Argentina’s Human Right Secretariat filed a preventive habeas corpus petition on Thursday on behalf of Jujuy lawyers it says are being detained by police for defending people arrested for protesting. The presentation initially included the names of four lawyers, but was later extended to account for the case of Alberto Nallar, a criminal defense attorney who was arrested by the provincial government on charges of “treason.”
“[The preventive habeas corpus] is meant to safeguard the freedom of Jujuy attorneys in the face of the provincial government’s efforts to detain them for defending people who suffered repression and were arrested during the protests (…) They have all defended numerous people who have filed complaints saying they are being criminalized for protesting, and are facing proceedings led by the Jujuy judiciary,” tweeted the Secretariat’s top official Horacio Pietragalla Corti.
At a press conference this Friday in the Lower House of Congress called by workers union and human rights organizations “in light of the serious situation in Jujuy,” Pietragalla Corti said “the detention of lawyers who defend protesters is a serious development, something we haven’t seen since the dictatorship.”
“Nallar, a lawyer representing protesters, is currently under arrest. We filed a preventive habeas corpus due to rumors that lawyers were going to be arrested, rumors that unfortunately turned out to be true,” said Pietragalla, appearing next to Abuelas de Mayo president Estella de Carlotto.
The other lawyers mentioned in the habeas corpus, aside from Nallar, are Néstor Ariel Ruarte, Vicente Casas, Roberto Carlos Aleman, and Alicia Chalabe.
According to the court order mandating for Nallar’s arrest, he was detained because he appeared at two roadblocks and “publicly instigated the perpetrators of these illegal acts to continue interrupting public services, instigating them to also riot and commit acts of treason, rebelling against the provincial Constitution.”
The order says that the “evidence gathered” to determine his arrest is a “magnetic device provided by the plaintiff with video footage.”
“Nallar was going to roadblocks and advising activists and social leaders there on their rights, as well as explaining what the reach of the constitutional reform was,” Florencia Vallino, head of the Argentine Northwest Lawyers for Human Rights and Social Studies association (Andhes, for its Spanish initials) told the Herald. Nallar was also representing people who were being targeted for protesting.
Like the Human Rights Secretariat, and following Nallar’s arrest, Andhes also filed a preventive habeas corpus petition on behalf of Jujuy attorneys representing people detained for protesting.
According to the presentation made by Andhes, “the threat to [the lawyer’s freedom] has been certified not only by the arrest of attorney Nallar, but also because there is a list of lawyers that defend and promote human rights at roadblocks in Jujuy circulating.” According to sources, this list is the same referenced by Pietragalla Corti in the press conference in Congress, which is circulating in Jujuy as a rumor, without any official acknowledgment.
After being arrested, having his cell phone sequestered and taken to jail, Nallar is currently under house arrest.
Protesters arrested in Jujuy
At least ten people have been detained in Jujuy in the last two days after the police started carrying out more than forty arrest warrants issued in early July against people who allegedly took part in different protests. One half of the warrants are for people suspected of being involved in the clash against police on June 20 following the adoption of the partial constitution reform, and the other half are for people accused of being involved in a sitting against the Humahuaca Council calling for the reform to be rejected on June 30.
“The arrest warrant calls for the detention of the person and for their cellphone to be sequestered. The charges range from property destruction and impeding the sessioning of the legislature to clashing with the police,” says Vallino, who adds that attorneys that belong to Andhes are defending some of the people sought by the authorities.
Among those people who have warrants issued against them are social activists, union members and representatives of indigenous communities.
Former Jujuy provincial deputy Natalia Morales told the Herald that at least three of the arrests took place in Humahuaca. “They were kept thirteen hours without communication, we accompanied the family members trying to gather information on where they were and what was going to happen to them,” she said.