The trials against former military and police officers accused of human rights violations during the 1976-83 dictatorship will remain a priority for Argentina through 2020 after the national government committed to a formal action plan on human rights.
With his signature on the document to be presented today at Government House, President Mauricio Macri has committed his government to five key areas: trials for human rights violations during the dictatorship; inclusion, non discrimination and equality; public safety and non-violence; truth, justice and reparations; universal access to rights and civic culture and a general commitment to human rights.
The plan is largely symbolic but an important public expression of values nonetheless given the Human Rights Secretariat’s long-running standoff with human rights groups over the defunding of projects and its perceived passivity toward other government portfolios like Security, which the same rights groups accuse of complicity in acts of repression including in the events surrounding the deaths of Rafael Nahuel and Santiago Maldonado.
The national government is generally perceived as having lacked credibility in the area of human rights since the early days of 2016 when recently-elected Macri refused to meet with Estela de Carlotto, the president of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, to discuss the continuation of the trails against the perpetrators of dictatorship-era crimes.
Macri did eventually meet Carlotto and other moderate rights leaders, though shortly after he reiterated to a visiting international journalist one of his long-held and controversial opinions about human rights as having become a “racket” under former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Another particular sore point for human rights groups was Justice Minister Germán Garavano's low-key April 2016 meeting with relatives of detained former police and military officers including Cecilia Pando who is known to stalk and harass dictatorship-era victims and relatives at trials and other public events.
More broadly in human rights, the government has come under fire for disregarding rulings from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for the release of controversial Tupac Amaru leader Milagros Sala, who has been held without trial on security grounds either in prison or home detention. And over a perceived increase in police heavy-handedness, including and especially on the part of the national security force Gendarmarie.
The “First National Action Plan for Human Rights (2017-2020)” will be presented today at an event in Government House by Macri, Garavano and Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj.