Milagro Sala: The risks increase as Argentina flouts the IACHR’s precautionary measure

At a working meeting convened by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), representatives of Amnesty International and CELS warned that the risks she runs have intensified.

Joint statement

On Wednesday, October 25, a working meeting requested by the IACHR was held regarding the Argentine state’s failure to comply with the precautionary measure granted to protect the life and personal integrity of Milagro Sala, a prominent social activist who was sent back to prison on October 14.

The risks faced by Milagro Sala have increased. According to a report from the judicial branch in Jujuy province, in northwest Argentina, Milagro Sala is suffering a serious emotional crisis; in addition, it is publicly known that she injured herself in recent days. During the working meeting, the president of the IACHR ratified that the Argentine state is responsible for her personal integrity.

Amnesty International and CELS participated in the meeting as petitioners of the precautionary measure, which was requested in conjunction with Andhes. That measure established that Milagro Sala could in no way remain in prison. When the Jujuy judiciary ordered a change in her place of detention, a barbed-wire fence was built around the house where she was sent and both the National Gendarmerie and the provincial police were posted outside, in violation of Argentina’s National Law of Sentence Execution.

We warned the Commission about the provincial judicial resolutions that do not recognize the legal value of the inter-American system’s decisions, such as the ruling by the Chamber of Appeals and Control of Jujuy that revoked the change in Milagro Sala’s place of detention. While that decision was being appealed, another judge accused her of failing to comply with the conditions of her confinement by allegedly refusing to undergo medical examinations, and he ordered that the police take her back to the Alto Comedero prison. This decision not only flouts the precautionary measure but also utilizes in a malicious way the grounds on which the IACHR granted it as a pretext for non-compliance.

The Commission’s representatives – its president Francisco Eguiguren and executive secretary Paulo Abrão – expressed great concern over the non-compliance and the lack of response by the Argentine national state, which did not recognize its obligations to comply with an international decision. The federal officials who participated in the meeting reiterated that the Jujuy judicial branch is autonomous, but, nonetheless, they tried to justify the judge’s decision to incarcerate Milagro Sala once again.

Both Amnesty International and CELS requested that the Commission take all the necessary measures to effectively safeguard the life and personal integrity of Milagro Sala. Belissa Guerrero, Amnesty International’s regional representative, and Noelia Garone from its Argentina office participated in the meeting. Meanwhile, Gabriela Kletzel, director of the International Team, and Diego Morales, director of Litigation and Legal Defense, intervened on behalf of CELS.

The state’s representatives included Brian Schapira, undersecretary for human rights protection; Siro de Martini, an aide to Justice Minister Germán Garavano; Ramiro Badía, the legal director of the Human Rights Secretariat; and Javier Salgado, director of international disputes at the Foreign Ministry. Although he had publicly announced that he would be present, the nation’s human rights secretary did not attend.

The working meeting took place in the context of the IACHR’s 165th session, held in Montevideo.

Amnesty International
Abogados y Abogadas del Noroeste Argentino en Derechos Humanos y Estudios Sociales (Andhes)
Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS)