Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the country’s prison ombudsman (Procuración Penitenciaria de la Nación or PPN), reported that the country’s immigration authority (Dirección Nacional de Migraciones or DNM) had informed them that deportations had been temporarily suspended. This measure was adopted through Disposition 1717/2020 of the DNM ordering the “suspension of expulsion operations ordered by the courts within the framework of Article 64 of Law 25.871 for the term of thirty calendar days, from 17 March 2020.” This suspension was then extended by DNM Disposition 1923/2020 of 17 April and subsequently by DNM Disposition 2205/2020 of 14 May. Nonetheless, the PPN reported that six Bolivian nationals detained at the ‘Complejo Penitenciario Federal de CABA’ were expelled from Argentina through the land border with Bolivia and further expulsions are planned. In addition, three Spanish citizens are waiting to be expelled to their country as well. These expulsions were carried out with coordinated efforts between the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of the Nation (Ministerio de Justicia y Derechos Humanos de la Nación) and the respective embassies or consulates. The PPN indicated that they tried obtaining further information in this respect, but were unsuccessful in doing so.
The PPN also reported that the national state of emergency measures have had an impact upon immigration policies. According to the Decree of Necessity and Urgency (Decreto de Necesidad y Urgencia or DNU) 274/2020 of 16 March, non-residents were prohibited from entering the country’s territory through ports, airports, and all other entry points. Initially, borders were closed for 15 days, with the possibility to extend if the measure was deemed necessary. On 27 March, according to DNU 274/2020, the prohibition of entry was extended to include all residents and Argentinean nationals residing out of the country. The prohibition of entry for Argentinean nationals residing outside of the country was lifted on 1 April through DNU 331/2020, while all other restrictions were kept in place. Only the Ezeiza International Airport was opened along with specific border crossing points:
– Paso de los Libres/Uruguayana (border crossing to Brazil)
– Gualeguaychu/Fray Bentos (border crossing to Uruguay)
– Salvador Mazza / Yacuiba (border crossing to Bolivia)
– Cristo Redentor (border crossing to Chile)
– Paso San Sebastian (border crossing to Chile)
Further, the prohibition of entry onto national territory was subsequently extended until 24 May through DNU 493/2020. The PPN indicated that these measures in addition to lockdown measures have made it impossible for people to circulate through the territory.
In responding to the GDP Covid-19 survey questions, the PPN also indicated that they did not have information concerning whether the country had put in place a moratorium on new immigration detention orders nor did they have information regarding whether immigration detainees had been released. In addition, the PPN stated that they did not have access to information regarding whether immigration detainees are tested for Covid-19 or as regards what measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of the disease within detention centres and penitentiaries.
Concerning the country’s prisons, on 27 May President Alberto Fernandez announced the construction of 12 hospital units (288 beds) for prisons in the province of Buenos Aires to ensure that prisoners are isolated to prevent the spread of Covid-19. According to Prison Insider’s “World Map of Coronavirus in Prison,” one prisoner has died from Covid-19 and there are 68 infected prisoners in the country’s prisons.
- Procuración Penitenciaria de la Nación, Global Detention Project Covid-19 survey, 12 June 2020.
- Página 12, “Unidades Sanitarias para Cárceles,” 27 May 2020, https://www.pagina12.com.ar/268444-unidades-sanitarias-para-carceles
- Prison Insider and Justice Project Pakistan, “Cartographie du Coronavirus en Prison,” 29 April 2020, https://www.prison-insider.com/articles/cartographie-du-coronavirus-en-prison
- Prisoners Rioting on the Roof of the Villa Devoto Prison, (Getty Images, “Coronavirus en Argentina: por qué genera tanta polémica la decisión de sacar de la cárcel a algunos presos por riesgo a que contraigan el Covid-19,” BBC News, 1 May 2020, https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-america-latina-52496655)