The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted the precautionary measure in favor of Argentine social leader Milagro Sala, making it clear that she cannot remain in prison any longer. Sala has been arbitrarily detained since January 16, 2016, when she was arrested over a protest. The precautionary measure was requested by Amnesty International, Andhes and CELS.
On October 27, 2016, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined that Sala’s detention was arbitrary and that the Argentine state had to release her immediately.
Today the IACHR ratified that the government must comply immediately. The Commission highlighted that it “considers it pertinent to reiterate once again that, as it indicated in its press release from December 2, 2016, the Argentine state in accordance with its international obligations is obligated to heed the decision of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) of the UN that determined that the detention of Ms. Sala is arbitrary, calling for her immediate release.”
The Argentine state’s failure to comply with its international obligation to release her aggravated Milagro Sala’s situation, which is why the Commission decided to grant the measure.
In the words of the IACHR: “The Commission considers that the objective fact (that Sala) continues to be deprived of her liberty despite the pronouncement of an international body to which Argentina is a party, constitutes a possible indication that could reinforce what has been alleged by the petitioners regarding the presumptive intention to criminalize her social leadership in such a way that the continuation of this deprivation of liberty, described as ‘arbitrary,’ has a special impact on Ms. Sala’s personal integrity.”
At the same time, “the Commission has verified as specificities of the present matter, which distinguish it from others that it has considered, that the situation presented involves the detention of a prominent social leader, a woman and indigenous person, who may be in conflict with the current government of the Province, and that she may be identified with a representative part of a sector of the opposition.”
The Commission underscores that the failure to comply with the Working Group’s decision has a “special impact on Ms. Sala’s personal integrity” that continues to worsen over time. In addition, the IACHR describes a scenario of constant harassment in the context of the evolution of diverse criminal cases: the initiation of new cases, constant transfers, the initiation of legal cases without the guarantee of the right to defense, and a system of extreme surveillance, among other elements.
For these reasons, the IACHR establishes that Milagro Sala in no way can remain in prison and that it is imperative that alternative measures be afforded.
The precautionary measure ordered by the Commission, which gives the government 15 days to inform it regarding compliance with its international commitments, was granted after a visit by commissioners to the Argentine province of Jujuy and after they met with all of the parties.
Abogados y Abogadas del Noroeste Argentino en Derechos Humanos y Estudios Sociales (Andhes)
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)