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Argentina publishes on December 3 protocol with new rules of engagement concerning use of firearms

On December 3, the Ministry of Security published new rules of engagement concerning the use of firearms by federal security forces. Reports indicate that Security Minister Patricia Bullrich signed the new protocol on November 27 ahead of the Buenos Aires G20 Summit, and delayed the announcement until after that event, which eventually transpired without major incidents. The new protocol establishes that security forces can use firearms when other non-violent means are deemed ineffective. On December 5, 2018, a judge from Buenos Aires decreed the measure to be unconstitutional.

While the protocol is purportedly intended to provide clear criteria regarding the use of fire weapons, left-leaning political actors and human rights organizations in Argentina oppose the measure, arguing that it will enable security forces to commit abuses and repress dissents, especially in the midst of mounting social grievances owing to the country’s economic hardships. That said, pollsters indicate that the majority of the population supports the introduction of the protocol, citing fears over the perceived increase in violent crime. Bearing in mind the judicial provision preventing law enforcement from fully adopting the new rules of engagement, these could potentially be debated in Congress, where the ruling coalition is likely to collect sufficient political backing.

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