THE POLITICAL AND LEGAL SYSTEM IN ARGENTINA
1. Politically, Argentina is a federal republic with a representative form of government, as provided for in the Constitution adopted in Santa Fe, on May 1, 1853, by the General Constituent Congress of the Argentine Confederation. The Constitution has been amended several times.1
The constitutional legal order created a system of government for the Argentine nation in 1853 based on the principle of a tripartite separation of powers: Legislative, Executive and Judicial.2
As set forth in the Constitution, the Legislature consists of a Congress composed of two Chambers: The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Chamber of Deputies consists of representatives elected directly by the citizens of the provinces and of the capital, which for this purpose are considered electoral districts of a single state, and by a simple plurality of votes. The Senate is composed of three Senators from each province and three from the capital, elected by popular suffrage. The Legislature is responsible for drafting and enacting laws pursuant to the Constitution.
It should be pointed out that Congress has the power to declare a state of siege in one or several areas of the Nation in the case of internal disturbance, and it may approve or suspend a state of siege declared by the Executive during a congressional recess.3
The Executive power is vested in a citizen with the title of “President of the Argentine Nation”, who is directly elected at the same time as the Vice President, by the people; for election purposes Argentina is regarded as a single district. The Constitution establishes the procedure that must be followed in exercising the Executive power when special circumstances arise. In case of illness, absence from the capital, death, resignation or removal of the President, the Executive power shall be exercised by the Vice President. In case of the removal, death, resignation or disability of the President and the Vice President, the Congress shall determine which public official shall serve as President until the disability is removed or a new President is elected. The President holds office for the period and under the conditions set forth in the Constitution and he ceases to be in power on the very day on which his term of office expires; no interruption of his term shall justify extending it. The President has the power to declare a state of siege in the event of internal disorder, but only when the Congress is in recess, and with the limitations provided for in the corresponding provisions of the Constitution.4
The Judicial power of the Nation is exercised by the Supreme Court and in such lower courts as Congress may establish. The judges of the Supreme Court and of the lower federal courts are appointed by the Executive, with the Senate’s consent; but in no case may the President exercise judicial functions, assume jurisdiction over pending cases, or reopen those decided. The Supreme Court and the lower courts have jurisdiction over, and decide all cases dealing with, matters governed by the Constitution and the laws, with the reservations and exceptions stipulated in the Constitution itself.5
2. A long phase of political and social instability began in Argentina in 1930. It gave rise to institutional crises, the establishment of irregular or de facto governments, an internal state of war, state of siege and Martial law, attempts at totalitarian or joint rule, changes in the organization of State powers, enactment of repressive legislation and especially in the last ten years, an abrupt increase in terrorist violence by the extreme left and the extreme right, as a means of armed conflict. All of this has been detrimental to the rule of law.
In the last fifty years only two governments have completed their constitutional mandate: that of General Agustín P. Justo, 1932 to 1938, and that of General Juan Domingo Perón, 1946-1952. Military takeovers have prevented the completion of the other legal mandates during that same time period and since 1952, no government has completed its constitutional term of office.
Such conditions have had a direct effect on the constitutional legal order and have made it difficult to realize the representative and republican form of government provided for in Article 1 of the Constitution.
3. The political organization of the Argentine State, to which brief reference was made in the preceding paragraphs, has been substantially altered by the military takeover of March 24, 1976, the date on which the Armed Forces, “in view of the current state of the country”, proceeded to “take over the reins of Government of the Republic” in accordance with a public proclamation. To achieve this, they resolved to adopt measures concerning the organization and operation of the state authorities, in the Act for the National Reorganization Process, which included: a) to establish a military junta with the General Commanders of the Armed Forces, “which shall assume the political power of the Republic”, b) to declare the terms of office of the President and of the Governors and Vice Governors of the provinces to be null and void, c) to dissolve the National Congress, the provincial legislature, the House of Representatives of the city of Buenos Aires and the Municipal Councils of the provinces or similar bodies, d) to remove the members of the Supreme Court, the Attorney General and the other members of the higher provincial courts, and e) to appoint the citizen who shall serve as President.6
The Military Junta assumed the exercise of the constituent power and established the basic standards to which the Government must adhere in terms of the structure of the powers of the state.7 In this regard, the Statute for the National Reorganization Process reiterated what had been established in the Act in question. According to that Statute, as supreme organ of the Nation, the Military Junta is to see to “the normal functioning of the other powers of the State and the basic objectives to be achieved” exercising command over the Armed Forces and appointing the citizen who, given the title of President, is to exercise the Executive Power of the Nation and who may be removed by the Military Junta whenever it is considered desirable for reasons of State. The National and provincial governments must act in conformity with the basic objectives established by the Military Junta and the National and Provincial Constitutions, provided the latter do not oppose these objectives.8
1. A new juridical situation was created in Argentina with the military takeover of 1976, the formal roots of which are as follows:
a) The National Constitution
The Fundamental Text of 1853 is still in effect, but in a limited form; in other words, it is applied only with respect to those provisions that have not been amended by the current government. In such cases, the Constitution is invoked and applied provided it does not conflict with the provisions adopted by the Government, and provided it is not contrary to the basic objectives declared by the Armed Forces when they took power.
