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The Role of the International Community
In addition to the investigations opened by Judge Baltazar Garzón in Spain, in August 1998 a German court opened a case relating to the 1976 “disappearance” of an Argentine-German citizen, Guillermo Augusto Engel, while in the same month it was announced that campaigns had been organized in various European countries to collect 500,000 signatures in favor of trials of former human rights violators in Argentina and Chile. President Menem was faced with similar petitions by members of the governments of Spain, Finland, and Sweden during state visits to those countries.

Organization of American States
The Organization of American States — through its Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Inter-American Court of Human Rights — also continued to play an important role in monitoring human rights in Argentina, including cases of deaths in police custody, “disappearances,” persecution of journalists, and abuse of preventive detention. In March 1997, the inter-American commission found that Argentina had violated the rights to personal liberty, presumption of innocence, and the right to trial within a reasonable time in twenty-three specific cases in which individuals had been held in preventive detention for periods ranging from three to nearly seven years. The commission called on Argentina to revise its pre-trial detention practices and immediately release those individuals held in contravention of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. Both the inter-American commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights were also active in pursuing friendly settlements, including indemnity payments forrelatives, in the cases of prisoners “disappeared” after their detention by police and in which the Argentine state had recognized its responsibility. These included the case of Paulo Cristián Guardatti, “disappeared” after detention by the Mendoza provincial police in 1992, in which a friendly settlement was accepted in late 1997. In the cases of Adolfo Garrido and Raúl Baigorria, “disappeared” in 1990 after detention by the same force, the court turned down a solution proposed by Argentina, leaving the case under court scrutiny in 1998.

United States
In its 1998 report, the U.S. Department of State noted in particular the ongoing series of threats against journalists and attacks on press freedom, as well as highlighting the case of José Luis Cabezas who, it stated, appeared to have been killed due to his participation in investigations of criminal activities by the police. The report also noted telephoned threats during 1997 against the organization Periodistas, established two years earlier to defend independent journalism in the face of ongoing threats.













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