At a time when practically every event that takes place within the Argentine political arena is interpreted in a diametrically opposed way depending on who you ask, the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling that applied the so-called “two for one” benefit to a person convicted of crimes against humanity has accomplished what seemed previously impossible: to get a cohesive response — outright rejection — from all ends of the spectrum.
Ever since its issuing six days ago, the ruling has prompted four criminal accusations: one against the three Justices who voted for the benefit — Horacio Rosatti, Carlos Rosenkrantz, Elena Highton de Nolasco — for allegedly making a decision that goes against the law; and three that have been pressed against the Argentine State for allegedly violating the rights of the victims of state terrorism, but before the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IAHCR). According to legal sources consulted by Clarín, the latter are the ones that have the best chances of prospering.
Moreover, two different courts in the country have already refused to follow the highest Court’s line of thought and rejected requests from people convicted of crimes against humanity for the benefit to be applied to them as well. In fact, a San Juan Province court declared the finding unconstitutional.
When explaining his decision, Angel Gabriel Nardiello, member of one of the aforementioned courts, explained that judges are not forced to follow the Supreme Court’s lineaments “in particular cases such as this one.”
He also argued that “rulings are binding if they are unanimous,” something that did not happen in this case. However, he also said that “many judges were already applying the ‘two for one’ on their own” before the Supreme Court’s put the matter at the forefront of the political conversation.
Human rights leader and mother of a disappeared child, Graciela Fernández Meijide, expressed herself along the same lines, remembering that “there was one in 2013 [a ruling of the same characteristics],” concerning a former military member called “Simón Antonio Herminio.”
“There was no fuss like this time, and the ruling wasn’t discussed,” she added.
This issue is particularly relevant considering that several representatives of the Victory Front (FpV), with former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner at the front, sought to tie the ruling with the Macri administration. They implied, sometimes in a not so subtle way, that the court acted at its request.
“This wouldn’t have happened during my administration,” said Fernández last week. The government, in contrast, constantly rebutted the argument by assuring it respects the separation of powers and doesn’t pressure the court into acting in a certain manner.
Numerous national and international human rights organizations have joined the criticism, which will be illustrated on the streets tomorrow in a March to Plaza de Mayo at 6PM. The Center of Legal and Social Studies (CELS), Amnesty International and mothers and grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo are just some of the ones that have called people to march.
At an international level, disapproval came from the United Nation’s Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner in South America (OHCHR). In a press release issued yesterday, the office warned that when the Justices talk about “applying the most benign law [the legal principle they used to apply the benefit] they can’t overlook the international standards that are applied to crimes against humanity.”
“The Argentine state and the Supreme Court, as the highest legal instance, must abide not only to Argentine law, but also to international law and commitments made at an international level,” the release added. The OHCHR is the UN’s body in charge of coordinating all mechanisms aimed at overlooking human rights in the region. No Supreme Court Justice has come out to explain the decision ever since the ruling was issued.