1) Abuses by authorities in Mendoza province; 2) attacks against or harassment of those advocating prosecution of "dirty-war" criminals and opposing their pardon; 3) abuses against trade unionists and possibility of redress from the government for abuses. [ARG9368]

The following information and attached documents supplement the two recent Question and Answer papers on Argentina prepared by the IRBDC (the latest one currently being amended) and reports available at all regional Documentation Centres, such as the U.S. Department of State Country Reports, their corresponding Critiques and the IRBDC weekly press reviews. The attached documents refer mostly to 1991 events.
1) Specific references to recent (1990-1991) abuses by authorities in Mendoza province could not be found among the sources currently available to the IRBDC.
However, cases of abuse by authorities in Argentina in general have been reported for many years. Police and security forces have been accused of routinely using torture during pre-trial detention (Lawyers Committee 1990, 13). The New York-based Lawyers Committee for Human Rights reports that police abuses are difficult to correct because "the police often threaten to kill anyone reporting police mistreatment" (Ibid., 12).
Another source reports that in many areas of Argentina the perpetrators of abuses during the "dirty war" have continued to be members of the police force and have continued to commit abuses (ICCHRLA 1989, 13). The source also states that witnesses to police abuses are harassed or killed (Ibid.). For example, in late-1990 a policeman who had been involved in serious abuses during the "dirty war" and continued to be in service was accused of torturing two detained suspects. The judge investigating the policeman received anonymous death threats and his career was threatened by a deputy of the National Assembly (Sunday Times 14 Oct. 1990).
Various reports state that corruption is spreading through all levels of society, including the judiciary, with reported cases of extortion being carried out by judges in complicity with police. However, most reports originate from Buenos Aires, where a large portion of the Argentine population and most of the Argentine and foreign press agencies are concentrated.
2) The IRBDC could not obtain a complete list of the organized groups of Argentina that demanded the prosecution of army members for crimes committed during the "dirty war" or protested their pardon. The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, however, states that all known human rights organizations and all prominent human rights leaders objected to the laws which were passed by the Alfonsín administration under military pressure to restrain the prosecution of military personnel who committed crimes during the "dirty war" (Lawyers Committee 1988, 10). Another source states that demonstrations protesting the pardons reportedly included the participation of some 150,000 people in Buenos Aires, including numerous Peronist Party members, and 50,000 people in other major cities (ICCHRLA 1990, 16).
A 1989 article reports that a demonstration to protest the pardons "was called by the Izquierda Unida (United Left) coalition and human rights organizations" who were joined by the Unión Cívica Radical (UCR) party (Latinamerica Press 28 Sept. 1989). One report of a March 1990 demonstration against the impunity of perpetrators of abuses during the "dirty war" lists the groups of participants as follows:
The original human rights organizations are Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (founding line), Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (APDH), the Ecumenical Movement for Human Rights, Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the League for the Rights of Man and the Peace and Justice Service (SERPAJ). Later the other line of Mothers, the Association of ex-Detainees and Missing People, the Argentine League for the Rights of Man and the Jewish Movement for Human Rights joined in, together with 12 political parties and numerous groups of students, workers and social movements. (Buenos Aires Herald 16 Mar. 1990)
The attached sections from the books by Amnesty International and Americas Watch (Argentina: The Military Juntas and Human Rights and Truth and Partial justice in Argentina, respectively) report attacks and intimidation of people involved in the process of investigating human rights abuses during the "dirty war." The magazine Index on Censorship reported in 1985 that over 400 attacks against students, trade unionists and lawyers were accounted by human rights organizations in 1984. Harassment and attacks reportedly seemed "designed to obstruct investigations into past human rights violations", its main targets being members of the commission appointed to investigate those violations and prepare the "Nunca M s" report (Index on Censorship May 1985). The attacks included bombing of homes or offices of delegates of the commission in at least three cities (Ibid.).
The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights stated in 1988 that "since 1983, all threats and acts of violence against the [Alfonsín] government and against human rights organizations have come from supporters of the military dictatorship" (Lawyers Committee 1988, 12). As described below, more recent acts of violence have also been linked to a neo-nazi organization and other unidentified groups.
The Lawyers Committee has later reported bombings and threats against judges who questioned the presidential pardons of officials involved in human rights abuses (Lawyers Committee 1990, 14). At least two federal prosecutors who challenged the constitutionality of the pardons were subject to disciplinary proceedings and the house of a judge was bombed, killing his son (Ibid.).
An updated version of the Americas Watch book states that in late-1990, after those convicted of human rights abuses during the "dirty war" had been freed, the only person facing prosecution for alleged abuses during that period was a human rights monitor that had denounced the former (Americas Watch 1991, 67).
