis, guarantee the respect of human rights and the fundamental freedoms in the country in accordance with national laws and international human rights standards and particularly with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, ratified by Argentina.

· Dr. Eduardo Duhalde, Presidente de la República de Argentina, e-mail:

· Sr. Jorge Rubén Matzkin, Ministro del Interior, Balcarce 24 (1064) CAP. FED. Teléfonos: (+ 54 11) 433 1 45 71 / 6756 / 9951 - (+ 54 11) 4342 60 81 / (+ 54 11) 4343 08 80 . E-mail:

· Dr. Jorge Reinaldo Vanossi, Ministro de Justicia y Derechos Humanos ; Sarmiento 329 (1041) 5° piso - Cdad. Autónoma de Buenos Aires Teléfonos: Conmutador : (+ 54 11) 4328-3015/9. Fax : (+ 54 11) 4328 53 95

· Dr. Julio S. Nazareno, Presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia de la Nación, Argentina Fax: (54 11) 4374 39 51; E-mail:

· Dr. Eduardo Mondito, Defensor del Pueblo de la Nacion, Argentina, Fax. (+5411) 4819 15 81 E-mail:

Please also write to the embassies of Argentina in your respective country.

Geneva, June 28th 2002

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
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