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Lawmakers reject IACHR nominee

Dr. Carlos Horacio de Casas was nominated to the IACHR
Dr. Carlos Horacio de Casas was nominated to the IACHR
Dr. Carlos Horacio de Casas was nominated to the IACHR

Activists, lawmakers oppose Macri’s IACHR nominee Carlos De Casas, after it was revealed he defended a repressor

The fallout from President Mauricio Macri’s nomination of Mendoza lawyer Carlos Horacio de Casas to the Inter-American Commission of Human rights exploded this week as human rights activists, lawmakers and even representatives of international organisations rejected his candidacy. The main issue behind their objections was that De Casas, who is a member of the conservative Opus Dei sect of the Catholic Church, defended an accused repressor tried for crimes against humanity during the last military dictatorship.

Despite the outcry by the country’s human rights community, both the Human Rights secretary and the Radical party’s national committee and Mendoza Governor Alfredo Cornejo stood by the controversial candidate. However, not all Let’s Change government political allies were on board, with UCR lawmaker Ricardo Alfonsín questioning the nomination. “The government needs to clarify to the Argentines whether the information released about the candidate for the IACHR is true or not. A clear explanation about this issue is necessary,” said Alfonsín. De Casas was the attorney for former VIII Infantry Mountain Brigade Intelligence officer Enrique Blas Gómez Saa, who is accused of kidnapping and torturing three victims between 1976 and 1978, during the last military dictatorship.

During the trial, De Casas had requested the removal of Judge Juan González Macías from his case, one of the few judges who had ruled against the Final Stop and Due Obedience amnesty laws. The attorney had also argued against crimes against humanity being placed beyond the statute of limitations in 1985. “He’s a candidate that follows the government’s line, in how they tried to change the March 24 public holiday (the day of remembrance of the last military dictatorship’s victims), and maintain government officials who deny the genocide and state terrorism by the last dictatorship,” said the Mendoza region’s Ecumenical Movement for Human rights group in a statement.

While Renewal Front leader Alberto Fernández also criticized the candidacy. “Macri’s administration’s thinking and open scorn for human rights is evident,” said Fernández. One of his supporters, UCR Governor Cornejo, who openly challenged and criticized the IAHCR after it published a report last year criticising the poor state of his province’s prisons and his authorisation of irregular use of pre-trial custody, justified Macri’s nomination.

“I support him because he has more than enough expertise ... They Kirchnerites and (CELS President and Página/12 journalist Horacio) Verbitsky are organising a defamation campaign against the candidate,” claimed Cornejo.

On the other hand, the Victory Front (FpV) caucus in the Lower House sent a letter to the OAS and Macri criticising the appointment. “His (De Casas) curriculum and previous jobs demonstrate that he does not have the training nor experience in the defence of human rights,” explained the letter.

Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (founders line) member Taty Almeida wasn’t at all shocked by the decision. “We will all come out together to oppose his nomination firmly and demand that the IAHCR does not accept his candidacy in any capacity,” said Almeida. In an interview with La Nación, De Casas denied the criticisms made against him, claiming that he had never defended a “genocide” and that his defendant had been an “innocent military officer who had confronted the dictatorship, as was declared by the justice system.” He claimed that if he had believed his defendant was a torturer, he would not have helped him. “I reject the systematic plan of genocide and the terrible history of that period,” De Casas said.

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