b) Acts and Statute for the National Reorganization Process
When they took over the Government on March 24, 1976, the Commanders of the Armed Forces issued the At for the National Reorganization Process, and the Act that established the purpose and basic objectives of the process. Through the first Act, the Military Junta was established, which took over the “political power of the Republic” and then declared the mandates of the President and of the Governors and Vice Governors of the Provinces to be null and void; to suspend the political activities of political parties and unions, business associations and professional organizations; to issue instructions to the military inspectors, and to notify foreign and national diplomatic representatives of what had occurred in order to ensure continuity in international relations. In the second Act, it is stated that the purpose of the process is to restore the essential values that are the foundation for state action, to eradicate subversion and promote economic development, “in order to ensure subsequent establishment of a republican, representative and federal democracy that is in keeping with the reality and the demands for a solution and progress for the people of Argentina.” The basic objectives as stated are, in summary, the following: to establish political sovereignty based on revitalized constitutional institutions, the validity of Christian moral values, national tradition and the dignity of the Argentine person; to ensure national security by eradicating subversion and the factors that abet it; to fully enforce the juridical and social system; to establish a socioeconomic situation that ensures the capacity for national decision and the Argentine man’s fulfillment; to achieve the general welfare through work; to establish harmonious relations among State, capital and labor; to establish an educational system suited to the country’s needs, and an international place for Argentina in the Western and Christian world.
The statute for the National Reorganization Process establishes, “the fundamental norms to which the Government shall conform with respect to the structure of the powers of the State and to act on them in order to achieve the fixed basic objectives.” The Military Junta provided for a number of measures, which included the following: a) appointment and removal of authorities at various levels, b) takeover of powers which, in accordance with the Constitution, corresponded to the Legislative and Executive powers, c) granting the appointed President powers, which, according to the Constitution, corresponded to the Legislative and Executive powers, c) granting the appointed President powers, which, according to the Constitution, are exclusive to the Powers mentioned above, d) a decision to the effect that, when drafting and approving laws, a committee of legislative consultation shall intervene, composed of nine high-level officials, of which three are to be appointed by each of the Armed Forces, and e) the issuance of laws for bringing to trial national and provincial judicial magistrates.9
c) Other legal provisions
Since March 24, 1976, a considerable number of provisions have been enacted and certain provisions decreed prior to that date have been extended. These provisions comprise a body of law, which is primarily aimed at developing the measures and purposes initially adopted. This new legal order is composed of laws and special decrees, institutional acts and statutes, communiqués and specific provisions, resolutions and instruction. Among other ends, it serves to preserve national security.
1. Argentina’s legal system constitutionally recognizes the declarations, rights and guarantees for the protection of the individual, within the representative, republican and federal forms of government. This protection is strengthened, moreover, by other provisions aimed at ensuring the efficacy of that system, which set forth other principles such as the principle that the people neither deliberate nor govern, except through their representatives and authorities, established in accordance with the Constitution; the principle that any armed force or meeting of persons assuming the rights of the people and petitioning in the latter’s name commits a crime of sedition; and the principle that the declarations, rights and guarantees listed in the Constitution should not be regarded as a denial of other rights and guarantees not listed, but which rise from the principle of the sovereignty of the people and from the republican form of government.10
The Constitution sets forth civil and social rights, individual guarantees, and other kinds of guarantees, as well as the rights, privileges and immunities inherent in the status of citizens, within a broad and systematized body of norms. Thus, the Constitution makes reference to protection of the following fundamental rights: religious freedom and freedom of worship; freedom of investigation, opinion, expression, and the right to print and publish; the right to residence and transit; the right to an education; the right to petition, association and assembly; the right to work and to a fair remuneration; the right to rest and recreation; the right to social security; the right to paid days of rest and vacation; the right to a minimum wage and protection against arbitrary dismissal; stability of public employment and union organization; prohibition of slavery; the right to freedom; equality before the law; the right to own property and to its inviolability, and abolition of confiscation of property, no armed body can make requisitions or demand assistance of any kind; the inviolability and conveyance of correspondence, the protection against arbitrary arrest; due process, personal security and abolition of the death penalty for political crimes; protection of honor and dignity; protection and guarantees for foreigners, the right of option to leave the country, and rules for employing the state of siege.11
2. With the military takeover of 1976, the constitutional system was altered by the new Government, by provisions which affect the full observance and exercise of human rights, despite the fact that in the Act issued on March 24 of that year, in which the purpose and basic objectives for the National Reorganization Process were set forth, a prime objective was “the validity of Christian moral values, national tradition and the dignity of the Argentine” and “a full enforcement of the juridical and social system.”
