Argentina

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Persistent violations
  • The lack of a national ombudsperson for children[1]
  • Sentencing of children to life imprisonment[2]
  • Detention of children, particularly street children, with adults in police stations[3]
  • Ill-treatment of children by police[4]
  • Length of pre-trial detention[5]
  • Lack of a clear differentiation between correction institutions for offending children and residential homes for children who were placed out of their families for protection[6]
  • Discrimination against indigenous and disadvantaged children[7]
  • Shortcomings in education and services for reproductive and sexual health[8]
  • High number of children who drop out of secondary school[9]
  • Trafficking of children[10]
  • Discrimination against migrant children in access to allowances[11]
  • Lack of legislation on inter-country adoption[12]

For full details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review, Inter-American Commission of Human Rights
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Working Group on arbitrary detention, UN Committee against Torture
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee UN Committee against Torture, Inter-American Court of Human Rights
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Working Group on arbitrary detention, Universal Periodic Review
  6. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Working Group on arbitrary detention
  7. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
  8. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  9. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Culture Rights
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families, International Labour Organisation
  11. UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families
  12. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee



Introduction

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The eighth largest country in the world, Argentina’s terrain varies massively from its sub-tropical north to its sub-antarctic south. The country emerged from a military dictatorship in 1983, and has been governed by democratically elected leaders since. Though Argentina’s courts found life imprisonment for children unconstitutional in 2012, many ongoing violations of children’s rights in the country relate to the justice system, whether in the form of ill-treatment of children by police, the detention of children with adults or the use of lengthy pre-trial detention for children.


Geography

Argentina is located in South America on the southern Atlantic Ocean, bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay to the North, Brazil to the north-east, Uruguay to the east, and Chile to the west. It is the second largest country by territory in South America and the eighth largest in the world. The capital city is Buenos Aires.

Population and Language

The population of Argentina has grown significantly over the past two decades, rising from just over 32 million in 1990, to an estimated 40.5 million in 2010. Since 2000, population growth has levelled off at around one per cent per year[1].

A large majority of Argentina's population self-identify as of European descent (86.4 per cent), while a further eight per cent of the population consider themselves Mestizo, four per cent of Arab or Asian origins and 1.6 per cent Amerindian[2].

The official language of Argentina is Spanish, but a variety of other languages are spoken nationally, including Italian, English, German and French. Indigenous languages are also spoken in some areas of the country, specifically guaraní and quichua in the north.

Politics

The political system is federal, made up of 23 provinces and one autonomous city (Buenos Aires), all of which have their own constitutions, governors, state legislatures and provincial officers. At the national level, executive power is vested in the president, who is elected directly, controls general administration of the country, and holds the role of Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Legislative power lies with the National Congress, a bicameral body made up of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

Argentina has had a complicated political history, marked by a series of coups d’ état in 1955, 1966 and 1976. Since the end of Jorge Rafael Videla's dictatorship in 1983 there have been five democratically elected presidents who have governed within the bounds of the Constitution. The political landscape is currently dominated by the two largest parties, the Partido Justicialista (PJ) and the Unión Civica Radical (UCR). The proportionally representative electoral system has made smaller parties key in government, however, and coalitions are common. The current president is Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of the PJ, who succeeded her husband in the office following the elections of 2007. The PJ is divided into different factions which vote differently in the Congress, however, Fernández de Kirchner is currently able to command majorities in both houses of the National Congress.

Economy

Argentina now has the third largest economy in Latin America and is one of the G20 major economies. Argentina is rich in natural resources (its name is derived from the Latin for silver), and is self-sufficient in petroleum and natural gas. Manufacturing is the largest sector of the economy which also has a strong export based system of agriculture. The main exports are beef, fruit and vegetables.

The economy experienced a bleak period during the 90s when the government pursued trade liberalisation policies, with programmes of deregulation and privatisation. After a short period of growth and low inflation at this time, Argentina entered a recession in 1998.

In 2002, Argentina defaulted on $100 billion of external debt, leading it to abandon its policy of convertibility with the US dollar (whereby the peso was tied to the dollar (1 peso = 1 $US), and float its currency. As a result, 2002 saw the national economy shrink by 10.9 per cent, increasing the number of Argentinians living below the poverty line to 50 per cent with unemployment rising as high as 20 per cent. By the end of the year, inflation was brought under control and the economy re-entered a period of growth, with the rate of growth averaging around nine per cent over the following five years[3].

Argentina is a member of MERCOSUR (the Common Market of the South), an economic and political bloc of South American States.

Media and Civil Society

Argentina has a range of strong civil society movements which grew out of widespread resistance to systematic human rights violations committed under the military dictatorships of the 1970s and 80s. The most internationally renowned of these movements is the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, an association of mothers whose children disappeared during the military dictatorship.

In a study of civil society in Argentina, CIVICUS found that the last 15 years have been characterised by the expansion, diversification and the increasing intensity of civil society organisations' activities, a wide range of which identify themselves as human rights focused.[4].

Human Rights and Children's Rights

Children's civil and political rights achieved recognition relatively early on compared with other countries because of the kidnapping and 'disappearing' of children which took place in the 1970s and 80s under the military dictatorships. Indeed, Argentina introduced article 8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which deals with the preservation of identity as a result of this history.

However, Argentina continues to attract international attention for its record on juvenile justice. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Inter-American Commission have expressed concern about allegations of the torture and inhumane treatment of children and violent repression by police in their comments[5]. There have also been worrying proposals to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility. A number of hearings on juvenile justice have been presented by NGOs before the Inter-American Commission both at the national and sub-regional level. includes Niñ@sur - an initiative aiming to promote national efforts in Member States to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Footnotes:

  1. UN DESA (2009d). "World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision". New York: Department for Economic and Social Affairs
  2. Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos Encuesta Complementaria de Pueblos Indígenas
  3. Economy Watch, Argentina
  4. CIVICUS, Argentina Country Report, 2004-2005)
  5. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations to Argentina, 11 June 2010


Sources

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