• Sheet of paper Report

Annual Report: Argentina 2011

June 30, 2011

Head of state and government: Cristina Fernández
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 40.7 million
Life expectancy: 75.7 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 17/14 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 97.7 per cent

Women and girls who were pregnant as a result of rape continued to face major obstacles in getting access to legal abortions. Excessive use of force by the police and inhumane prison conditions remained serious concerns. Legal proceedings against those responsible for past human rights violations during the military regimes continued.


In June, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. In July, President Cristina Fernández passed a decree to implement legislation passed in 2009 to prevent and punish violence against women. In December, following a process of national consultation, a National Human Rights Plan was made public.

Sexual and reproductive rights

The CEDAW Committee and the UN Human Rights Committee called on Argentina to amend legislation criminalizing abortion in some cases. Misinterpretation of the Criminal Code resulted in pregnant rape survivors facing serious obstacles in getting legal abortions. The status of the long-awaited Guide for the Integral Attention of Non-Punishable Abortion Cases was put in doubt and there were concerns that the lack of clear institutional guidelines on abortion would continue.

  • In March, two 15-year-old girls from the southern province of Chubut, both of whom had allegedly been raped by their stepfathers, were denied legal abortions by two different judges, causing delays and endangering their lives. Both judicial decisions were subsequently overturned.

Torture and other ill-treatment

The UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed serious concerns at reports of torture and other ill-treatment in prisons and police stations, particularly in Buenos Aires and Mendoza provinces. In January, a Provincial Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture was approved by legislators in Chaco province. However, a similar national mechanism, which is required under the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, had still not been put in place by the end of the year.

Police and security forces

Excessive use of force by security forces leading to injury and deaths was reported. In separate incidents in June and October, two teenage boys were shot dead by police officers in Río Negro province.

  • On 15 February, police violently broke up a protest by residents in the town of Andalgalá, Catamarca province, against open-pit mining in the area. A few hours later, thousands of people gathered in the local square in solidarity with the protesters. The security forces allegedly responded by beating demonstrators with truncheons and firing tear gas and rubber bullets indiscriminately. During the incidents, some protesters also damaged the local municipal building. Several people were arrested and around 70 people were injured.


According to official data, by the end of the year, 110 people had been convicted for their role in human rights violations committed under the military regimes of the past; 820 more were facing criminal charges; and 13 trials were continuing. Despite progress in bringing to justice perpetrators of past human rights violations, a report by the Supreme Court admitted that there had been some delays, in particular in provincial courts.

  • On 20 April, Reynaldo Bignone, a former military general and former de facto President, was found guilty of torture, murder and several kidnappings that occurred while he was commander of the notorious Campo de Mayo detention centre between 1976 and 1978.
  • In July, former General Luciano Benjamín Menéndez and Roberto Albornoz, former head of the intelligence police, were sentenced to life imprisonment for human rights violations committed at a secret detention centre in Tucumán province during the military regime (1976-1983).
  • In December, Jorge Videla, de facto President of Argentina between 1976 and 1981, was found criminally responsible for the torture and deaths of over 30 prisoners in Córdoba in 1976. The court found a further 22 military and police officers guilty of these crimes.

Indigenous Peoples’ rights

Concerns remained at the failure to implement the 2006 national emergency law which temporarily suspends the execution of eviction orders or the removal of Indigenous communities from traditional lands until an appropriate nationwide survey has been carried out.

  • In November, 400 police officers violently dispersed members of the Toba Qom Indigenous community who had mounted a roadblock in protest at plans to build a university on traditional lands. The police also burned down the community’s temporary homes. At least one police officer and one member of the Indigenous community were killed.

Right to health – land and environment

An NGO report published in early 2010 identified 120 land-ownership and environment-related conflicts in the Chaco area of northern Argentina, affecting over half a million people, mainly from peasant and Indigenous communities.

Despite growing evidence of the negative impact on health of chemicals used on soya and rice plantations in several northern provinces, by the end of the year no systematic epidemiological study or investigation had been initiated to evaluate the extent and gravity of the problem.

International justice

In September, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favour of the extradition of Sergio Galvarino Apablaza Guerra to Chile where he faced charges in connection with the murder of Senator Jaime Guzmán and the kidnapping of Cristián Edwards in 1991. However, in October, a federal judge closed the case for his extradition after the National Commission for Refugees granted him refugee status.