Lawsuit filed against Bullrich’s controversial police gun guideline

A human rights group says loosened restrictions on the use of lethal force should be declared unconstitutional

The Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) filed a legal complaint against Security Minister Patricia Bullrich’s new police gun guideline which expands the circumstances in which officers can use lethal force without prior warning. 

The center is demanding that it be declared unconstitutional and its implementation blocked since it “diverges from universally recognized principles that regulate the use of lethal force.”

The new protocol — which applies to federal security forces, including the federal, navy, military, and airport security police — was announced in a press conference in March and published in the Official Bulletin as Resolution 125/2024. CELS condemned the move at the time.

“We pointed out that the wide range of situations in which officers are authorized to fire their firearms allows a wide margin of discretion when evaluating such circumstances,” the center said in a communiqué on Friday. “This implies a very serious danger to the life and physical integrity of the population.”

CELS filed its legal complaint in the Federal Administrative Litigation Court last week, with Argentine media outlets picking up the story on Monday. When asked by the Herald, CELS press said they had yet to hear back from the court.

Although the guideline states officers should only open fire on duty when it is strictly necessary or when other non-violent measures are ineffective, they can now shoot without identifying themselves when doing so “could be evidently inadequate or useless, given the circumstances.” Such circumstances are not explicitly outlined in the protocol and the center highlighted the lessened accountability. 

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“Under this new legal framework, for example, vehicle checks, street chases or any attempted robbery on public streets become scenarios in which federal security forces could respond with the use of lethal force, even if there were no firearms present as a threat,” read the statement. “It also stops police control offices from imposing administrative sanctions such as employment continuity on members of the forces who have used their firearms.”

The human rights organization described the protocol as a “re-edition” of the so-called “Chocobar doctrine,” approved by Bullrich during her tenure under the Macri administration, which also expanded the rights of police officers to use lethal force. It was named after a police officer convicted of murdering a teenager who had mugged and stabbed a tourist in La Boca. 

“This demonstrates precisely the importance of judicial investigations that interpret norms and standards for the use of force according to each situation. In the Chocobar case, while the government authorities at the time defended the police intervention, the judicial investigation found that the police had acted abusively,” said the communiqué.

The Security Ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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