IACHR session: Memory, truth and justice, labor rights, Milagro Sala and Lhaka Honhat

Next week the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) will hold its 165th session in Montevideo. CELS will participate with other organizations in two public hearings and two work meetings with representatives of the IACHR and the Argentine state.

Twenty organizations representing trade unions, human rights workers and labor lawyers requested a hearing about labor and trade-union rights in Argentina, which will be held on Tuesday, October 24. We will explain how worker protection mechanisms have weakened in recent months, in a context of rising unemployment and poverty. The scenario includes harassment and criminalization of union leaders, the intercession of trade unions, and the persecution of judges in labor tribunals and of lawyers who defend workers. This is occurring while discussions take place at a national level regarding a possible labor reform, the deepening of outsourcing, the modification of the regime for work-related accidents, and a pension system reform.

The process of memory, truth and justice for crimes against humanity in Argentina will be the focus of the second hearing, solicited by 13 human rights organizations. We will present information on the regressive discourses of Argentine government officials regarding state terrorism and the “2 for 1” ruling by the country’s highest court, which was questioned by the IACHR and UN bodies for straying from international standards on gross rights violations. We will also refer to other worrisome court rulings and the weakening of public policies aimed at sustaining judicial processes and strengthening the reconstruction of truth and collective memory. The slow pace of judicial cases must be accelerated urgently, given the advanced age of the accused and the victims.

Meanwhile, the Commission convened a working meeting to analyze Argentina’s noncompliance with the precautionary measure it granted in late July to protect Milagro Sala’s life and physical integrity. The judicial system in Jujuy province had ordered house arrest for her, in partial compliance with the precautionary measure, but a month later an appeals chamber revoked this. While that decision was being appealed, another judge invented grounds for accusing Milagro Sala of failing to comply with the conditions of her house arrest and ordered police to take her back to prison. She is still incarcerated. In this meeting, Amnesty International’s director of the Argentine office and its regional representative will participate, along with two directors from CELS.

Another working meeting will take place, also on Wednesday, October 25, regarding the demarcation and titling of the ancestral lands belonging to the 71 aboriginal communities grouped in the Lhaka Honhat association. In its 2012 merits report on the case, the IACHR determined the state had violated the communities’ rights and demanded recognition of their communal property. This meeting comes at a critical time because if the IACHR does not see concrete progress on implementation of its recommendations, it could present the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

The audience on labor and trade-union rights will take place on Tuesday from 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. (local time in Uruguay) and the one on the memory, truth and justice process from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Both can be viewed live online on the IACHR’s website.