Absolution for Luz Aimé Díaz

As the hearings begin in Luz Aimé’s trial, we at CELS join the campaign for her absolution. The case has been marked by discrimination based on her travesti identity wich lead to a change in charges based on an exagerated hypothesis that cannot be substantiated by facts. The deficiency of the justice system ends up putting innocent people in prison, leaves the victims of offenses without reparation while offenders remain unpunished.

Luz Aimé Díaz is 22 years old, she arrived in Buenos Aires almost three years ago from the northern province of Salta. She settled in the Hotel Gondolín and began studying at the Mocha Celis High School. Since she was a teenager, she experienced attacks based on her gender identity; one of those left her blind in one eye and with partial vision loss in the other.

One night in 2018 Luz was offering sexual services on a corner of the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Palermo when two men hired her and took her to a nearby apartment. After the service was over, she left. Two months passed and she was arrested, accused of a crime that occurred in that apartment and that she was unaware of. The men who had hired her allegedly attacked a man in a homophobic attack, in a room of the apartment.

The prosecution did not investigate or identify, let alone detain these two men. As Luz was in that place, the accusation fell on her, despite the fact that there is no evidence that indicates that she was the author of the incident. When the investigating prosecutor Andrés Madrea asked the investigating judge Paula López to arrest Luz, he categorized her as the perpetrator of the crime and changed the charges, from deprivation of liberty with robbery to attempted triple aggravated murder.

This modification is the result of the justice system’s cissexism. The medical examiner focused on Luz’s genitality and pathologized her gender identity. In the opposite sense, the defense had to insist eight months for an ophthalmological examination to be carried out. The prosecution followed the reasoning of the lawyer and installed an unsustainable oversized hypothesis: that Luz was the leader of a criminal gang. Cissexism establishes a hierarchy in which cis people are better and trustworthy, and trans people are not and this the case against Luz Aimé is tainted by this discriminatory perspective. In addition, the means by which the Judiciary tries to convict Luz are not atypical. Many criminal cases end with innocent people imprisoned because judges, instead of looking for objective elements that allow them to ensure the criminal responsibility of a person, orient the investigation to validate a criminal responsibility with scarce proof and prejudicial and stigmatizing actions.

Luz was detained for eight months, until her defense attorney Luciana Sánchez, with the legal advice of Lara Bertolini, obtained house arrest for her client. Since July 2018, Luz Aimé has been subjected to the revictimizing and discriminatory process of a judicial system that lacks gender perspective and respect for the rights of people with disabilities. CELS participated as a party expert to provide technical opinion on Luz’s situation. Throughout the process, biases, prejudices, and stereotypes based on her travesti gender identity were put forth. The specific care needs due to her progressive disabling visual limitation were ignored and her detention had a disproportionate impact on her, in addition to that of the prison system.

The judicial construction of the accusation associates the public life of transvestites and trans people, and particularly those who perform sex work, with criminal behavior. The consequences of the deficient actions of the justice conclude, at least, in three directions: innocent people end up imprisoned, the victims of crimes do not obtain justice and those responsible end up unpunished.

Justice must begin to detect these errors before it’s too late. Luz has the right to pursue her life projects in dignity, as she was doing until the Judiciary irrupted in an unfair and discriminatory manner.