Opinion: A law tailored to a punitive government

Opinion: A law tailored to a punitive government
Opinion: A law tailored to a punitive government

On June 28, the Minister of Justice Cuneo Libarona and the minister Patricia Bullrich They presented at a press conference a new Juvenile Criminal Law project, which declares the low criminal liability at 13 years of age. As a worker of the Council of Rights of Girls, Boys and Adolescents of CABA, and trained to work with children and adolescents in line with other specialist voices, I can only express the absolute rejection of this project. A project that when presented with the founding speech that “In the face of impunity, it is unacceptable, we must react“It hides behind its reactionary and retrograde ideology, which is the one that prevails in the authorities of the organization where I work as a social worker, accompanying situations, stories and life projects of boys and girls who have had one or many of their rights violated.

The adjustment in the Council of Rights of Children and Adolescents (CDNNyA)

The CDNNYA is an organization that belongs directly to the Executive Branch of the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. It is presented as one specialized in childhood that aims to promote, protect and guarantee the rights of all girls, boys and adolescents. It was created by law 114 of CABA, a pioneer in our country on the subject. It has recently suffered a violation, in 2021, when it stops supporting the specificities in the execution of its programs in the face of the different situations that children go through. In an attempt at transversality, it dismantles a history of professional specificities and the phrase that presents the CDNNyA no longer has any practical basis. It then ceases to be a specialized and controlling organization of other devices that work with children since they would become part of the same, then it becomes only one that works with children and adolescents. Likewise, these programs and areas of the Childhood Directorate of the Ministry of Human Development and Habitat are dismantled and their personnel are compulsorily transferred to the organization without consultation, losing all historicity, construction of professional and work experience and, as already mentioned, specificity in the topics. This dismantling has the consequence of losing the reference of many children who had in each program and area with their respective workers a concrete space of containment in the face of their specific problems and their comprehensive reality. Without prejudice to the loss of budget for each of the areas and programs dismantled, to be provided with a single budget of the organization, which clearly ends up being scarce for everything that it must now cover.

It also ceases to belong to the Executive Branch as established by the Law that gave rise to it and is transferred for a period of time between the end of 2023 and May 2024. Not without complaints from its workers and visibility of the illegality. However, since December 2023, the Council’s workers have been experiencing personal mistreatment, workplace violence and institutional violence, once again being the objects of a dehumanizing reorganization, which occurs with misinformation, confusion and wear and tear on the workers.

In turn, this workplace violence translates into concrete facts such as the appearance of unjustified absences and deductions for non-existent absences, which not only make wages precarious, which are already below the poverty line, but also set a precedent for arguing for possible layoffs of plant personnel. Not to mention the loss of jobs that colleagues have already suffered since the beginning of the year in this organization, where, as has been shouted in the streets, ““No one is left out.”

This is how, in the midst of this dismantling of public policies for children and adolescents and the mistreatment of workers by these policies and their discipline, they present this illegal bill. Adding to the cruelty of this national government, which comes and enables the emptying of the state also in the City with Jorge Macri that lead to layoffs or cause resignations due to being fed up with institutionalized violence.

No kid is born a thief

It is not only the Executive Branch that is using the chainsaw to attack rights, but in collusion with the Judiciary they are referring to the progressive autonomy of adolescents to believe that they have the capacity to know that what they are doing is done with full awareness and knowledge, when we understand that an adolescent cannot make a decision with full will if what the law proposes is that their autonomy is relative because they are still developing people and therefore not an adult who can be held responsible, and with full knowledge of the results or effects of their actions.

But of course it is always cut to the thinnest part, instead of grabbing the big fish they go to the kid, who is not offered any possibility to choose and develop his life project. Born in vulnerable conditions, with adjustment policies that tighten more than ever and do not allow the food plate to reach their tables. The kid has within reach the “dealer” or “point” who is, excuse the redundancy, “the tip of the iceberg” of everything that hides beneath, from the kid who is given the gun to go out and steal, “to settle accounts” or go out to “fight the corner” from drug sales.

