Media Center

Press Release


  September 5, 2008

The Republic of Argentina deposited instruments ratifying the Protocol to the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, at the Organization of American States’ (OAS) headquarters on Friday, becoming the tenth Member State to do so. With the Protocol taking immediate effect in the South American country, capital punishment is now completely abolished there.

Argentina’s Alternate Representative to the OAS, Martín Gómez Bustillo, delivered the ratification instruments to OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza during a brief ceremony, where the Permanent Council’s Chairman, Ambassador Nestor Mendez of Belize, was also in attendance.

Under Article 1 of the Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, which was signed at the OAS General Assembly in Asunción, Paraguay, in June 1990, the States Parties “shall not apply the death penalty in their territory to any person subject to their jurisdiction.” Article 2 provides for an exemption for states that, at the time of ratification or accession, reserve the right to apply the death penalty “in wartime, in accordance with international law, for extremely serious crimes of a military nature.”

Gómez Bustillo said that, “Now that this instrument is deposited, Argentina has ratified all of the human rights-related instruments of the inter-American system.” Presenting the documents to Secretary General Insulza, the Argentinean diplomat added that “although the death penalty was repealed ‘de facto’ in 1994 when our country incorporated the American Convention on Human Rights into the constitution, with the Code of Military Justice now repealed, the death penalty is removed from Argentina’s legal system.” He was referring to the only law in place until recently—when the Congress repealed it—allowing for application of the death penalty.

Furthermore, said Gómez Bustillos, by taking this important step of ratifying the hemispheric Protocol in question, his country was reaffirming its “commitment to defending human rights in order to help build societies that are more democratic, more just and more inclusive, and in which the rule of law prevails and human rights are fully respected as fundamental attributes of human beings.”

Insulza congratulated the Republic of Argentina for completing its ratification of all hemispheric instruments related to human rights. He said the move is an important contribution toward the policy to put an end to the death penalty in the Americas. “I hope other countries will move forward in a similar fashion,” he said. The Secretary General noted as well that while capital punishment remains a highly complex issue, many countries of the hemisphere still apply it. He expressed the hope that abolition of the death penalty would become the norm in all countries of the Americas.

“Of course, this is not an issue that right now enjoys the consensus we would like,” said Insulza. In addition, he observed, high levels of crime and violence in most countries of our hemisphere “do militate against the option of abolishing the death penalty.” And while many people mistakenly think that the death penalty acts as a deterrent, he, like a significant number of citizens of our countries, does not share that view, Secretary General Insulza stated.

Reference: E-332/08