President Mauricio Macri has been struck by an unexpected headache in an area that interests him greatly: international politics.
From the office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights, a note has arrived for his government, referring to a number of alleged abuses and interventions in Argentina's Judiciary and asking for explanations.
Former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet leads the UN body. Just a few months ago, she condemned human rights violations committed by the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Macri's government celebrated that report, especially as it was signed off by a former ally of Maduro with a respected and renowned career.
Now, the clock is ticking. Macri and his government have less than 60 days to respond to the report and avoid compromising the international image he sought to create during his tenure as president.
The Argentina report is signed by Diego García-Sayán, the UN's special rapporteur for the independence of the judges and courts. It enumerates a series of events that made healines in Argentina during the Macri administration's time in office.
It begins with the use of the discipline committee within the Consejo de la Magistratura ("Council of Magistrates"), the body that selects judges and oversees the courts, to pressure judges. The committee been a tool of coercion since the constitutional reform of 1994, and now it will gain international attention.
Other alleged abuses included in the report are:
- The designation of two judges on the Supreme Court by decree (namely Supreme Court Chief Justice Carlos Rosenkrantz and Supreme Court Justice Horacio Rosatti)
- The alleged attack on Argentina's top prosecutor, the Procuradora General de la Nación, or Attorney General Alejandra Gils Carbó (who later resigned from office)
- The “illegal” designation of Judge Juan Manuel Culotta in La Plata
- The “illegal” designation of Judge Carlos Mahiques to the Federal Chamber of Criminal Cassation
- The “illegal designation” of Judge Leopoldo Bruglia in the Federal Appeals Court
- Alleged attacks against judges and labour lawyers
- Alleged manipulation of the prosecutors in the Correo Argentino case
- Alleged attacks against the federal judge in Dolores, Buenos Aires Province, Alejo Ramos Padilla.
The final page of the document asks the Macri government, through its Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie, to respond to every point, one by one, and to provide the relevant explanations within a maximum timeframe of 60 days. These responses will be included in a final report that will be sent to the UN's Human Rights Council.
However, in 60 days Macri will no longer be president. Now, we will have to wait and see if his administration decides to answer the note – or whether to pass it on to the next government led by Alberto Fernández.