The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has accused Argentina's military government of massive rights violations, including murder and torture, and has concluded that "the thousands of 'disappeared detainees'" there "can with reason be presumed dead."
Argentina released the conclusioins of the commission's book-length report on Friday in Buenos Aires and followed up yesterday with a statement rejecting the report as biased.
The commission's full report, reportedly detailing specific government acts and naming officials responsible, was submitted to the Argentine government last month and is to be made public on Monday.
Argentina's advance release of the conclusions apparently was intended to dilute the impact of the long-awaited study. The rejection statements said the report "systematically silenced or minimized positive facts." The government accused the seven-member commission of reaching its conclusions before gathering its facts.
The rights body of the Organization of American States made its on-site investigation last September. While numerous rights groups have documented massive violations as Argentina has suppressed violent opposition to military rule, the findings of the OAS commission are widely respected as being a judgment of the country's peers.
"By action or omission," the report concluded, the Argentine authorities have since a year before the 1976 military takeover "committed numerous and grave violations of the fundamental human rights recognized in the American Declaration of Rights and Duties of Man," of which Argentina is a signatory.
Not only have authorities "killed numerous men and women after detaining them," but they have used "systematic torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading practices," the report concluded.
While for years the Argentine government denied such charges, it recently has suggested that the "disappeared detainees" -- estimated to be at least 10,000 by such groups as Amnesty International -- may have died in what was alleged to be the necessity of cruel measures to overcome subversion.
The government continues to deny that Jews have been a particular target but the commission found that "in practice, in certain cases, there has been discrimatory treatment against some Jews."
In its recommendations, the commission called for "investigations to judge and sanction, with all the rigor of the law, those responsible for the killings."
Argentine Ambassador Jorge Aja Espil said here yesterday that he supposed the government released the conclusions early because it "prefers to give publicity to the report before the commission" and offer its counter-arguments. He noted that the government had taken a similar step several months ago when the State Department issued a critical report on Argentina. His government then gave the text to the Argentine newspapers.
"We are not happy to read these conclusions," he said, but added that it was important for Argentina to "take responsibility for the past while looking to the future."
The commission noted that since its visit to Argentina, rights violations have diminished. It said no disappearances had been reported since October.