E/CN.4/2004/3/Add.3 page 2 Executive summary The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention visited Argentina from 22 September to 2 October 2003 at the invitation of the Argentine Government. It visited the Federal Capital and the provinces of Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Salta. Both in the city of Buenos Aires and in the provincial capitals, the delegation had lengthy meetings with officials from the executive, the legislature and the judiciary, as well as with representatives of civil society organizations. The Working Group visited 11 detention centres, including penitentiaries, prisons, youth custody centres and police stations; some of its visits were unannounced. It also had individual meetings, in private and without witnesses, with 205 detainees. The Working Group regrets that, owing to logistical problems beyond its control, it was unable to visit the province of Santiago del Estero, which it had been particularly interested in visiting. The Working Group observed that the policy of the new Argentine Government is based on defending and promoting human rights and on combating impunity and corruption, and that the Government has taken important measures in these areas in the few months it has been in office. However, the Working Group notes with concern the excessive use and length of pre-trial detention, which may legally last for three years and in practice lasts even longer; the lack of effective remedies for detention; the little use made of alternatives to detention; problems with regard to access to free legal assistance and the problems experienced by detainees in communicating with their defence lawyers; the excessive powers of the police to arrest and detain individuals for committing minor offences or in order to check their background or identity; excessive use of detention not only for children who commit offences or misdemeanours but also as a protection measure; and the powers of the administrative authorities to place foreign migrants in detention without providing them with an effective and timely judicial remedy. In its report, the Working Group recommends that the Argentine Government should take urgent measures to improve the human rights situation of detainees, particularly their right to due process; review its legislation and practices in the area of pre-trial detention; closely monitor the activities of senior and junior police officers; support the work of prosecutors investigating the criminal practice of falsifying police procedures; implement in full the Convention on the Rights of the Child with regard to the detention of juveniles; and guarantee an effective judicial remedy for administrative orders to detain immigrants. The Working Group encourages the Government to continue with its efforts to decriminalize social protest while maintaining public order and respecting the rights of third parties.