When the change of government occurred in March 1976, the country was in a state of siege, pursuant to Article 23 of the Constitution, which made possible implementation of severe national security measures in order to eradicate subversion. The state of siege, accompanied by a suspension of constitutional guarantees, had been declared during the government of Mrs. María Estela Martínez de Perón, by Decree 1.368 of November 6, 197412 and was extended by Decree 2.717 of October 1, 1975. Its validity in relation to the exercise of constitutional rights was clarified by Decree 642, of February 17, 1976. On the date of its establishment, the Military Junta issued 28 communiqués.13
3. By virtue of the Institutional Act of June 18, 1976, the Military Junta assumed “the power and responsibility to consider the actions of those individuals who have injured the national interest,” but on grounds as generic as “failure to observe basic moral principles in the exercise of public, political, or union offices or activities that involve the public interest.”14
Based on that Act, a number of special laws have been enacted, which, because of the discretionary nature of the powers granted, have led to the use of arbitrary measures, which have been the cause of intimidation and uncertainty.
The disqualification from holding public office and honorary posts, the restriction against practicing one’s profession, the restriction against administering and disposing of property, and the withholding of that property or its confiscation by the State are, among others, matters which in practice can lead to serious violations of human rights, since they lead to the creation and functioning of special bodies given jurisdictional powers, which apply the law on a retroactive basis, and ostensibly transgress the right to due process of law, by invoking, pursuant to the Act in question, “the responsibility of those who by action or omission, have facilitated an increase in disruptive subversion.”15
The nature and length of this Report are such that an exhaustive analysis of the voluminous body of laws that make up the legal system in Argentina since March 24, 1976, cannot be included. The foregoing notwithstanding, in the appropriate parts of the chapters of this document, reference will also be made to the corresponding legal provisions that may have some effect on the observance of human rights.16
1. Argentina is a member of the United Nations and the Organization of American States whose Charters set forth respect for human rights. Argentina took part in the international conferences where the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man were adopted.
2. Further, Argentina is a party to various international instruments on the observance and promotion of specific human rights.17
1. From the very moment the Commission made contact with the Argentine authorities to express its concern to them about the situation of human rights in that country, and later, in order to conduct an on-site observation, these same authorities linked the topic of human rights to the necessity of repressing terrorism and subversion as a means of preserving the national security.
During the interview the Commission held in 1977 with an Argentine delegation headed by the then Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Naval Captain Mr. Walter O. Allara, the latter stated that the problem of human rights in Argentina could not be analyzed outside the socio-political context within which terrorism took place. Vice Admiral Oscar A. Montes, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed similar views to the Commission on the occasion of an interview he had with the Commission on July 20, 1978; during that interview he also told the Commission that the emergency measures adopted by the Argentine Government had to be taken, “in order to exercise the legitimate right to defense against the on-slaught of terrorism.”
Practically all the authorities, beginning with the President of the Republic, the members of the Military Government Junta, the Minister of the Interior, and the Minister of Justice, told the Commission that the problem of the observance of human rights in Argentina could not be given precedence over the situation caused by terrorism and subversion. A number of these authorities provided the Commission with various pieces of background information with regard to the activities of terrorist and subversive groups. The Minister of the Interior, General Albano E. Harguindeguy, even had a voluminous document delivered to the Commission which describes various terrorists acts which, in the opinion of the Armed Forces, determined that they would “assume political power in Argentina together with the responsibility for containing the progressive dissolution of the State, the general chaos and the situation of extreme social indifference…”18
The Commission also had an opportunity to discuss this issue during its on-site observation, with a number of the political, social, religious, human rights, labor and business groups it interviewed. While it was possible to discern some discrepancy among these groups in their interpretation of the legitimacy of the methods used to repress the terrorism and subversion, it was also possible to confirm wide agreement as regards the existence of the terrorist phenomenon and the damage caused by its actions.
