Press Release

IACHR Finds Failure to Comply with Precautionary Measures for Milagro Sala in Argentina and Sends Request to Inter-American Court

November 3, 2017

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Washington, D.C.—On November 3, 2017, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) asked the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to adopt provisional measures for Milagro Sala with respect to the State of Argentina, because the Commission considers that the State has failed to comply with the precautionary measures granted in her favor.

In January 2016, human rights organizations in Argentina requested that the Commission adopt precautionary measures for Milagro Sala, an indigenous leader.

On July 27, 2017, after having received information from both parties and having visited the prison where she was being held, the Inter-American Commission granted precautionary measures for Milagro Sala by means of Resolution 23/17. In the Commission’s judgment, there were sufficient elements to consider that, among other things, Milagro Sala’s conditions of detention constituted a situation of harassment and stigmatization that jeopardized her life and integrity, a situation made worse by the beneficiary’s state of mental health. Therefore, the IACHR decided that the Argentine State should adopt measures to protect the beneficiary’s rights to life and personal integrity; reach agreement with her on the measures to be adopted; and, considering that pretrial detention should be an exception, adopt alternative measures such as holding her under house arrest or enabling her to be free while awaiting trial.

After the precautionary measure had been granted, the Commission found that judicial authorities in Jujuy had made decisions that far from comply with the precautionary measures issued by the Commission and that, on the contrary, put the beneficiary in a situation of greater risk. Initially, the judicial authorities ordered house arrest for Milagro Sala, but under a strict security regime that reproduced the conditions of prison in her home. Later, the Appeals and Oversight Chamber of Jujuy Province ordered the accused to be returned to prison. And finally, a judge ordered Milagro Sala’s return to prison because she had apparently refused to be transferred to a medical facility for tests. The Commission also learned of the serious psychological situation the beneficiary is going through due to her anguish over the latest decisions by State authorities, which allegedly led her to inflict an injury on herself, in addition to the one caused before the precautionary measures were granted.

The IACHR finds that the State’s actions as described are not conducive to compliance with the precautionary measures. The most recent actions by the State, analyzed in conjunction with other risk factors identified in Resolution 23/17, would seem to exacerbate the risk to the life and personal integrity of Milagro Sala. In the view of the IACHR, Milagro Sala’s current situation meets the conditions of extreme gravity, urgency, and risk of irreparable damage that Article 63(2) of the American Convention establishes for the adoption of provisional measures.

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 the respect for and defense of 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. 173/17