Jujuy: international human rights organizations express concern

Multiple groups questioned the constitutional reform and the excessive use of force against protests across the province

Numerous international organizations have condemned the police repression in Jujuy from the past few days, cracking down on protests against the recent reform of the provincial constitution.

“We have received reports of events that could constitute an improper use of force against individuals in the context of the demonstrations,” said Jan Jarab, Representative of the Regional Office for South America of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights in a letter addressed to Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales. 

In the letter, the UN office expressed concern over “the handling of the recent demonstrations by the security forces, as well as about some of the provisions of the approved provincial constitutional reform text.”

Some of the questioned articles of the reformed constitution, which was approved on June 16 and formally adopted yesterday, ban some forms of protests. Since the reform was passed, protests across the province intensified and a brutal police crackdown began on Saturday. At least 170 people have been injured and 68 were arrested since then.

The UN Office also said it learned that “at least 20 people have been injured, including a 17-year-old boy who suffered severe eye trauma and another person who reportedly suffered head trauma, allegedly from the use of less lethal weapons fired directly at the upper body.”

The UN Human Rights Office said that it was investigating the detention and prosecution of demonstrators, including Frente de Izquierda left-wing legislator Natalia Morales (no relation to the governor) and journalists, including Lucho Aguilar from La Izquierda Diario

“The provincial and national authorities must promptly investigate all indications of rights violations in the context of the demonstrations against the constitutional reform in Jujuy,” said Jarab, who also called to “reduce tensions” and “address the root causes of the protests and avoiding any setbacks in terms of human rights” 

“ I would like to call for constructive and intercultural dialogue, ensuring the effective participation of indigenous peoples and other stakeholders in order to overcome the current crisis in the province of Jujuy,” the letter said. “The Office believes that it is of the utmost importance to avoid an escalation of violence”

Jarab also asked Morales for a meeting to address “the impact the implementation of the adopted provincial constitutional reform could have on the exercise of human rights”

“It contradicts international human rights standards”

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) which depends on the Organization of American States (OAS), said yesterday they were following the actions in Jujuy with “concern”, and called on the government to respect the right to protest, as well as international standards on the use of force. 

The IACHR also said that it received reports that the reform “did not comply with the due consultation of the indigenous peoples, in accordance with Inter-American and international standards” and that the provincial police “allegedly used excessive force, tear gas, and rubber bullets to dissolve non-violent roadblocks”

Moreover, Juanita Goebertus, Director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch, tweeted yesterday that the organization was following the protests in Jujuy “with concern.”

“We call for the promotion of dialogue and the avoidance of excessive use of force and violence,” she said. “The constitutional reform includes excessive limitations to protest that contradict international human rights standards”

Amnesty International also chimed in, asking the Constitutional Convention and Morales to suspend the reform.

In a letter co-signed by local human rights advocacy groups —like the CELS, ANDHES, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel’s SERPAJ— they raised questions about the “legality and legitimacy of the reform.”

“We understand that [the suspension] would be the only effective measure to channel the claim and ensure a necessary, mandatory, and participatory debate of all sectors of Jujuy’s society”

Today, President Alberto Fernández quoted some of these reports to demand that Morales repeal the reform.


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