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ARGENTINA: State terrorism sentences are a historic step towards justice

The first civilian conviction for human rights abuses committed during Argentina’s military rule is a historic step towards justice according to Amnesty International.

Former minister Jaime Smart and 22 former military officials were found guilty for their involvement in the kidnapping, murder and torture of social activists at six illegal detention centres in Buenos Aires.

Smart, who was Minister of Interior of the state of Buenos Aires between 1976 and 1979, was sentenced to life in prison.

Mariela Belski, Executive Director at Amnesty International Argentina, said:

“The convictions are yet another sign that Argentina is dealing with it’s tragic past and bringing truth and justice to society.

“The challenge that remains is that all those who were involved or participated in the killing, torture and disappearance or thousands of people during Argentina’s military rule, including civilians, are brought to justice.”

In their ruling, the Tribunal also requested that the sexual abuses perpetrated by officials are considered torture and that the police stations that functioned as secret detention centres be turned into sites of memory.

During Argentina’s military rule, between 1976 and 1983, the security forces abducted around 30,000 people, many of whom are still unaccounted for.

Widespread and systematic human rights violations were committed, including torture and extrajudicial executions on a grand scale.

A number of high level officials, including former military Presidents Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, have been convicted for their responsibility in the crimes.

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