Argentina court sentences 11 former officers to prison for crimes against transgender women News
Argentina court sentences 11 former officers to prison for crimes against transgender women

An Argentinian court sentenced 10 of 12 former officers on Tuesday to serve life in prison, and one to 25 years imprisonment, for crimes against humanity they committed during the country’s military dictatorship, spanning 1976 through 1983. Apart from one acquitted, the Argentina Federal Court No. 1 in La Plata convicted the rest of the defendants of the crimes committed in four clandestine detention centers of Buenos Aires, including killing, torture, kidnapping of children and sexual violence against transgender women. Local reports said that the grounds for the court’s decision will be known on July 5.

According to Argentina human rights organization Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, officers abducted and systematically tortured roughly 30,000 people suspected of opposing the military government in clandestine detention centers during the Dirty War. At that time, the military dictatorship—which held a Catholic belief—regarded LGBTQ+ Argentines as subversives of the society and imposed sexual violence upon transgender women.

In recent years, Argentina has continued to deal with crimes stemming from breaches of human rights committed during the former dictatorship. Since the Supreme Court ruled the amnesty laws shielding former officials was unconstitutional in 2005, courts have convicted over 1,000 people. In 2013, Seven retired military officers were previously sentenced to life in prison for various human rights abuses. Then, in 2017, 48 former Argentine officers, charged with the deaths of 789 victims, were sentenced for murder and torture.

In 2022, the Attorney General’s Office reported 3,631 people charged, 1,088 convicted, and 165 acquitted of crimes against humanity. However, Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo claims that the large number of victims, suspects, and cases makes it difficult for prosecutors and judges to bring those responsible to justice.

During trial, eight victims testified to their experiences in the Banfield Pit, one of Argenina’s largest clandestine detention centers. The court found that the defendants committed kidnapping, forced disappearance of politically persecuted people, homicide, torture, rape, child abduction, forced abortions and other crimes against transgender women. Also, the judge ordered “urgent” medical examinations for the defendants to decide whether to revoke the house arrest enjoyed by the majority of convicted defendants.

Argentina has made some progress in the protection of the LGBTQ+ rights. In 2012, government passed a Gender Identity Law respecting self-identification, which allows anyone to change their gender and name in their identity card and birth certificate through a simple administrative procedure. In September 2020, President Alberto Fernández also issued a decree establishing that at least one percent of employees in the federal government should be transgender people.

“What is different about this trial is that for the first time in Argentina and in the world, crimes against humanity committed against trans women in the context of state terrorism are condemned,” prosecutor Ana Oberlín told reporters.