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Argentina: Intimidation acts against the UN Rapporteur Mr. Leandro Despouy


ARGENTINA: OMCT expresses its grave concern about the intimidation acts against Mr. Leandro Despouy

Geneva, October 12, 2006. The International Secretariat of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is deeply concerned about the intimidation suffered by Mr. Leandro Despouy, famous human rights lawyer and one of the founders of OMCT, who is currently Auditor General of the Republic of Argentina and United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.

OMCT was informed that, on October 1, 2006, Mr. Leandro Despouy, who as Auditor General is one of the principal investigators into the alleged irregularities within the Government, received at home an intimidatory phone call, in which two men, who knew his name, told him:“(…) they had kidnapped by mistake his mother and his sister (…)”, that is to say that both were victims of an alleged “express kidnapping”. According to the information received, in the same phone call, they related Mr. Despouy situations corresponding to the habitual movements of his relatives.

Finally, helped by a neighbour and a cell phone, Mr. Leandro Despouy was able to check that his relatives were doing fine, while the criminals, still on the line, were telling him to go out on the street, in order to see them inside of a van. When Mr. Despouy stopped the communication, he could see that a policeman and two other persons were walking away from his house. Following this situation, Mr. Despouy asked the police to inform him about police patrols taking place in his neighbourhood at this moment.

This event follows a series of similar cases of threats through letters and messages, which, according to reports, were directed against various persons working in the human rights field and following the disappearance of Jorge Julio López, former disappeared-detainee and key witness in the judgement of the former policeman and former Director General of Buenos Aires Investigations Department Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz prosecuted for crimes against humanity committed during the last military government of Argentina (1976-1983) (see OMCT ARG 260906 Appeal and OMCT Press Release, diffused on October 3, 2006).

OMCT, condemning these intimidation acts, wishes to emphasize the work performed by Leandro Despouy in the field of human rights during the governments of Presidents Raúl Alfonsín and Fernando de la Rúa, and when he represented Argentina at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. OMCT expresses its deep concern about this wave of threats which have put in danger prestigious Argentinean dignitaries and their relatives.
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