In Argentina there is a denial of basic human rights by political sectors that seek to degrade the validity and militancy of these rights. They even maintain that the issue is used by certain sectors as “a joke”. This is an unacceptable position, when working for the full implementation of human rights is one of the fundamental objectives of our National Constitution and of the International Covenants incorporated with constitutional hierarchy.

By Dr. Miguel Julio Rodríguez Villafañe

Furthermore, they deny that there was State terrorism, which led to the commission of crimes against humanity of various kinds, such as murder, torture, unlawful deprivation of liberty – disappearances -, sexual abuse, physical, psychological and material damage, robbery, kidnapping of the identity and history of children, removing them from their mothers’ side in captivity, etc.

The terrorist methods carried out by the state in our country during the period of the last de facto military government (1976-1983) are inadmissible and this removed all legal and moral authority from the state’s actions.

The members of the presidential ticket, Javier Milei and Victoria Villarruel, of the “La Libertad Avanza” party, present these state atrocities as unimportant, without having taken into account the judicial sentences condemning these acts, which are final and res judicata. At the same time, they maintain that it is “a myth” to claim that there were 30,000 disappeared people. At all times they try to diminish the magnitude of the events, saying that there were only 8,753, as if the arbitrary reduction of the number would take away responsibility for the seriousness of the crimes committed.

Furthermore, it is argued that there were only a few “excesses”, making it appear that the crimes were accidental or were the result of the outbursts of marginalised sectors. They omit to mention that the National Court of Appeals in Federal Criminal and Correctional Matters, on 9 December 1985, in its ruling in the trial of the former commanders of the Military Juntas, affirmed that there was no war, no excesses and that it was a truly sinister operation, planned, directed and ordered in a premeditated, generalised and systematic manner.

Likewise, in the attitude that is intended to diminish guilt, it is an attempt to portray the perpetrators as incomprehensible victims of the criminal actions they carried out, which hurt and offend humanity itself, which is why they are crimes against humanity.

For their part, the perpetrators were tried with all the guarantees of human rights. They were not detained in clandestine prisons, they had their own lawyers, they had the right to a defence and the sentences were handed down by impartial courts in accordance with the law. Meanwhile, those who defend improper state action say nothing about the fact that during the military process, those who disappeared were criminally and indiscriminately sentenced to death without any guarantee of defence and without an impartial court to try them according to the law.

The country must reaffirm its coherence with the essential values that nourish and justify it. Nor can fundamental concepts such as respect for life, human dignity, equality and equity, the exercise of responsible freedom, non-discrimination, social justice and the full enjoyment of human rights become relative or perishable.

Social corruption begins by relativising them, and then annuls them through indifference. We must not tolerate the denial or underestimation of the serious crimes against humanity that were carried out in the country and even less that we do not commit ourselves, essentially, to the issue and its consequences.

We must reaffirm the ultimate truths of humanity, which guide and must guide individuals and peoples for the common good. Otherwise, humanist ideas and convictions can easily be instrumentalised for the purposes of power, contrary to the goals of a self-respecting humanity.

Also, “denialism” of the crimes against humanity that were committed is the deliberate misrepresentation of our past by rejecting the evidence. Blurring the historical truth must not be tolerated.

It is worth noting that, with regard to other crimes against humanity, such as genocide, the so-called “crime of crimes” as, for example, in the case of the Jewish Holocaust, several countries have enacted laws related to the denial of the existence of such genocide, which even provide for criminal condemnation. Thus, in France, in 1990, at least three years’ imprisonment was established for deniers or people who express doubts about the Nazi extermination. Similarly, Belgium passed a law in 1995 prohibiting public support, justification or denial of the Holocaust. In Switzerland, the vindication or denial of any genocide or crime against humanity is punishable. In Germany and Austria, Holocaust denial or doubts are also criminalised. The Spanish Parliament, in July 2015, approved a reform of the penal code in which it was established that denial or glorification of genocide crimes or their perpetrators is punishable.

In this regard, Pope Francis, in the message he read on 24 April 2015 in Rome, before the start of the mass commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, said: “It is necessary to remember them, indeed, it is obligatory to remember them, because where memory is lost it means that evil still keeps the wound open. Hiding or denying the evil is like letting a wound continue to bleed without healing it”.

In 2002, the Congress of the Argentine Nation enacted Law 25.633, which establishes 24 March as “National Day of Memory for Truth and Justice in commemoration of those who were victims of the process that began on that date in 1976” (art.1). Particular care was taken to establish that educational establishments should organise allusive days on the National Day and thus consolidate “the collective memory of society, generate feelings opposed to all types of authoritarianism and promote the permanent defence of the rule of law and the full validity of human rights”, (art. 2).

It is therefore unacceptable that those who wish to govern the destinies of the country do not defend these fundamental goals to be consolidated as state policy. They are the patriotic symbols with content, which make up the unity of all Argentines and deserve special respect, in the profound pact of coexistence that unites us.

Dr. Miguel Julio Rodríguez Villafañe, Constitutional lawyer from Córdoba and opinion journalist.