Urgent Interventions

Argentina: departure of police commissioners and detention of police staff after disproportionate use of police force in riot

Case ARG 280602.1 / Case ARG 280602.1ESCR
Follow-up Case ARG 280602 / Case ARG 280602 ESCR
Abuse of police force: two cases of death/ Detention of policemen

Geneva, 02 July 2002

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

New information:

The International Secretariat of the OMCT has received new information concerning the abuse of police force and the death on 26 May 2002 of two demonstrating picketers during the demonstrations.

According to reliable sources, the responsible of the Public Prosecution Service 11 of Lomas de Zamora, Juan José González, ordered the detention of chief police inspector Alfredo Franchiotti, of an officer named Quevedo and of the sergeant Lorenzo Colman, all three considered to have been involved in the death of 21-year old demonstrator Dario Santillán. Another youth, Maximiliano Costeki, aged 25, also died in the events that occurred during the clash following the blocking of Pueyrredón Bridge on 26 May 2002.

The reports state that the police superintendent of Buenos Aires, the commissioner Ricardo Degastaldi, as well as the second commissioner, Edgardo Belltracchi, announced their departures, which would have to be evaluated by the governor of the province. Those departures were consequences of the events that occurred on 26 May 2002, when two picketers taking part in a demonstration were shot dead, but the governor of the province, Felipe Solá, accepted the departures over the ministry of security Luis Genoud.

The International Secretariat of the OMCT is very satisfied with the detention of the police staff involved in the above-mentioned facts and expresses its request for the Argentinean authorities to carry out a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the circumstances of the above-mentioned events and to apply to those responsible the sanctions provided by law, making sure the events will not remain unpunished.

The International Secretariat of the OMCT shares the preoccupation of human rights organizations about the events, particularly about the safety and the physical and psychological integrity of the people that were injured during the demonstration, as well as of the detainees, and more generally for the safety of the unemployed and of the demonstrators in the capital and throughout the country.

Background information:

The International Secretariat of the OMCT had showed serious concern about the recent violent outbursts by police forces against unemployed demonstrators in the suburb of Buenos Aires, during which 2 people died and about 60 were injured.

According to information from reliable sources, a clash between the police and unemployed demonstrators occurred around midday on 26 June 2002. The latter were trying to block Pueyrredón Bridge, which gives access to the city of Buenos Aires, causing two deaths – at that time unidentified youths between 20 and 25 years of age. About 60 people were injured and 50 people were arrested. The deaths were confirmed by Osvaldo Vega, the chief police inspector of the Conurbano Sur area.

According to the reports, the executive director of the Fiorito Hospital, Adriana D’Astek, confirmed the information, mentioning that 17 injured people had been checked in after the events on Pueyrredón Bridge, with two of whom - men of about 25 years of age - found to be dead.

The reports stated 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 immediately. According to the reports, 6 demonstrators were injured by lead bullets (live ammunition), and altogether the clash caused 50 to 60 victims who were injured to varying degrees. According to the information received, the local police of Buenos Aires reacted very strongly against the people trying to block Pueyrredón Bridge 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. Picketers 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.

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 of the social split. The consequences were spontaneous civic demonstrations occurring 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 inform 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 to respect social rights. Consequently, the transition agenda will have to build on a political consensus, taking into account large parts of the population desperately lacking food, thus making the social question a priority.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in Argentina urging them to:

i. immediately order a thorough and impartial investigation into the circumstances of the abuse of police force by the riot squad in the above-mentioned events on Pueyrredón Bridge in order to identify those responsible, bring them to trial and apply the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions as provided by law;
ii. guarantee in every circumstance 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, 02 July 2002

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