The rejection of Supreme Court ruling that applied the procedural benefit known as “two for one” in a case of crimes against humanity by politicians along the entire political spectrum and vast sectors of society reached its peak yesterday, with thousands taking to the streets in protest.
The Senate passed a law preventing the sentencing “benefit” from being applied to this type of crime and numerous human rights organizations — led by the Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo — spearheaded massive marches throughout the country to protest against the ruling.
President Mauricio Macri, criticized for not speaking about the issue, congratulated Congress yesterday for “having filled the legal loophole” that allowed judges to apply the benefit and said he had “always been against the ‘two for one,’ especially in cases of crimes against humanity.” Moreover, he criticized the Former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner for saying his administration had to do with the ruling, and assured that, unlike her, he respects the separation of powers.
“She acts with the delusion of having governed in a certain way, with the intention to control every branch of government,” he said. “It’s time to strengthen our institutional life, and not have a person concentrating everything. I believe in checks and balances, in the separation of powers and in an independent Supreme Court. It’s not what the former president believes.”
In a special session, the Senate unanimously approved the aforementioned law, which establishes that the “two for one” benefit won’t be applied to cases of the crimes against humanity defined in the Rome Statute: Crimes against humanity; Genocide and War Crimes — the crime of aggression hasn’t been fully incorporated to the statute.
The ruling also indicates that the benefit will only be applied to those convicted who were held in preemptive custody during the period in which the law the ruling is based on was in effect, between 1994 and 2001. Since it had already been approved by the Chamber of Deputies the day before (on Tuesday), the project only needs President Macri’s signature to come into effect.
News from Congress came hours before hundreds of thousands of people answered the call from numerous human rights organizations to protest against the ruling issued by Justices Horacio Rosatti, Carlos Rosenkrantz and Elena Highton de Nolasco. Plaza de Mayo filled with people wearing white headscarves — the symbol of the mothers and grandmothers’ fight to find their disappeared children for 40 years — to show their support.
Along with the human rights leaders present were various politicians who identify with their cause, many of them children of disappeared parents themselves. But even though all political parties voted in favor of yesterday’s project, there were no representatives from the Cambiemos coalition on stage, or in the plaza. PRO Deputy Daniel Lipovetzky told La Nación that the human rights organizations didn’t invite them.
The leaders of Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo began their speeches right before 7 PM. “The lawmakers passed a law that seeks to prevent the benefit from being used on members of the military who were active during the dictatorship. This fills us with hope and gratitude,” began the head of Grandmothers, Estela de Carlotto.
“The children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be affected by these new winds of impunity,” she said in another passage of her speech. However, she highlighted that “fortunately, society has reacted firmly.”
Head of the Mothers organization Nora Cortiñas spoke about “those who were tortured” and highlighted the importance to seek justice. In a previous interview, she called for the judges who voted in favor of the ruling and Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj, who said that he supported the ruling if it went in accordance to the law, to leave their posts.
“I would tell them to resign, that they can’t continue representing the Judiciary, what they did was the exact opposite of what we expect from them. The people’s answer was resounding, no doubt,” she added.
Cortiñas described the ruling as “obscene, immoral, opposite to any logical thought,” and posited that “it had been on the works for a while.”
“It’s not something spontaneous, it was formed in a context of provocation. It didn’t happen from one day to the other,” she finished. None of the Supreme Court Justices have come out to speak publicly since the ruling was issued eight days ago.