Argentina: Torture of Transvestites Must Stop Now!

SUMMARY

F.A. Rodriguez, a transvestite, was subjected to torture by police officers in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on October 19, 2001. In spite of legislative changes meant to limit the possibility of arbitrary arrests, transvestites are still regularly harassed and mistreated by Buenos Aires police. Ms. Rodriguez has submitted a formal complaint. Many others, however, do not do so, due to fear of retaliation or lack or resources.

IGLHRC urges letter to Argentinean authorities demanding action on this case, and prevention of possible others.

ACTION

IGLHRC, together with the Argentinean transvestite organizations ALITT (Asociación Lucha por la Identidad Travesti Transexual) and Futuro Transgenérico, asks for urgent letters to the Argentinean authorities demanding a full investigation of Ms. Rodriguez's complaint and appropriate punishment of those officers found responsible for the offences.

Please write to:

Ministerio del Interior
Subsecretaría de Asuntos Municipales
Dr. Rubén Américo Marí
Av. Leandro N. Alem 168 EP
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Phone: (54 11) 43 43 08 80 ext. 1325/1405
Fax: (54 11) 43 43 08 80 ext 1639
Subsecretaría de Derechos Humanos
Dra. Diana Conti
Sarmiento 329
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Phone: (54 11)43 82 98 53
Fax: (54 11) 43 81 08 97
Comisaría 25
Comisario Jorge Mario Chacoma
Av. Scalabrini Ortiz 1350
Phone; (54 11) 48 31 15 78 (ask: "Por favor, déme señal de fax")
Defensoría del Pueblo de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires
Dra. Alicia Oliveira
Venezuela 842
Phone/fax: (54 11) 43 38 49 00
defensoria_ciudad@buenosaires.gov.ar

Please send a copy of your letters to

ALITT
PaEchegaray@legislatura.gov.ar

Note: If you have no time or have difficulty sending faxes/letters to the authorities themselves, please send them to ALITT and they will forward them.

SAMPLE LETTER

Dear Sir/Madam

I/We write to you to demand an immediate investigation into the allegations made by Ms. F.A. Rodriguez to the Juzgado de Instrucción 27 in complaint number 90.671, dated October 25, 2001.

Ms. Rodriguez alleges that she was tortured by police in Station 25 in Buenos Aires over the night of October 19, 2001. It is incumbent on you to ensure that this case receives a full and fair investigation, and that any persons found responsible for these appalling acts of torture is punished appropriately.

Police abuse against Ms. Rodriguez violates international human rights treaties ratified by Argentina, such as the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Interamerican Human Rights Convention, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Those treaties have been incorporated into the Argentinean Constitution as the supreme law of the country (Article 75.22). Torture also violates Art. 18 of the Argentinean Constitution, which expressly mandates "the abolition of all forms of torture."

The Convention Against Torture mandates civilian authorities to "proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation" of torture claims (Article 12), as well as to "educate and inform regarding the prohibition against torture" (Article 10). We urge you to fulfill those obligations by ordering an immediate investigation, and punishing those officers found guilty of abuse. We urge this not only because it is your obligation under international law. We urge it as a way to convey to the general public your commitment to the rule of law and respect for the human rights of all in Buenos Aires.

Sincerely,

BACKGROUND

At 5 a.m. on October 19, 2001, Ms. F. A. Rodriguez, a transvestite went to meet a friend at the intersection of El Salvador and Oro streets in Buenos Aires. She was stopped on her way by three police officers from Station 25. Even though she explained to the officers that she was not engaged in sex work in the area, she was grabbed, tear-gassed, forced into a police van, handcuffed and placed on the floor and kicked mostly on the head. She was then taken to Station 25. At the precinct house, she was kicked not only by the officers who brought here but also from those who were at the station, and was slapped and beaten with police sticks. Police officers claimed they could "make her disappear," and called her "puto sucio" and "gordo de mierda" ("dirty faggot" and "fucking ball of grease").

They forced Ms Rodriguez to sign documents she could not see --due to the bruises around her eyes and the effects of tear gas. After one hour of constant beatings, she was locked in a cell. Hours later, she was examined by a police doctor who made no comment about the bruises and marks she carried on her body.

She was released at 3 a.m. on October 20, 2001. Police officers kept her ID and $30 (equals U$S 29) she had been carrying.

For further information on the legal and social situation of transvestites in Argentina, see an April 2001 report by IGLHRC and ALITT: "The Rights of Transvestites in Argentina" at http://www.iglhrc.org/news/factsheets/Argentina_trans.html

Note: in Argentina, the term "transvestite" applies to those who live permanently in their gender of choice. In most cases, they have modified their bodies through hormones or partial surgeries but not necessarily have undergone or want sex-reassignment surgery.

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