Argentina is a federal constitutional republic. Mauricio Macri won election to the presidency in 2015 in multiparty elections the media and various nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) described as generally free and fair. The country held midterm elections in October for one-third of the Senate and one-half of the Chamber of Deputies.
Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
The most significant human rights issues included torture by federal and provincial police; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; interference in judicial independence; corruption at all levels of government; gender-based killings of women; and forced labor despite government efforts to combat it.
Judicial authorities indicted and prosecuted a number of current and former government officials who committed abuses during the year, including a number of investigations against high-level officials of the former government.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape of men and women, including spousal rape, is a crime. The penalties range from six months’ to 20 years’ imprisonment. There were anecdotal reports of police or judicial reluctance to act on rape cases; women’s rights advocates claimed that the attitudes of police, hospitals, and courts toward survivors of sexual violence sometimes victimized them again.
The law prohibits domestic violence, including spousal abuse. Survivors may secure protective measures. The law imposes stricter penalties on those who kill their spouses, partners, or children as a consequence of their gender. According to local NGOs, lack of police and judicial vigilance often led to a lack of protection for victims.
In September hearings began in the April kidnapping, rape, and femicide of Micaela Garcia in Entre Rios Province. Sebastian Wagner, who confessed to Garcia’s killing, was previously convicted and sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment on two counts of sexual abuse and rape but was released on parole in 2016. The judge who approved Wagner’s parole release was under investigation and faced calls to resign as of year’s end.
The National Register of Femicides, maintained by the Supreme Court’s Women’s Office, recorded that 230 women died as a result of domestic or gender-based violence during 2016. Media reported one femicide per day during the month of April. A local NGO reported 245 femicides from January to November 14, an increase from the previous year. The same source reported 18 percent of these victims had filed a police report and that 12 percent had active protection orders from authorities.
The Supreme Court’s Office of Domestic Violence provided around-the-clock protection and resources to victims of domestic violence. The office received approximately 2,590 cases of domestic violence in the city of Buenos Aires during the first three months of the year, an estimated 60 percent of which involved violence against women. The office also carried out risk assessments necessary to obtain a restraining order.
Public and private institutions offered prevention programs and provided support and treatment for abused women.
During the first six months of the year, more than 10 shelters were under construction, with a limited number already open and functioning. More than 2,800 officials and service providers received training in preventing gender-based violence.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the public sector and imposes disciplinary or corrective measures. In some jurisdictions, such as the city of Buenos Aires, sexual harassment might lead to the abuser’s dismissal, whereas in others, such as Santa Fe Province, the maximum penalty is five days in prison. In September a poll by the city of Buenos Aires ombudsman’s office reported that 80 percent of women suffered from harassment or violence in the street at least once during the year, and that 97 percent of these abuses were not reported to authorities. Under a 2016 law against street harassment in the city of Buenos Aires, violators may be fined or given court-ordered public service for making catcalls and other forms of street harassment.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: .
Discrimination: Although women enjoyed the same legal status and rights as men, they continued to face economic discrimination and held a disproportionately high number of lower-paying jobs. Women also held significantly fewer executive positions in the private sector than men, according to several studies. Although equal payment for equal work is constitutionally mandated, women earned approximately 27 percent less than men earned for similar or equal work.
The Supreme Court’s Office of Women trained judges, secretaries, and clerks to handle court cases related to women’s problems and to ensure equal access for women to positions in the court system. The office also trained judges, prosecutors, judicial staff, and law enforcement agents to increase awareness of gender-related crimes and develop techniques to address gender-related cases and victims.
Birth Registration: The government provides universal birth registration, and citizenship is derived both by birth within the country’s territory and from one’s parents. Parents have 40 days to register births, and the state has an additional 20 days to do so. The Ministry of Interior and Transportation may issue birth certificates to children under the age of 12 whose births were not previously registered.
Child Abuse: Child abuse was common; the Supreme Court’s Office of Domestic Violence reported that 29 percent of the complaints it received involved children as of September. The government launched a 24/7 hotline staffed by professional child psychologists for free consultations and advice. The hotline received 1,487 calls to report child abuse from November 2016 to February, with 80 percent of the complaints involving abuse by a father or stepfather.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage for men and women is 18.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Sexual exploitation of children, including in prostitution, was a problem. The minimum age of consensual sex is 13, but there are heightened protections for persons ages 13 to 16. A statutory rape law provides for penalties ranging from six months to 20 years in prison, depending on the age of the victim and other factors.