2. Through these interviews and its own research, the Commission has come to have an adequate understanding of the violence and social unrest that devastated Argentina during the years immediately prior to the government takeover by the current authorities, as well as of the sporadic terrorist acts that still appear to persist.19
The importance of this issue and its invocation as a justification for the Government’s conduct in the matter of respect for human rights, provide sufficient reason for the Commission to restate in as clear terms as possible, its thinking in this regard. Basically this issue can be analyzed by attempting to answer two questions that were repeatedly put to the Commission, both before and during the on-site observation:
i) Why doesn’t the Commission investigate terrorist acts? In other words, why is it that the Commission concerns itself exclusively with actions attributable to governments, and
ii) To what extent does the Commission take terrorism and subversion into account when assessing the conduct of governments as regards the observance of human rights?
a) The lack of jurisdiction of the IACHR to investigate acts imputed to
terrorists groups or subversive organizations
3. The simple and legally precise answer to the first question is that the sovereign states of the Organization of American States have not chosen to give the Commission jurisdiction to investigate terrorism and subversion.
Obviously the Commission on its own is not competent to establish its statutory norms in accordance with the changing preferences of its members. Its basic structure, including, of course, its functions and powers, are determined by the norms which the member states of the OAS have agreed to establish. Even the most cursory review of these norms reveals that the task of the Commission—as, in general, that of all other intergovernmental bodies set up for the protection of human rights—is to investigate only those actions imputable to governments.
Juridical considerations, however, are not the only consideration. The practical consequences, were the Commission to investigate terrorist or subversive activities, would be truly serious. In effect, if the Commission, in violation of its mandate, were to agree to process a denunciation involving some alleged act of terrorism, in so doing it would implicitly place terrorist organizations on an equal footing with governments, as the Commission would have to transmit the denunciation to the subversive organization which allegedly is responsible for the act and request that it make such observations as it deems appropriate. Undoubtedly, such organization would be very pleased to be dealt with as if it were a government. But, what government in the hemisphere could tolerate an implicit recognition of quasi-governmental status for an organization of this kind?
In many instances, it has been the strategy of the subversives not just to acknowledge but also to openly boast of their terrorist acts. If responsibility for the act has been acknowledged already, for the Commission formally to attribute responsibility to the terrorists would serve no purpose other than that of further publicizing their actions.
In summary, those who attack the Commission for not accepting denunciations concerning terrorist acts committed by subversive groups, not only ignore the legal norms applicable to bodies such as the IACHR, but also implicitly seek to elevate the international status of such groups and to help spread their propaganda.
On the other hand, it is not the Commission’s role to substitute for the State in investigating and punishing violations committed by individuals. However, it falls to the Commission to protect individuals whose rights have been injured by agents or organs of the State. The ultimate reason for international bodies to protect human rights, as in the case of the IACHR, lies in the need to have means of recourse when human rights have been violated by state agents or organs.
Further, it is the sense of the Commission that its cooperation in the campaign against terrorism consists in faithfully carrying out the function assigned to it, that is, in promoting the effective observance of human rights on the part of governments, since, as experience has demonstrated, in countries where governments fulfill their obligations of promoting economic and social development, and maintain public order without violating human rights, terrorist groups never encounter massive popular support and their fate, inevitably, is to fail.
b) The limits of the State’s repressive actions
4. The Commission now wishes to address the second question. Do the existence of terrorists and the threats to subvert the public order influence the Commission’s assessments or evaluations with respect to the observance of human rights in a given country? Within the limits to be described below the obvious answer is yes.
The Commission repeatedly has emphasized the obligation of governments to maintain public order and preserve the safety of their inhabitants. To the end, governments must energetically prevent and repress acts of violence, whether they be committed by public officials or private individuals, and regardless of whether their motivation may be considered political or not.
In the life of any nation, threats to the public order or to the personal safety of its inhabitants, by persons or groups that use violence, can reach such proportions that it becomes necessary, temporarily, to suspend the exercise of certain human rights.
The majority of the constitutions of the American States accept such limitations, and even provide for the temporary institution of states of emergency or states of siege in such circumstances. Of course, in order for such measures to be adopted, extremely serious circumstances must intervene, as the institution of such regimes must be in response to the necessity of preserving those rights and freedoms which have been threatened by the disturbance of the public order and personal safety.