Just as Cúneo says, “violence, drug trafficking, gun battle, fight between two gangs of minors” (a term that the national law on the protection of rights came to banish from the language on this subject) …“It is a serious problem that requires an urgent solution”. Because as the Official Gazette states, it presents the reduction of imputability “It is public knowledge that crime takes advantage of children and adolescents to commit crimes,” and that serious problem is indeed a “debt that is owed” (as he continues to refer to), and there is a historical debt in policies for children and adolescents with a view to their true protection in concrete terms and with certain future prospects. On the contrary, the void is one of fear and the children grow up totally unprotected and exposed, so and repeating his words it is necessary “provide security to society”but it is clear that the word security in their mouths has a very different meaning to what is really needed, which is care for this ethereal fringe of society, and therefore this is a real debt to society as a whole.

Previous attempts that came to nothing

There were already attempts like this in 2019 and in 2022. The government in 2019 presented a draft juvenile criminal law that had already been announced by the Minister of Justice in 2017. German Garavanoaimed at those over 15 and under 18 years of age. But with the difference that homicides would have a prison sentence that should be as short as possible in time, unlike the current project that proposes life imprisonment. The government at that time acted in disregard of the observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child made to the Argentine State in June 2018, the analyses of Unicef ​​Argentina and the National Secretariat for Children, Adolescents and Family.

In 2022, the Pro unearthed the bill on juvenile responsibility to lower the age of criminal responsibility, this time to 14 years of age. Even betting on the creation of a Juvenile Criminal Justice jurisdiction and with an idea of ​​restorative justice that appealed to recognize the differences that exist between people.

This would be the third attempt in 5 years. State agencies have the non-delegable responsibility of establishing, controlling and guaranteeing compliance with public policies of a federal nature. The State must always keep in mind the best interests of the people subject to this law and the privileged allocation of public resources that guarantee them. Any action or omission that opposes this principle constitutes an act contrary to the fundamental rights of girls, boys and adolescents (Law 26.061).

So we should ask ourselves what is happening with this government that does not fulfill its responsibility. And given that this Law in its art. 4 states that public policies for children and adolescents will be developed according to the following guidelines: a) Strengthening the role of the family in the realization of the rights of girls, boys and adolescents… they should ask themselves why they do not comply. This law is framed within the principles established by the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which as an international convention ratified by Argentina has constitutional status. Therefore, once again they act against international treaties to which the country adheres. They are the unconstitutional and anti-rights government par excellence. Once again paraphrasing the Minister of Justice in the aforementioned conference, with this Law “We are going to give the judges the necessary tools”but to take away all rights of adolescents to be protected in their right not to be equated with adults and to be charged as if they were.

A debt of democracy

Children and adolescents have a huge gap in the care that should be given by the powers of the state. And if we follow the minister’s speech and take the phrase that “There was no justice”we can say that it is true that there is no such thing in this society in which a few have what millions do not, that those few take away from those millions, and within these millions are the kids from the most vulnerable sectors, who are left out of everything, who are excluded from the possibility of studying due to the lack of accessibility to institutions, due to the scarce resources that their families have, due to the null opportunity that adults have to access the labor system. So again, taking your words, changing this injustice would be necessary to “give to each his own.”

What is needed are public policies for children and adolescents that support the construction of different strategies for the daily organization of a home. Policies that have the child at the center and that their Best Interest is the leitmotiv of those policies. Policies that provide decent living conditions, that restore their right to live in decent housing, to education, to health, to recreation, among others. And that these rights are guaranteed by the State. Policies that also offer opportunities to the adults who raise and care for them, to access a job, that is decent and that allows them to get out of the situation of vulnerability that they are going through. In short, policies with a focus on Human Rights. If the “twine” that is going to pay the International Monetary Fund should be placed in budgets for quality policies, with content and with concrete contributions that allow the full enjoyment of rights of adults and children, there would not be a single kid on the streets, nor looking for easy ways out offered by those who are always willing to screw up their lives for their own benefit.

And given the circumstances, we will be in the streets as we have been in those years when they wanted to attack us and we said no to the decline, and as we were in the streets, whenever it was needed, and every time since this administration began when it attacked any right and we will continue to be there until we get rid of Milei, all his accomplices and end his plan. Seeking to strengthen the left as an alternative to power, to offer a different government option to all those who have always gone against the workers and the most vulnerable.

 
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