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Argentina: Defamation against human rights lawyer Dr Diego Jorge Lavado
On 23 October 2012, human rights defender Dr Diego Jorge Lavado filed a complaint in relation to the appearance of a number of posters in the streets around the Court of Mendoza.
The posters contained a photo of the human rights defender as well as insults against him and his work. Dr Diego Jorge Lavado is a well-known human rights lawyer in Mendoza who has represented victims in local trial for crimes against humanity.
On the morning of 19 October 2012, Dr Diego Lavado received word that overnight a number of posters had been put up in the vicinity of the Court of Mendoza mentioning him. The posters display a photo of Dr Diego Lavado and the texts, “Diego Lavado 'Vulture' of Human Rights” and “Defender of criminals, he profiteers from victims and relatives, yes he is the lawyer of the devil, not of human rights”.
Later that day, around 7pm, Dr Diego Lavado also received an anonymous phone call from a woman who identified herself as either a current or an ex-policewoman. She informed Dr Diego Lavado that the posters against him had been motivated by his efforts to resist a recent law, known as the 'mano dura' (“hard hand”, or hard-liner approach) or Petri law. This law, nicknamed after its main proponent, Mendoza legislator Luis Petri, aims to attach significantly stricter conditions to early release from prison for convicted perpetrators of violent crimes. The defamatory posters are believed to be linked to far-right groups who are strongly opposed to Dr Diego Lavado's efforts to have the law declared unconstitutional. The human rights defender filed a complaint with the office of the prosecutor on 23 October 2012.
As a lawyer, Dr Diego Lavado has represented victims in the third Mendoza trial for crimes against humanity. Together with other local lawyers, he has also been a strong opponent of inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners in Mendoza's penitentiary institutions. For this reason, he and a number of other fellow lawyers have been the victims of threats and intimidation on a number of previous occasions.