However, it is equally clear that certain fundamental rights can never be suspended, as is the case, among others, of the right to life, the right to personal safety, or the right to due process. In other words, under no circumstances may governments employ summary execution, torture, inhumane conditions of detention, or the denial of certain minimum conditions of justice as the means to restore public order. These measures are proscribed in constitutions and in international instruments, both at the regional and at the global level.20
In this regard, it is important to recall the words spoken by His Holiness Pope John Paul II at the OAS on October 6, 1979. After acknowledging that at times special measures may be adopted, he added the following:
...they never, never justify an attack on the inviolably dignity of the human person and on the authentic rights that protect this dignity. If certain ideologies and certain ways of interpreting the legitimate concern for national security were to result in subjugating man and his rights and dignities to the State, they would to that extend cease to be humane and would be unable, without gross deception, to claim any Christian reference. In the thinking of the Church it is a fundamental principle that social organization is at the service of man, not vice versa. That hold true also at the highest levels of society, where the power of coercion is wielded and where abuses, when they occur, are particularly serious. Furthermore, a kind of security with which people do not identify, because it does not protect them in their very humanity, is only a farce; as it grows more and more rigid, it will show symptoms of growing weakness and rapidly approaching ruin.
Each government that confronts a subversive threat must choose, on the one hand, the path of respect for the rule of law, or, on the other hand, the descent into state terrorism. When a government enjoys broad popular support, the choice of the first method will always be successful, as various countries have demonstrated both in the distant and more recent past.
As has already been pointed out, respect for the rule of law does not preclude, under certain circumstances, the adoption of extraordinary measures. When the emergency situation is truly serious, certain restrictions may be imposed, for example, on the freedom of information, or limitations on the right of association, within the framework established in the constitution. In more extreme cases, persons may be detained for short periods without it being necessary to bring specific charges against them. It is true that such measures can ultimately pose the risk that the rule of law will be lost; but that is not inevitable provided that governments act responsibly; if they register arrests and inform the families of the detainees of the detentions; if they issue strict orders prohibiting torture; if they carefully recruit and train security forces, weeding out sadists and psychopaths; and lastly, if there is an independent Judiciary to swiftly correct any abuse of authority.
The Constitution of 1853 was amended in 1860, in 1866 and in
1898. During this century it was amended in 1949, 1957 and in 1972.
Article 5 of the Constitution states that each province shall
adopt its own local Constitution under the republican representative
system, in accordance with the principles, declarations, and
guarantees of the federal Constitution. A similar provision is made
in Article 106, which states that the federal Government may
intervene in the territory of the provinces in order to guarantee
the republican form of government.
The observations made with regard to the Legislative power
are based on Articles 36, 37, 46, 67 and 68 of the Constitution,
with the appropriate amendments as contained in the Fundamental
Statute of August 24, 1972.
These aspects of the Executive power appear in Articles 23,
74, 75, 77, 78, 81, and 86 of the Constitution.
Those aspects concerning the judicial power appear in
Articles 86, 94, 95, and 100 of the Constitution.
The Act for the National Reorganization Process and the
Proclamation were adopted on March 24, 1976. The Act was published
on March 29, 1976.
In the Statute for the National Reorganization Process the
Military Junta establishes a number of provisions, “in exercise of
the constituent power.”
The statute for the National Reorganization Process was
adopted on March 26, 1976, and published on March 31 of that same
year. This Statute was amended on January 11, 1979, with respect to
the absence, leave or illness of the President. Likewise, as regards
the structure of the Government, regulations were issued to govern
the functioning of the Military Junta, the Executive, and the
Committee for Legislative Consultation, which have undergone
subsequent partial modification.
In accordance with the statute, the Military Junta shall
exercise the powers which Articles 67 and 86 of the Constitution
grant to the Congress and to the Executive. Further, the President,
appointed by the Junta, shall have the powers established in Article
86 of the Constitution and the legislative powers which the
Constitution grants to the Congress, including those that are
exclusive to each one of the Chambers. Further, both the Military
Junta and the President are given the power to appoint judicial
officials of various ranks.
Articles 1, 22, and 33 of the Constitution of 1853.
Articles 8, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23 and 32 of the
Constitution of 1853.
