International human rights groups on Friday condemned what they said was the use of “indiscriminate” force by police in Argentina´s Formosa province against people protesting tightening restrictions amid a spike in COVID-19 infections.
Local media broadcast images on Friday showing regional police firing rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters in the provincial capital Formosa after authorities moved to close down some businesses to stem the recent increase in cases.
The regional office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the resident coordinator for United Nations Argentina said in a statement they were concerned police had employed “indiscriminate violence that resulted in people being injured and detained.”
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said on its Twitter account that it was concerned over reports that “police officers had used rubber pellets, tear gas and beatings against protesters and journalists.”
President Alberto Fernandez´s chief of staff, Santiago Cafiero, said on Twitter that “the State must guarantee the free peaceful expression of citizens…violence is never the way.”
Formosa, in northern Argentina, is one of the poorest provinces in the South American country and has been hard hit by a recession made worse by the coronavirus crisis. Argentina, a top global grains producer, has reported 2.14 million cases of COVID-19 since March 2020, and more than 52,784 deaths from the disease.