Several prominent cases of child sexual abuse were reported during the year. In May police arrested a nun and charged her with helping priests sexually abuse children at the Antonio Provolo Institute for the hearing impaired in Mendoza Province from 2004 to 2012.
The law prohibits the production and distribution of child pornography, with penalties ranging from six months to four years in prison. While the law does not prohibit the possession of child pornography by individuals for personal use, it provides penalties ranging from four months to two years in prison for possession of child pornography with the intent to distribute it. The law also provides penalties ranging from one month to three years in prison for facilitating access to pornographic shows or materials for minors under the age of 14.
During the year prosecutors from the nationwide Point of Contact Network against Child Pornography on the Internet pursued cases of internet child pornography. The network reported improvements on the national level in the ability to punish offenders.
International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
The Jewish community consists of approximately 250,000 persons. Sporadic acts of anti-Semitic discrimination and vandalism continued. The Delegation of Argentine Jewish Associations received 351 complaints of anti-Semitism in 2016, with more than 60 percent occurring online. The most commonly reported anti-Semitic incidents were slurs posted on various websites, graffiti, verbal slurs, and the desecration of Jewish cemeteries.
In October, Interpol renewed Red Notices on five Iranians, one Lebanese, and one Colombian suspected in the 1994 bombing of the Argentina Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 persons.
On September 20, the Gendarmerie concluded forensically that the death of Alberto Nisman, the special prosecutor in charge of the AMIA bombing investigation, was a homicide. Previous analyses had maintained that there was insufficient evidence to prove foul play. The investigation continued without conclusion as to the motive for his death. In 2015 Nisman was found dead in his apartment from a gunshot wound to the head. Nisman was scheduled to testify the next day before a congressional committee concerning his allegations that then president Kirchner and associates conspired to convey impunity to the Iranians suspected of planning and executing the AMIA bombing.
Hearings in the AMIA bombing cover-up trial, which accused former government and law enforcement officials and a leader of the country’s Jewish community of complicity and false testimony to cover up the 1994 AMIA bombing, continued during the year.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The constitution and laws prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The law also mandates access to buildings by persons with disabilities. According to media reports, the ombudsman of the city of Buenos Aires reported that 33 percent of the metropolitan subway stations had elevators or escalators and that only 29 percent of the stations were equipped with bathrooms for persons with disabilities.
While the federal government has protective laws, many provinces had not adopted such laws and had no mechanisms to ensure enforcement. An employment quota law reserves 4 percent of federal government jobs for persons with disabilities, but NGOs and advocacy groups claimed the level of disability employment achieved during the year was less than 1 per cent.
The constitution recognizes the ethnic and cultural identities of indigenous peoples and states that congress shall protect their right to bilingual education, recognize their communities and the communal ownership of their ancestral lands, and allow for their participation in the management of their natural resources.
Indigenous people did not fully participate in the management of their lands or natural resources, in part because responsibility for implementing the law is delegated to the 23 provinces, the constitutions of only 11 of which recognize indigenous rights.
Projects carried out by the agricultural and extractive industries displaced individuals, limited their access to traditional means of livelihood, reduced the area of lands on which they depended, and caused pollution that in some cases endangered the health and welfare of indigenous communities. Conflict occurred when authorities evicted indigenous peoples from ancestral lands then in private ownership. The disappearance of indigenous rights supporter Santiago Maldonado (see section 1.b.) renewed attention to the land demands of indigenous communities.
The lack of trained teachers hampered government efforts to offer bilingual education opportunities to indigenous peoples.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons generally enjoyed the same legal rights and protections as heterosexual persons. No laws criminalize consensual same-sex conduct between adults. LGBTI persons could serve openly in the military.
The law gives transgender persons the right legally to change their gender and name on identity documents without prior approval from a doctor or judge. It also requires public and private health-care plans to cover some parts of hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery, although the Ministry of Health did not effectively enforce this requirement.
National antidiscrimination laws do not specifically include the terms “sexual orientation or gender identity” as protected grounds, only “sex.” There was no official discrimination, however, based on sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care. Media and NGOs reported cases of discrimination, violence, and police brutality toward LGBTI individuals, especially transgender persons.