That decree states the following:
measures adopted to date by the Government for subversive elements
to change their posture and incorporate themselves into the National
Reconstruction Process and
repeated repudiation and recommendations made to that effect by
political, religious, economic and social organizations and sectors
in the country, are not merely not echoed but have become stronger,
with threats directed even against school age children, and
one essential duty of the Argentine State is to preserve life,
peace, and welfare in all homes;
in the exercise of its power, the Argentine State must vigorously
eradicate manifestations of a pathological barbarity which has been
unleashed as part of a treacherous and criminal terrorist plan
against the entire Nation;
the adoption of exceptional preventive measures is in order to
guarantee all families their natural and sacred right to live in
accordance with our traditional and established customs;
the spread of the terrorist attacks, which are repugnant to all
Argentines without exception, makes it necessary to organize all
forms of defense and repression against new and repeated
manifestations of violence which prevent the realization of
Argentine power and a peaceful revolution;
and in accordance with the provisions of Article 86, paragraph 19,
of the Constitution, THE PRESIDENT OF ARGENTINA, IN GENERAL ACCORD
WITH THE MINISTERS, DECREES THE FOLLOWING:
1. To declare Argentina to be under a state of siege as of the
date of the present Decree.
2. Let the Honorable Congress of the Nation be advised, let this
be published and sent to the National Bureau of Official Records and
In communiqué Nº 2, dated March 24, 1976, the
Military Junta referred to the validity of that part of Article 23
of the Constitution concerning the right of option to leave the
country; on March 29, that communiqué was supplemented by
Law Nº 21.275, which provided the following: “All outstanding
requests to opt to leave the country are automatically declared null
and void, regardless of the stage of processing.” Article 23
provides that constitutional guarantees are suspended during a state
of siege; during that period of suspension the President shall not
convict or punish upon his own authority; in such a case, his power
shall be limited to arresting or transferring persons from one point
of the Nation to another, if they do not prefer to leave Argentine
The Act in question also specifies the following grounds:
serious negligence in the exercise of a public, political, or union
office or activities that involve the public interest; failure to
complete a mandate in the public or social interest; actions or
omissions that have facilitated disruptive subversion; tolerance of
administrative corruption or the negligence that makes it possible.
The Military Junta assumes the power to determine who is involved in
such actions and the power to apply the following sanctions: a) loss
of political or union rights; b) loss of citizenship for naturalized
Argentines; c) expulsion of foreigners and naturalized Argentines;
d) disqualification from holding office, jobs and public
appointments and from serving in honorary posts; e) confinement as
determined by the Executive (PEN), during which time restrictions
are imposed against administering and disposing of goods until such
time as the legitimacy of their acquisition is proven, and
restrictions against practicing one’s profession. The application
of these measures, according to Article 4 of the Act, shall not
prevent the trial or sentencing of those allegedly responsible.
Law 21.670, of October 19, 1977, sets forth the regulations
pursuant the Acts of June 18, 1976 and February 3, 1977, on
restrictions and disqualification for administering and disposing of
capital assets. The National Committee on Assets Liability was
created through Decree Nº 3245 of October 21, 1977, to apply Law
21.670. Since June 18, 1976, a number of resolutions have been
passed which have affected a considerable number of natural and
juridical persons where capital assets are concerned.
Since the date of the military takeover, the following
provisions have been adopted, among others: The Act for the National
Reorganization Process, March 24, 1976, whereby the elected and
appointed civil authorities were replaced; the activity of political
and union organization at various levels and of various kinds was
suspended; decrees were issued to implement such measures, part of
Article 23 of the Constitution (which sets forth the right to leave
the country under a state of siege) was declared full and void.
