Derechos Denounces Argentine Newspaper Attack on Equipo NizkorApril 17, 1997 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Margarita Lacabe email@example.com (510) 528-7794 Derechos Human Rights Press Release Derechos Human Rights today denounced the Argentine newspaper Pagina 12 for repeating unsubstantiated allegations against a well-known human rights organization and advocate. In its edition of Thursday, April 17, Pagina 12 repeated allegations that were published in the Spanish magazine Tiempo on April 7. The article, published under a pseudonym, alleged that Gregorio Dionis of Nizkor was collaborating with Argentine secret agents to confuse Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon in the trial of members of the Argentine military for the torture, murders, and disappearances of Spanish citizens during the military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983. In the article, Mr. Dionis is described as a phantom figure feeding false information to Judge Garzon. In fact, Mr. Dionis is a devoted proponent of human rights and has worked vigorously against the impunity enjoyed by many Latin American militaries. He has worked with and earned the respect of Argentine human rights groups such as the Peace and Justice Service, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Linea Fundadora), Families of the Detained and Disappeared, and H.I.J.O.S. to promote human rights in Argentina. All the information Mr. Dionis and Equipo Nizkor have provided the investigating judge, was in fact previously checked by these organizations for accuracy. According to Michael Katz-Lacabe, Executive Director of Derechos, "In the time that we have had the pleasure of working with Mr. Dionis, he has always been an energetic and untiring advocate for human rights. These unsubstantiated allegations against Mr. Dionis indicate that his advocacy for human rights and justice have struck a nerve. The baseless accusations against Mr. Dionis are reminiscent of the techniques used by the Argentine dictatorship to discredit its opponents and hide its shameful human rights record." The Pagina 12 article repeated the assertion that the Spanish leftist party Izquierda Unida had refused to work with Mr. Dionis. However, Isabelo Herreros, the Secretary of Human Rights and Liberties for Izquierda Unida, in a letter to Tiempo, denied that assertion and others made in the original Tiempo article. The baseless accusations repeated by Pagina 12 could easily have been corrected if proper journalism techniques or even the most cursory investigation had been performed. While the misspelling of Nizkor as "Nizcor" can be excused as a typo, Pagina 12 (and Tiempo) failed to contact any of the individuals mentioned in the article. Instead, unsubstantiated allegations were published as if they were fact. Derechos Human Rights encourages Pagina 12 to conduct even a cursory investigation of the reported matters before printing stories that purport to injure esteemed human rights workers and contribute to the impunity of human rights violators
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