Argentina: Investigate Transgender Murder and Protect Activist in Salta Province

Summary

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is deeply concerned about the unresolved murder case of Pelusa Liendro, and the ongoing persecution and harassment of Pelusa’s partner in activism, Rosario. Pelusa Liendro, a human rights defender who regularly denounced police and institutional abuses against transgender people, was murdered on November 26, 2006. Pelusa’s murder came after a local TV show used a hidden camera to film and then broadcast police asking transgender sex workers for bribes in Salta Province, Argentina. The police have insinuated that the murder involved drug trafficking or a crime of passion but the crime has yet to be solved. The police have also named Pelusa's friend, Rosario, as a prime suspect in the murder case. Rosario has accused the police of the crime and requests an exhaustive investigation into Pelusa’s murder. She also asks for personal protection for herself, fearing that otherwise she will share the same fate as her friend.

Action

IGLHRC, Asociación Travestis, Transexuales y Transgénero Argentinas (ATTTA), Red Lac Trans and Rosario, URGENTLY request that you send letters in English with a Spanish translation to the following individuals, demanding an end to Rosario’s persecution and asking for a fair and exhaustive investigation into the Pelusa Liendro murder.

Please write today to:

Sr GOBERNADOR DE LA PROVINCIA DE SALTA
DR. ROBERTO ROMERO
Fax: + 54 387 436 0400
Email: gobernador@salta.gov.ar
Sr MINISTRO DE GOBIERNO Y JUSTICIA
E.P.N. D. VICTOR MANUEL BRIZUELA
Address: Centro Cívico Grand Bourg - Salta
Phone: +54 387 432 4000 ext. 200
Email: minbrizuela@gobiernosalta.gov.ar
POLICIA DE LA PROVINCIA DE SALTA
Crio Gral. D. GILBERTO PEREYRA
Address: Gral. Güemes 750 - Salta
Fax 54 387 421 4627
Email: jefpolsalcmd@sinectis.com.ar
Sr SECRETARIO DE JUSTICIA Y DERECHOS HUMANOS
Dr. Pedro Guillen
Address: España 1350 - Salta
Fax: 54 387 4360407
Email: sjdh@salta.gov.ar

Please send copies of your letters to:

Marcela Romero
ATTTA - Asociación Travestis, Transexuales y Transgénero Argentinas
marcelaromero_40@yahoo.com.ar
RED_LAC_TRANS
coord_red_lactrans@yahoo.com.ar
Fernando D’Elio
IGLHRC – International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
fdelio@iglhrc.org

Sample letter

To Whom It May Concern,

We are writing to express our concern about Pelusa Liendro’s unresolved murder case, and the ongoing persecution and harassment of Rosario, Pelusa’s partner in activism, after she accused the police in Salta Province of involvement in the crime.

Since Pelusa´s death, on November 26, 2006, Rosario has been pursued and harassed until the point where she fears for her physical and psychological integrity.

We vigorously exhort you to act quickly and investigate this crime. We encourage you to identify the perpetrators involved in this incident and punish them according to the law. We also exhort you to offer protection to people who defend transgender human rights to prevent this type of crime from occurring again.

We ask that you carry out an exhaustive and impartial investigation of the violence and police abuse of transgender people uncovered and denounced by Pelusa Liendro, Rosario, and their partners in Salta Province.

Finally, we take this opportunity to request that appropriate measures are taken to assure the security of Rosario, Pelusa’s friend and colleague in struggle, invoking the protections granted in international covenants signed and ratified by the Republic of Argentina.

We look forward to your prompt reply.

(Name, address, organization)


Sample letter translation into Spanish

Estimado Señor:

Nos dirigimos a usted para expresarle nuestra preocupación por la falta de esclarecimiento del asesinato de la Defensora de los Derechos Humanos de las personas trans, Pelusa Liendro y por la persecución de que está siendo objeto su compañera en el activismo Rosario a raíz de sus denuncias contra la policía de la provincia de Salta.

