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IACHR Expresses Concern over Argentine Supreme Court Decision

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern regarding an Argentine Supreme Court decision that departs from international standards for prosecuting serious human rights violations.

According to publicly available information, on May 3, 2017, the Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina decided to apply a calculation that will have the effect of appreciably reducing the prison term of a person who was convicted of crimes against humanity. In reaching its decision, the Supreme Court applied Article 7 of Law 24.390, which was in force from 1994 to 2001. It was known as "two for one" because it established that after the two years of pretrial detention allowed by law, each day spent in prison without a firm conviction could be counted as two days toward a person's sentence. The Supreme Court applied this law when it was no longer valid, since the person who benefited from this decision had been in pretrial custody as of October 1, 2007.

The IACHR expresses its dismay over the Supreme Court's interpretation and application because the benefit of its ruling applies to someone who was convicted and sentenced to prison for committing a crime against humanity.

Under international law, the obligation to prosecute and punish the perpetrators of serious human rights violations is derived from the duty of protection established in the American Convention. Crimes against humanity have a series of characteristics that make them different from other crimes because of the aims and objectives being pursued; they are based on the concept of humanity as victim. States, therefore, have an international obligation not to leave these crimes unpunished and to ensure the proportionality of the penalty. The application of the "two for one" calculation or other benefits should not serve to undermine the proportionality of the penalty for persons responsible for crimes against humanity. Its application would render inadequate the punishment that was imposed, which runs contrary to inter-American human rights standards.

The IACHR welcomes the fact that victims have made their voices heard in defense of the important progress that has been made in the fight against impunity for the serious human rights violations perpetrated during the dictatorship. The IACHR also welcomes the important work that national and international civil society organizations and human rights defenders have been doing to demand the right to the truth, justice, and reparation with regard to these grave crimes of the past, within the framework of the rule of law and a vibrant democratic society.

The IACHR takes note of the passage in Congress and promulgation of Law 27362, published in the Official Gazette on May 12, 2017. The IACHR welcomes the provision in Article 1 establishing that the "two for one" benefit "is not applicable to criminal conduct that may fall under the category of crimes against humanity, genocide, or war crimes under domestic or international law."

[Source: IACHR, Washington DC, 15May17]

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small logoThis document has been published on 18May17 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.