Moreover, in March 1976, laws were enacted on the expulsion of
foreigners, suspension of the right to strike, repeal of legislation
on behalf of professional associations; establishment of periods of
imprisonment from 10 years up to an unspecified period, and the
death penalty; establishment of the competence of the Special
Standing Military Tribunals and of the summary proceedings contained
in the Code of Military Justice for certain crimes,, prohibition of
the activities of various political groups; Law 21.272 which
imposes severe penalties on those who commit violations against
military, police, security and penitentiary personnel, for a period
of confinement from 15 years to an indefinite period of time or the
death penalty; Law 21.275 which automatically declares null
and void all outstanding applications to leave the country; Law
21.274 whereby civil service personnel were removed, as ordered
by the Military Junta and by other high-ranking government
authorities; Law 21.276 on prohibiting certain activities
within universities. In April, the Code of Criminal Procedure was
amended so as to affect the provisions related to release, freedom
on bail and exemption from imprisonment; certain political and union
organizations were declared illegal and dissolved, their premises
were closed and their property confiscated; Law 21.323
established prison sentences for those who violate the provisions
concerning the suspension of political parties. In June of 1976: Law
23.325 which expands upon the dissolution of political entities
as well as the penalties for those who violate those provisions; Law
21.338 which amends the Penal Code and impose the death penalty
for illegal association and crimes classified as subversive; Act Nº
5 mentioned earlier, to consider the conduct of individuals held
responsible for injuring the national interest, was applied to
various resolutions. In the months of September, October and
November, 1976: Law 21.400 which established the suspension
of measures of force by workers and employees; Law 21.461
which gave the Armed Forces, the Security Forces and Police the
power to investigate subversive crimes, and to interrogate, arrest
and obtain evidence for summary proceedings; Law 21.959
concerning the imposition of prison sentences and labor conflicts
that have been declared illegal. Other provisions: Laws
concerning the suspension of the right to strike, sanctions against
those who attack or jeopardize individuals and property, persons
subject to military jurisdiction, intervention of the General Labor
Confederation, the right of option, the suspension, extension and
establishment of same, the procedures for those detained at the
disposal of the Executive (PEN); the Special Standing Military
Tribunals, regulation of the Institutional Act of September 1, 1977,
amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code and the Military Code of
Justice; Military Tribunals; Prison System; Law 21.313 which
extends the jurisdiction of the national judges to include places
where individuals at the disposal of the Executive are being held; Law
21.766 which amends the Penal Code. Decrees concerning
the appointment of inspectors in provinces and in other territories;
prohibition of the activities of specifically designated union
organizations; intervention of the General Economic Liability. Instructions
to the Military Commands on the detention of individuals; and
legislative powers granted to the governors of the provinces. “Communiqués”
on press crimes. Special provisions to prohibit publication
of news on subversive activities. Statutes that grant privileges and
immunities to the provincial governors. Resolutions on the
conduct of individuals considered responsible for injuring the
national interest; sanctions against natural persons and
disqualification of juridical persons.
Argentina has signed, ratified or approved, among others, the
following international human rights instruments: 1. Convention on
the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, December 9,
1948; 2. Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the
Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery,
September 7, 1956; 3. Convention for the Suppression of Traffic in
Persons and of the Exploitation and Prostitution of Others, March
21, 1950; 4. ILO Convention Nº 29 concerning forced labor, 1930; 5.
ILO Convention Nº 105, concerning the abolition of forced labor,
June 25, 1957; 6. Convention relating to the status of stateless
persons, September 28, 1954; 7. Convention concerning the status of
refugees, July 28, 1951; 8. Protocol relating to the status of
refugees, January 31, 1967; 9. ILO Convention Nº 87 concerning
freedom of association and protection of the right to organize, July
9, 1948; 10. ILO Convention Nº 98 concerning the application of the
principles of the right to organize and bargain collectively, July
1, 1949; 11. Convention on the Political Rights of Women, March 31,
1953; 12. Convention on the Nationality of Married Women, February
20, 1957; 13. Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for
Marriage and Registration of Marriages, December 10, 1962; 14.
Inter-American Convention on the Granting of Political Rights to
Women, May 2, 1948; 15. Inter-American Convention on the Granting of
Civil Rights to Women, May 2, 1948; 16. The Convention of American
States on the Nationality of Women, December 26, 1933; 17. Geneva
Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and
Sick Members of the Armed Forces at Sea, August 12, 1949; 18. Geneva
Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded,
Sick and Shipwrecked Members of the Armed Forces at Sea, August 12,
1949; 19. Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of prisoners
of War, August 12, 1949; 20. Geneva Convention relative to the
Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, August 12, 1949; 21.
International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial
Discrimination, December 21, 1965; 22. ILO Convention Nº 100
concerning equal remuneration for men and women workers for work of
equal value, June 29, 1951; 23. UNESCO Convention against
discrimination in education, December 14, 1960; 24. Protocol
instituting a conciliation and mediation committee to settle
disputes that arise between States Parties to the UNESCO Convention
against discrimination in education, December 10, 1962; 25. ILO
Convention Nº 111 concerning discrimination in respect of
employment and occupation, June 25, 1958.
El terrorismo en la Argentina. Published by the
Executive branch, September 1979.
