Thursday
October 23, 2014

Following weeks of opposition criticism

Friday, March 21, 2014

K allies defend Penal Code reform

By Luciana Bertoia
Herald Staff
Staunch Kirchnerite activists doubled down on their support of the Penal Code reform draft following weeks of opposition criticism — but none of the members of the commission who participated in the drafting of the proposed reform took part in the defense of the project.

A group of ruling Victory Front (FpV) lawmakers, members of the pro-judicial reform association, Legitimate Justice, and human rights activists, yesterday met to insist on the discussion of the draft presented last month by Supreme Court Justice Eugenio Zaffaroni.

Yet in a marked absence none of the members of the multi-party commission that drafted the code took part in yesterday’s press conference that was led by former prosecutor Hugo Cañón, the head of the Buenos Aires province Commission for Memory (CPM), and journalist Horacio Verbitsky, the head of the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS).

“We reject the attempts to halt the discussion,” the document read.

The multi-party commission led by Zaffaroni included former Security minister León Arslanián, former Radical party lawmaker Ricardo Gil Lavedra, María Elena Barbagelata (Socialist Party) and Federico Pinedo (PRO). While Sergio Massa’s Renewal Front was the first to oppose the reform, several opposition leaders — including Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri also criticized the reform.

Miguel Garrido was the only member of the Radical Party who was at the press conference, despite the UCR chairman Ernesto Sanz saying his political force was not going to vote for the Penal Code reform bill if and when the president decides to submit it to Congress.

“Civil society is demanding a debate. I don’t think this is a contradiction. This document is aimed at improving discussion despite of our opinions of the draft,” Garrido told the Herald. Verbitsky agreed.

“We want to discuss this issue. We can’t establish social accord by destroying these broader agreements between political forces,” Verbitsky told the Herald. “The main goal is to reduce levels of violence but the way a group of mayors reacted to this proposal — mayors who rule in those places where the biggest drug-trafficking gangs are located — seems too strong.”

Asked by this newspaper if the CELS had criticisms over certain points of the draft, Verbitsky said: “Hundreds. But that’s not the point. What’s important is how discussions are held in our country.”

The document unveiled yesterday was also backed by some human rights organizations, such as Mothers of Plaza de Mayo—Founding Line, Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Relatives of Detained-Disappeared for Political Reasons, HIJOS — which gathers together children of disappeared parents — the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (APDH) from the City of La Plata and anti-human trafficking foundation María de los Ángeles.

Despite President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner announcing during her state-of-the-nation speech that she was determined to pass the Civil and Commercial Code and the Penal Code reform bills, the absence of several Kirchnerite lawmakers raised questions about whether that goal will be pursued.

@lucianabertoia

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