Fri, Aug 22, 2003 - Page 7 News List

Argentina abolishes two blanket amnesty laws

AFP , BUENOS AIRES

Members of Argentine human-rights groups wait in front of the Congress in Buenos Aires on Wednesday while the Senate abolished two amnesty laws.

PHOTO: AP

Argentina's Senate on Thursday abolished a series of blanket amnesty laws that had prevented past military leaders from standing trial for human rights abuses.

The motion to abolish the laws, passed in 1986 and 1987 a few years after the end of the 1976 to 1983 military dictatorship, had already been passed by the Chamber of Deputies, Argentina's lower house of Congress, a week ago.

Senate president Jose Luis Gioja said the measure was approved by a majority of the 51 attending members. The vote was 43 to seven, with one abstention.

Most of the ruling Peronist Party members voted in favor of the measure, while the radical social democrats of former president Raul Alfonsin, who passed the amnesty laws, voted against it.

The measure is expected to be signed into law by President Nestor Kirchner, who after his inauguration three months ago launched a series of high-profile initiatives to crack down on impunity and shore up public trust in the government.

Senators also ratified a Chamber of Deputies decision reached last week for Argentina to sign the 1968 Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutes of Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.

The two measures open the door for charges to be brought against hundreds of members of Argentina's security forces suspected of taking part in human rights atrocities during the last military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.

Military leaders who were pardoned fall outside the scope of the new amnesty-busting law.

The Full Stop (1986) and Due Obedience (1987) laws were revoked by the government in 1998, meaning they could no longer be applied to former military leaders suspected of atrocities.

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