Among the many examples of terrorists activities perpetrated
by organizations from both the extreme left and the extreme right,
are the following: the kidnapping and assassination of the former
President of Argentina, Lieutenant General Pedro E. Aramburú,
seized May 29, and executed on June 1, 1970; the assassination of
labor leader José Alonso, in August 1970; the kidnapping and murder
of Dr. Oberdam Sallustro, a leading Argentine industrialist and
Director General of FIAT Concord, on March 21, 1972; the
assassination of General Juan Carlos Sánchez, Commander of Army
Corps II, on April 10, 1972; the murder of labor leader José
Ignacio Rucci, Secretary General of the Confederation of Labor in an
ambush by a group of extremists who riddled him with bullets on
September 25, 1973; the assault on the Army Health Command on
September 6, 1973, during which Lieutenant Colonel Raúl J. Duarte
Ardoy, Second Chief of Regiment 1 of Patricios Infantry, lost his
life; the shooting, on a public street and in the presence of many
witnesses, of Rear Admiral Hermes J. Quijado, by two individuals on
a motorcycle; the murder of a priest, Carlos Mugica, in May 1974;
the murder of political leaders of professional and social
organizations, Rodolfo Ortega Peña, Emilio Pierini, Pablo Laguzzi
(son of the Rector of the University of Buenos Aires), Alfredo
Curuchet, José Luis Mendiburu, Carlos Alberto Miguel, Rodolfo
Achen, Pedro Leopoldo Barraza, Carlos Llerenas Rozig and various
others, by an ultra rightist terrorist organization known as the AAA
(Tripe A), in 1974; the assassination of Arturo Mor Roig, former
Minister of the Interior under the Government of General Lanusse, on
July 15, 1974, by 6 individuals as he was lunching in a restaurant;
the murder of an attorney and university professor, Silvio Frondizi,
on September 26, 1974; the assassination of Lt. Col. Julio A.
Larrabure, captured and taken hostage in August 1974 by an extremist
commando unit that attacked and sacked the military gunpowder and
explosives factory at Córdoba and that killed Larrabure one year
later, in August 1975; the assassination of the Chief of the Federal
Police, Deputy General Alberto Villar and of his wife, Elsa María Pérez
de Villar, as they were boating on the Tigre River; the
assassination of Captain Humberto A. Viola in the doorway of his
parents’ home where he had taken his family; also killed in that
same attack was his three-year old daughter, while another daughter
was left in a coma; the kidnapping and assassination of the United
States Consul, John Patrick Egan, by the Montoneros of Córdoba,
which executed the diplomat by firing squad on February 19, 1975; an
attack in Tucumán against the Air Force plane Hercules, on August
28, 1975, during which 4 persons died and 25 other were seriously
injured; in the city of Formosa, the simultaneous attack on the 29th
Regiment of the Mounted Infantry, the skyjacking of an Aerolíneas
Argentinas plane and an attack on Penitentiary Unit Nº 10 to free
terrorists being held there—events which caused the loss of many
lives both of subversives and members of the military; the
assassination of General Jorge Cáceres Monie and of his wife on
December 3, 1975; the attack on the Military arsenal of Batallion
601; the assassination of Col. Rafael H. Reyes, Chief of the Air
Defense Artillery Group headquartered at Camet, on February 11,
1976, in Mar del Plata; the murder of General Cardozo, Chief of the
Argentine Federal Police, at his own residence, by the placing of a
hidden bomb under his bed by a friend and schoolmate of the
victim’s daughter; an explosion in the dining hall of the
Superintendent’s Office of Federal Security at a time when it was
crowded with officials and guests who were there to have lunch,
killing 18 individuals and seriously injuring another 66; the
explosion of a bomb in the office of the Deputy Secretary for
Planning of the Ministry of Defense on December 15, 1976, killing 14
high ranking officials and civilian personnel and leaving 18
wounded; a criminal attack against Vice Admiral D. Armando
Lambruschini on August 1, 1978, by the placing of a powerful bomb
which almost destroyed two buildings and which caused the death of
one of the Vice Admiral’s daughters on September 27, 1978; the
attack perpetrated against the family of Guillermo Walter Klein,
current Secretary of Coordination and Economic Programming, through
the use of powerful explosives that destroyed his residence, wounded
him and his family and caused the death of two policemen who were
guarding the house; and the murder, on November 13, 1979, in
downtown Buenos Aires, of businessman Francisco Soldati and his
chauffeur, Ricardo Durán, who were shot dead by an armed group of
In the case of external or internal armed conflicts, the
Geneva Convention of 1949 establishes minimum standards for the
treatment of prisoners, which prohibit their being killed or