Press Release

IACHR Expresses Concern over Incidents of Violence in Argentina

December 18, 2013

Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its grave concern over the incidents of violence that took place during recent acts of looting in Argentina starting December 3, 2013.

According to publicly available information, the looting occurred in at least 14 Argentine provinces, in the context of an interruption of protection and security services by police forces that had mobilized over salary demands. According to public information, in some provinces the lack of police control led people to spontaneously set up barriers to defend houses and commercial locations, out of fear of the looting. Other citizens reportedly chose to take up arms to defend their property. According to various information sources, the acts of violence resulted in the deaths of around 10 individuals.

The IACHR recalls that it is the State's obligation to proactively investigate such acts and punish those responsible. The Commission urges the State of Argentina to investigate these deaths, resolve them judicially, and punish those responsible.

In addition, the IACHR highlights that under international law, the State has a primary duty to ensure the right to life and the safety of people under its jurisdiction. This includes the obligation of the authorities, particularly those responsible for law enforcement and domestic security, to take operational measures to protect those whose lives and safety are at risk due to acts of violence at the hands of others, and to prevent a repetition of situations that may lead to acts of violence.

Along these lines, the IACHR urges the State, including its national, provincial, and local law enforcement authorities, to urgently adopt any measures that may be necessary to guarantee the population’s rights to life and physical integrity. The Commission further urges the authorities to fulfill their international obligations to protect and guarantee human rights as they relate to citizen security in Argentina.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 101/13