Desde el asesinato de Pelusa el día 26 de noviembre de 2006, Rosario, es perseguida y amenazada razón por la cual teme por su integridad física y psicológica.

Enérgicamente exhortamos a que se actúe rápidamente, investigando este crimen. Queremos alentarlo a búsqueda de todas las personas involucradas en el incidente y a garantizar que, una vez que todas ellas hayan sido identificadas, sean castigadas de acuerdo a lo que estipula la ley y, asimismo, a ofrecer protección a quienes defienden los derechos humanos de las personas trans y garantías de que este tipo de crímenes no se vuelvan a repetir.

Además solicitamos que se realice una investigación exhaustiva e imparcial de todos los incidentes de violencia y abuso policial hacia las personas trans denunciados por Pelusa Liendro, Rosario y sus compañeras en la Provincia de Salta;

También queremos aprovechar la oportunidad para solicitar la protección adecuada para asegurar el bienestar de su amiga y compañera de lucha Rosario, invocando las garantías de protección que se encuentran tanto en tratados internacionales ratificados por la Republica Argentina.

Quedamos a la espera de su pronta respuesta.

(Nombre, dirección, organización)

Background

As in all Latin America, police in Salta Province, Argentina, have historically harassed transgender people—subjecting them to verbal and physical humiliation and arbitrary arrest followed by abuse. Transgender people are often obliged to have sexual intercourse with police to win freedom from custody or permission to work.

To address this state of affairs, a group of transgender activists led by Pelusa Liendro began four years ago to expose these abuses. Step by step, Salta society began to listen to their horrific stories of harassment and abuse. In this context, journalists from "La Otra Campana" a local TV Cable show decided to use a hidden camera to record how provincial police officers mistreat and bribe transgender people. After the broadcast, police officers serving under Commissary Oscar Tolaba jailed two journalists and all the transgender women who had been seen on the show. Ten days after the show was broadcast, on November 29, 2006, Pelusa Liendro was found stabbed in her car; she died hours later. The crime has not yet been solved. At first, the police tried to implicate Rosario, Pelusa’s friend and activist partner, in the murder. Then they tried unsuccessfully to link the murder to drug trafficking or a crime of passion. None of these hypotheses have been proven.

In spite of the crime, Rosario and her colleagues have continued to work and denounce police abuses. As a consequence, Rosario faces constant and systematic persecution, making her fear for her survival on a day-to-day basis, and leaving her wondering whether she needs to go into hiding for her own security.

International Law

The right to life is protected by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR, Article 3), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR, Article 6) and the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights (ICHR, Article 4).

The right to be free from discrimination and to equality before the law is protected by the UDHR (Articles 2 and 7), ICCPR (Articles 2 and 26) and ICHR (Articles 1 and 24).

The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its decision in Toonen v Australia (1994) that the existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Numerous other United Nations human rights mechanisms have subsequently condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The right to be free from torture, inhumane or cruel treatment or punishment, is protected by the UDHR (Article 5), ICCPR (Article 7) and ICHR (Article 5.2), as well as by the Convention Against Torture (CAT), which specifically protects the right to submit complaints and mandates that state officers process those claims promptly and fairly in cases of torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment (Article 13).

The right to be a human rights defender is protected by The UN Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (G.A. res.53/144, U.N. Doc. U.N. Doc. A/RES/53/144 - 1999), which affirms that, "Everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be effectively protected under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States which result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms" (Article 12.2). The declaration adds that, "In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms" (Article 12.3).

The right to effective remedy is protected by the UDHR (Article 8) and CAT (Article 14).

The “right of complainant and witnesses to be protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of [any] complaint or any evidence given” is protected by CAT (Article 13).

The right to judicial protection, involving the “right to simple and prompt recourse ... to a competent court or tribunal” is protected by IAHRC (Article 25).

Argentina ratified ICCPR on August 8, 1986; the Convention on September 5, 1984; and IAHRC on March 31, 1989. The UDHR is considered part of customary international law, and binding on all member States of the United Nations, including Argentina.