Justice Minister Martín Soria on Friday filed a petition with the Supreme Court asking it to rule the recent Jujuy constitutional reform unconstitutional. Jujuy’s new constitution limits the right to protest in the northern province and contains language that Indigenous groups say will hinder them in land rights disputes.
The adoption of the reform by the provincial legislature on June 20 led to a fierce police crackdown on protesters, which has been denounced by human rights organizations and prompted the Human Rights Secretariat to file a lawsuit against the local government on Tuesday.
In his request, Soria asked the court to annul the provisions of the constitutional reform, arguing that it infringes on rights and guarantees established in the National Constitution, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and the American Convention on Human Rights, as well as international treaties.
Soria said the reform seeks to “create a legal framework to repress and persecute those who do not agree with economic ideas,” adding: “We’ve seen this film before. Austerity, hunger, misery and repression of the people,” comparing the situation to the protests amid the 2001 financial crisis.
Jujuy provincial governor Gerardo Morales, an opposition candidate for vice president on the ticket of Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, tweeted that Soria’s filing was an attempt to “destabilize Jujuy”, adding that reforms such as the one he passed are “what the country needs to leave behind the picket line industry and the extortion that is destroying us.”
The court filing notes that international human rights organizations to which Argentina has commitments, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, voiced concern over the situation in Jujuy. It was developed by the Justice Ministry, together with teams in the Human Rights Secretariat and the National Institute for Indigenous Affairs.
In a statement, the government said that “the institutional order of the republic and the democratic system are at stake, as are the values that sustain them.”
Article 14 bis of Argentina’s national constitution protects the rights to freedom of assembly, protest and strike, which the new constitution curbs. The filing adds that two articles in the constitution should be removed because they were implemented without the provincial government consulting Indigenous communities on issues that directly affect them.
Presidential spokeswoman Gabriela Cerruti said that President Alberto Fernández is monitoring the situation in Jujuy closely and has asked Morales to end the repression.
Rodríguez Larreta expressed “solidarity” with Morales and described the court petition as “another kirchnerist attempt to impugn provincial autonomy.”