Press Release

IACHR Condemns Killing of Trans Human Rights Defender in Argentina

October 30, 2015

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Washington DC.- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing of Diana Sacayán, a trans human rights defender in Argentina, who was found dead in her apartment on October 13, 2015. The Commission welcomes the statement issued the following day by the Argentine President, and that by the Secretariat for Human Rights, condemning her death and asking for an investigation.

Sacayán was pivotal in the passing in Argentina last month of a law that establishes a minimum quota of at least one percent of jobs in the public sector in the province of Buenos Aires must be given to trans persons, provided that they meet the requirements in terms of previous employment and education. She was also crucial in the adoption of a protocol by local Ministry of Health for the adequate treatment of trans persons in hospitals in the province of Buenos Aires. She was a member of the Movimiento Antidiscriminatorio de Liberación (MAL) and a representative of the International Gay and Lesbian Association (ILGA). She was also part of the team of the Sexual Diversity Program of the National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI) in Argentina. Additionally, Sacayán participated as a human rights expert in a meeting on employment and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) persons organized by the Commission in October 2012 in Barbados.

The IACHR recognizes the efforts by the Argentine government in advancing the rights of trans persons, particularly through legislative measures, such as the 2012 gender identity law. However, it must note that, according to the information received, this is the third killing of a trans woman in Argentina in the last month. The IACHR urges the State to adopt comprehensive measures to address the underlying causes of violence against trans (travestistranssexuals and transgender) persons in Argentina, such as the general discrimination they face within their families, communities, schools and in the employment and health sectors.

The IACHR encourages Argentina to follow lines of investigation that take into account whether the killing of Diana Sacayán is related to her work in defense of the human rights of trans persons, and/or whether it was committed because of her gender identity. The State must initiate an exhaustive investigation to be conducted with due diligence, and prosecute and punish those responsible. The IACHR notes that according to publicly available information, on October 28, 2015 two suspects were apprehended and are in State custody.

Attacks on human rights defenders and leaders of trans and lesbian, gay and bisexual organizations have the effect of intimidating them and LGBTI persons in general. This fear is exacerbated by the impunity in which these attacks usually remain, resulting in their repetition. The work of human rights defenders is critical for building a solid and lasting democratic society, and defenders play a leading role in the process to fully implement the rule of law and to strengthen democracy. In addition, the IACHR urges the State of Argentina to adopt all necessary measures to ensure the right to life, physical integrity, and security of human rights defenders, including those who work on issues related to discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

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. 123/15