Universal Periodic Review: a unique opportunity to improve human rights situation in Argentina
On January 23, Argentina will be evaluated once again within the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR). This is a unique opportunity to address some of the risks still faced by human rights in our country and to show willingness to tackle them to the rest of the international community. The Association for Civil Rights (ADC) urges the Argentinian government to adopt the proposed recommendations or undertake to do so and move towards strengthening one of the pillars that make up our democracy.
This is the fourth time that Argentina will be under scrutiny of the UPR, and given the chance to participate, receive suggestions from other States, and take the oath to improve its situation regarding the issue..
ADC strongly adheres to the process and deems it vital, as it is conceived to foster, uphold and expand the scope of human rights protection. Accordingly, we provided input to the Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR) in previous cycles and did so again last year by submitting three contributions, one on our own, one with Privacy International, and another in collaboration with IFEX LAC. We also subscribed to two other submissions, one with Access Now and the other with Amnesty International, ACIJ (Civil Association for Equality and Justice), FARN (Environment and Natural Resources Foundation), Sur Argentina Foundation, INECIP (Institute for Comparative Studies in Criminal and Social Sciences) and Fundación Poder Ciudadano (Citizen Power Foundation).
Representatives from other States are also required to raise questions and make recommendations based on the information collected.
Three points in conflict
ADC’s presentations are focused on three main concerns:
1. The failure to appoint a National Ombudsperson, an office vacant since 2009. This is an anomalous situation that leaves the Argentinian people in a state of institutional vulnerability as to the defense of their basic rights. The Argentinian Congress is breaching a constitutional mandate and we call for its immediate remedy.
2. Privacy protection in surveillance technologies, especially the expansion of facial recognition in public spaces, leakages in public databases, mobile forensic extraction tools, and health data. Given the increasing concerns from civil society, we call for a ban on facial recognition technologies for surveillance and an update in the data protection laws dfollowing international human rights standards.
3. Threats to freedom of expression and association in the digital sphere. Among other issues, we request that the human rights framework be applied when evaluating cyber patrolling and that security forces be banned from doing intelligence work on social media.
In addition to our written contributions, ADC carried out advocacy during the 42nd pre-sessions held by UPR Info at the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, between November 29 and December 3, 2022.
What is the UPR?
The Universal Periodic Review is a unique process involving a periodical inquiry of the human rights situation in the 193 Member States of the United Nations. Over a four-and-a-half-year period, each State is assessed by the others on its human rights record. Every year, 42 countries are reviewed individually in small groups during three sessions.
The UPR is a circular process comprising three stages. First is an actual assessment of the human rights situation in the country under review. Second comes the adoption of the recommendations submitted by the other States and the commitments voluntarily undertaken in the previous stage to improve the protection of human rights. Finally, the country under assessment is expected to inform on the steps taken to implement the recommendations made during the first review.
The evaluation stage consists of an interactive dialogue between the State under review and the others, based on a national report submitted by the former and written answers to the questions raised by the others beforehand. In addition, the review considers two other documents prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); one compiling information submitted by UN Treaty Bodies, agencies, and Special Procedures, and another with input from civil society.
At the end of the review process, an Outcome Report is drawn up with a summary of the interactive discussion, the recommendations submitted by the different States, an indication whether the country under review adopts or takes them into considerationb, and the voluntary pledges it makes to improve its human rights situation.