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Argentina: UN experts and bodies welcome sentences for dictatorship-era crimes against humanity

GENEVA (5 December 2017) - A group of UN human rights experts* has welcomed the conviction of 48 people in Argentina, including military personnel and civilians, for torture, murder and enforced disappearances during the country's last military dictatorship.

"This is a historic trial in Argentina for offences which are considered as crimes against humanity, committed against 789 victims within the clandestine detention centre that operated in the former Navy Mechanics School (ESMA)," the experts said after the verdicts in a Federal Court in Buenos Aires.

"This trial represents a fundamental step towards delivering the rights to truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence of all victims of serious human rights violations, and their families.”

Twenty-nine of the accused were sentenced to life imprisonment, including the infamous former officers Alfredo Astiz and Jorge Acosta, and two people who participated in the so-called "death flights", when thousands of victims were drugged and thrown into the sea from military aircraft.

The others accused received sentences ranging from eight to 25 years; another six people were acquitted.

“We would like to express our recognition, solidarity and encouragement to the victims of the military dictatorship in Argentina, and to the human rights organizations that represent them, including the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, whose tireless struggle was paramount in achieving this unprecedented result,” the experts said. The UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture has accompanied this long path towards justice and continues to support the victim's right to redress and rehabilitation.

“We urge the Argentine State to sustain the consensus and public policies that allowed this trial to be held, so that the rights of all the other victims who have been waiting for truth and justice for four decades can be fulfilled.”

ENDS

(*) The UN experts: Mr. Bernard Duhaime, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances; Mr. Pablo de Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence; Ms. Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Ms. Gaby Oré Aguilar, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture; the Committee on Enforced Disappearances.

The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

The United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Torture was established by the General Assembly resolution 36/151 in 1981, to provide assistance to people who have experienced tortureand their family members. It provides direct humanitarian, legal, medical, psychological, social and financial assistance to victims through grants awarded to non-governmental organisations.

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) is a Treaty Body composed of ten independent experts, which monitors implementation of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance by the States Parties.

UN Human Rights, country page: Argentina

For more information and media requests, please contact:  Maria Victoria Gabioud (+41 22 917 9945 / mgabioud@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:  Bryan Wilson, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9826, mediaconsultant2@ohchr.org)

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