The Human Rights Actions Network
Derechos Human Rights
Jan. 31, 1998 Updated March 6, 1998
In late March, the Argentine congress will begin to consider two bills that would anull the laws of Due Obedience and Punto Final passed in Argentina during the Alfonsin government, as well as the pardons granted by President Menem on behalf of the top military chiefs guilty of grave crimes against humanity during the military dictatorship in Argentina. Derechos urges people from all over the world to raise their voice for justice and against human rights violations, to give their support to these bills and take the first step to ending impunity in Argentina.
During the 1970s, the Argentine armed forces carried out a dirty war against the population of the country. An estimated 30,000 people were disappeared (kidnaped, kept in concentration camps, tortured and then executed) while thousands more were tortured and illegally imprisoned. After democracy returned to Argentina, those responsible for these crimes began to be prosecuted. However, facing great pressure from the military, the Argentine government passed two laws to stop such prosecutions. The Punto Final law set a short time limit for making criminal charges against alleged human rights violators, while the Due Obedience law stated that those soldiers and police who were following orders could not be punished for their crimes. Thus, only the highest leaders were tried. Most of them were found guilty of murder and other crimes. All of them were later pardoned by President Menem.
Impunity for human rights violations violates the fundamental obligation of states to protect and promote human rights. The armed forces have no incentive to respect the population when they know that they will suffer no punishment for their actions, whatever they be. Similarly, impunity gives the population the clear message that the state puts no value on their lives, their freedom and their physical integrity.
Derechos considers that the laws of Due Obedience and Punto Final have never been valid, as they violate international law as well as the human rights treaties to which Argentina is a signatory. Similarly, the pardons granted by President Menem violate his powers under the Argentine constitution. Under international law, no statute of limitation or amnesty can be applied to crimes against humanity. The laws in question, in addition, violate the rights to judicial protection and due process, as well as the obligations of the State to respect and promote the full exercise of human rights, as was established by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights when it ruled that the laws of Due Obedience and Punto Final violate the American Convention on Human Rights.
Please write to the Argentine members of Congress expressing your support for these bills that would anull the laws of Punto Final and Due Obedience and the pardons of the top military and police chiefs, and urge them to vote in favor of the bills.
These are the general addresses for different parties. Please ask that your message be copied to all the national deputies of the respective political party.
Union Civica Radical
Partido Socialista Democrático
Deputy Juan Pablo Cafiero
President Carlos Menem
The Human Rights Actions Network
Human Rights in Argentina
Derechos | Index | Contact Us | Search