The government’s top officials in the Justice and Human Rights Ministry have requested once again that former Supreme Court Justice Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni be removed from his post at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, following a new round of statements yesterday in which he reiterated his desire for an early end of the Macri administration.
In case you didn’t check the news recently, this is what you missed: In an interview with C5N on Monday, Zaffaroni argued that the government is “taking the country down a path that will end in social catastrophe,” caused by “an economic crisis.”
“If they leave early, we will issue less debt, and we’ll be able to fix the problem. It’s just a wish. They might leave [office] in 2019. It’s only a year away, but this is leading us to social catastrophe. Either they tone things down or we will meet a violent end,” he said.
He had already made similar statements earlier this year while calling on people to “resist.”
- Read more: Former Justice Zaffaroni Doubles Down on Wish for Anticipated end of Macri Administration
Justice Minister Germán Garavano told Clarín that Zaffaroni “has an anti-democratic vision that Argentines have already left behind.”
“He insists on dubious political stances. He is staining all of the inter-American human rights system and plunging it into a crisis,” he added.
Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj took to Twitter to express his “most energetic rejection of Eugenio Zaffaroni’s statements, which are nothing but another example of his disdain for democracy.”
Mi enérgico rechazo a las declaraciones de Eugenio Zaffaroni, las cuales no son más que otra muestra de su desprecio por la democracia. Como manifesté en una carta enviada a la @CIDH, su presencia en ese ámbito desprestigia al sistema interamericano de derechos humanos.
— Claudio Avruj (@clauavruj) February 13, 2018
“As I expressed in a letter sent to the IACHR, his presence in that court discredits the inter-american human rights system,” the rest of the tweet reads. Avruj was referencing to a letter sent to the court last November, which Clarín reported yesterday.
The Secretary argued then that Zaffaroni wasn’t fit to hold a seat in the Court because he had signed a public letter calling for the liberation of controversial social leader Milagro Sala, arguing she was (or rather is, in his view, as she is still in prison) a political prisoner. “While freedom of expression and liberty to criticize the government’s actions are fundamental guarantees for the rule of law and are recognized by the Constitution and the American Convention on Human Rights, it is not less true that the independence and impartiality of all members of that honorable Court is an essential requirement for the exercise of such high post.”
His letter references article 18 of the Court’s statute, which establishes the “positions and activities” for a justice’s incompatibility; namely, Subsection C, which mentions “any others [activities and positions] that might prevent the judges from discharging their duties, or that might affect their independence or impartiality, or the dignity and prestige of the office.”
Avruj indicates that while he knows Zaffaroni can’t participate in any case in which the Argentine government is involved – with the exception of cases involving two countries – his statements intend to “influence the resolutions that the members of international organizations must issue with the utmost rigorousness in terms of objectivity, independence and impartiality.”
Following Zaffaroni’s previous statements, firebrand Cambiemos National Deputy Fernando Iglesias sent a bill to Congress to officially request his removal from the Court for his “clear moral inability and partisan acts that are incompatible with his office, and his repeated undermining of democratic principles.”
However, these letters and public statements from government officials have no other effect than letting the IACHR know about their stance on the matter, as Article 20 of the Court’s statute determines that “the OAS General Assembly shall have disciplinary authority over the judges, but may exercise that authority only at the request of the Court itself, composed for this purpose of the remaining judges.”
In other words, Zaffaroni can only be judged by his peers.
Of course, he is not planning on resigning. When asked about Garavano’s demands in a radio interview, he said: “It’s his opinion, of course, I won’t resign.”
Expect this feud to continue for several more rounds, sooner rather than later.