According to information recently provided to the IRBDC by the Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos (APDH) of Argentina (8 July 1991), some recent incidents show an increasing "official hostility" towards the human rights movement in Argentina. Among them, the laying of charges against the president of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo Association. The charges followed Carlos Menem's accusation of contempt of authority (desacato) by the Madres' president, after she made critical remarks of Menem's government while she was on a tour outside Argentina. Various members of her Association have received anonymous death threats. Although the offices of the Association have been broken into and robbed a number of times, the police have not taken action to investigate the crimes (Ibid.). The APDH is not aware of any other human rights organization or political party facing major problems at the time.
A number of violent incidents have been reported during the first half of 1991. These include bombings, vandalism and threats against Jewish property and figures that have been attributed to a neo-nazi organization. The leader of the neo-nazis has reportedly spent some months in jail before and is currently facing different charges, although officials in charge of investigating his group's participation in different acts have received anonymous death threats (Latinamerica Press 13 june 1991).
Other authorities that have recently received death threats include two judges involved in the trials of the "carapintadas" military officers who rebelled in December 1990. One of the judges' house was reportedly sprayed with bullets from a passing car in June 1991 (Southern Cone Report Aug. 1991, 2).
Attacks have also been reported against news agencies and newspapers and threats have been made against journalists. In most of such recent cases reported among the available sources, the victims had been critical of President Menem and/or people in government. Two related incidents that have received particular coverage are those of a famous film director and the leader of the human rights group Madres de la Plaza de Mayo.
As indicated in the attached reports, a film director was summoned by a court after he denounced corruption among people close to President Menem. Immediately after his court appearance, he was wounded by gunmen who passed by in a car and reportedly told him to stop speaking out (FBIS-LAT-91-101). Despite testimony to the contrary, the police claimed that the motive of the attack was robbery. Later, the Interior Ministry declared it was unable to investigate the incident (FBIS-LAT-91-111, 28). One of the threats made against the leader of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo was reportedly made two hours before the shooting of the film director, and the threat made a reference to the way the director was to be shot (The Ottawa Citizen 24 May 1991, D7).
The attached reports show political violence has reached former President Alfonsín, who became the victim of a killing attempt by an ex-border policeman and two unidentified accomplices in early-1991 (FBIS-LAT-91-037). Alfonsín has also recently faced charges by a judge who accused him of contempt of court (FBIS-LAT-91-125, 24).
Violence between Peronist militants was reported recently during a campaign for the election of party representatives. A number of armed confrontations resulted in gunfire and some casualties among supporters of different Peronist factions (FBIS-LAT-91-143, 23).
3) Regarding abuses against trade unionists, few recent reports could be found among the available sources. Bomb attacks against the homes of two members of a railway union who decided not to continue a strike were reported. A speaker of the union, however, denied any involvement in the incident by his organization (FBIS-LAT-91-060, 18-19). The same report states that President Menem had given "precise instructions to punish workers still backing the six-week-long walkout" (Ibid.).
The leader of a trade union reportedly resigned after accusing the leadership of the umbrella organization to which it was affiliated of "crooked deals" with government supporters (FBIS-LAT-91-114, 28). However, the actual reasons for her resignation are not indicated in the available documents.
The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights states that "the union hierarchy lacks elemental democracy and obstructs possibilities for independent union representation", while noting the existence of "stringent membership requirements for legalizing alternative trade unions" (Lawyers Committee 1990, 15). Various recent reports also indicate that the government has passed legislation limiting the right to strike and facilitated government action against striking workers. Police have been used for breaking up demonstrations, including a march by old-age pensioners (Sunday Times 18 Mar. 1990).
Regarding the possibility of obtaining redress from authorities' abuses and fair trials in Argentina, some courts received international praise during the Alfonsín administration for their sanctioning of military and police abuses. However, processes were reportedly jeopardized sometimes by intimidation of witnesses and charges laid against them by judges who were sympathetic to the military (Americas Watch 1987, 74).
More recently, the judiciary's independence and ability to prosecute cases involving authorities has been questioned. This, as indicated in the attached documents, is in part a result of presidential appointments, corruption, intimidation and pressure from military and political sectors. In addition to the information provided in the first pages of this response, please consult the attached copies of the April 1991 Truth and Partial Justice in Argentina: An Update and the July 1991 Critique of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights which question the independence of the judiciary. Pages 70-71 and 80-84 ("Attacks on the Independence of the Judiciary") of Truth and Partial Justice in Argentina: An Update include a discussion of the recent obstacles to seeking redress for abuses committed during the military dictatorship and recent events affecting the administration of justice. An event related to an issue discussed in the latter report is the recent appointment by the President of a federal trustee to take over the judiciary in the province of Catamarca. The measure is reported to be "widely attributed to pressure from the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, Terence Todman" (Southern Cone Report May 1991, 2). The latest Question and Answer paper on the subject prepared by the IRBDC, currently being amended, also deals with the subject of administration of justice.

Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos (APDH) of Argentina, Buenos Aires. 8 July 1991. Written response to an IRBDC inquiry.

Americas Watch. August 1987. Truth and Partial Justice in Argentina. Washington, D.C./New York: Americas Watch.

FBIS-LAT-91-143. 25 July 1991. "Violence Marks Battle for Justicialist Leadership" in Buenos Aires Herald [Buenos Aires], 24 July 1991.

FBIS-LAT-91-125. 28 June 1991. "Judge Orders Former President Alfonsín Arrested" in Buenos Aires Argentina Televisora [Buenos Aires, in Spanish], 27 June 1991.

FBIS-LAT-91-114. 13 June 1991. "Leader of Teachers Union Resigns Post" in Buenos Aires Herald [Buenos Aires], 12 June 1991.

FBIS-LAT-91-111. 10 June 1991. "Minister Says `Unable to Investigate' Shooting" in Buenos Aires Herald [Buenos Aires], 5 June 1991.

FBIS-LAT-91-101. 24 May 1991. "Menem Critic Wounded; Another Reports Threats" in Buenos Aires Herald [Buenos Aires], 23 May 1991.

FBIS-LAT-91-060. 28 March 1991. "Strike Situation Wrap-Up" in Buenos Aires Herald [Buenos Aires], 26 March 1991.

FBIS-LAT-90-053. 19 March 1990. "Human Rights Groups, Others Organize March - Protest Hunger, Repression" in Buenos Aires Herald [Buenos Aires], 16 March 1990.

FBIS-LAT-91-037. 25 February 1991. "Alfonsín on Assassination Attempt; More Details" in EFE [Madrid], 24 February 1991.

Inter-Church Committee on Human Rights in Latin America - ICCHRLA. February 1990. ICCHRLA 1989 Annual Reports - General Concerns and Brief Country Reports. Toronto: ICCHRLA.

January 1989. ICCHRLA 1988 Annual Reports - General Concerns and Brief Country Reports. Toronto: ICCHRLA.

Index on Censorship [London, U.K.]. May 1985. "Argentina: Nunca M s."

Latinamerica Press [Lima]. 28 September 1989. "Argentina: Military Pardons Spark Huge Demonstration."

_____.13 June 1991. "Argentina: Neo-Nazis Seek Legitimacy."

The Ottawa Citizen. 24 May 1991. "Argentine Film Director Wounded by Gunmen." P. D7.

The Sunday Times [London, U.K.]. 14 October 1990. "Argentine Police `Torturer' Enjoys Status of a Hero."

_____.18 March 1990. "Domestic Dilemma Piles the Pressure on Menem."

Southern Cone Report [London, U.K.]. May 1991. "Menem Declares War on Traffickers." August 1991. "Judges Threatened."