Public notice of the Colectivo de Derechos de Infancia y Adolescencia from Argentina
Lucas Matías Mendoza’s Case.
Buenos Aires, August 11th, 2006
The Colectivo de Derechos de Infancia y Adolescencia expresses a deep concern about the situation that young Lucas Matías Mendoza is undergoing. He disappeared last August 5 th from the Penal Institution N* 19 of the Federal Penitentiary Service, where he was serving his 10 th year of prison term.
In a clear contradiction to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, incorporated to our National Constitution in 1990, Lucas had been sentenced to life imprisonment for offences he committed while being 16 years old. Almost blind suffering progressive toxoplasmosis in his right eye and retina loosening in his left, he was lodged in a maximum security building in Devoto Prison. About four month ago he was taken by judicial decision to the Ezeiza Penal Institution, in an action that was bringing him to a transitory freedom regime.
His case, together with those of other young people, was denounced before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which requested the Argentinean State to begin a friendly settlement procedure, without having reached any solution until now.
We cannot be unaware of the illegality frame which is corrupting from the beginning Lucas Mendoza's Case. Neither forget Ricardo David Videla Fernández' death, another young men sentenced to life imprisonment, victim of the same violation, who was found hanged on June 21 st 2005, in a penal institution from the Province of Mendoza, after having informed on letters that his life was in danger and that he was receiving menaces from the penitentiary personnel. This was the first case that reached the ICHR, and is currently under judicial investigation, without any proof which explains his death as a suicide.
There are also well-founded suspicions around the sudden disappearance or absence of Lucas Mendoza from the Ezeiza Penal Institution, something that we hurry to qualify as a runaway or escape by his own will. His severe visual incapacity makes it very difficult to move by himself, and it is redundant to mention the potential danger that this implies, if he by any chance tried to escape from a penal institution.
Up to now nobody knows where Lucas Mendoza is an his health condition. The Colectivo de Derechos de Infancia y Adolescencia has requested judicial and penitentiary authorities to clarify the situation to be able to find him as soon as possible.
Since 1997 Argentina has sentenced at least 14 life imprisonment punishments to adolescents. It is the only country in Latin America with this history.
Colectivo de Derechos de Infancia y Adolescencia