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Argentina high court rejects mandatory blood tests of alleged 'Dirty War'-era abductees

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Argentina [official website, in Spanish] ruled Tuesday that individuals cannot be required to submit blood samples to test whether they were abducted as children during the "Dirty War" [JURIST news archive]. The court issued two rulings [Pagina12 report, in Spanish] in the cases of brothers Guillermo Gabriel Prieto and Emiliano Matias Prieto [judgments, PDF in Spanish], finding that genetic material can be collected from personal effects, but that blood samples cannot be required. The brothers were challenging lower court orders compelling them to provide blood samples to compare their genetic identity to a bank of genetic information from families of missing persons and allowing the testing of material samples obtained from a search of their home. The high court overturned the order compelling blood samples and affirmed the order allowing testing of other materials, reasoning that testing genetic material obtained from personal effects is an alternative, less invasive method that is already recognized in by Argentine criminal law. The court concluded that the search and seizure recourse recognized already under articles 399 and 409 of the Criminal Procedure Code authorizes search for such material and also authorizes testing any materials obtained in congruence with the duty of the state to help clear the cases of abducted children. Alan Iud, lawyer for Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo [advocacy website], emphasized the importance the Supreme Court rulings to potentially uncover the truth, achieve restitution for victims and their families, and to punish the crime of "appropriation" of minor children, but expressed concern over the role assigned to law enforcement. Prior lawsuits have revealed that law enforcement has not always been ready and willing to facilitate the process.

The association Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo originally raised the complaints that gave rise to the criminal proceedings challenged by the Prieto brothers' appeals. The association is a non-governmental organization that seeks restitution for the relatives of disappeared persons, whose children were abducted during the 1976-1983 Dirty War [Global Security backgrounder]. The organization searches and advocates for those children, all born between 1975 and 1980, and demands that those responsible for such abductions be brought to justice.

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