The appellants were accused of running textile ateliers (3) where several Bolivian migrants were employed. At least 12 were in Argentina in irregular situation.
Some migrants lived with their families in the work place, where – according to the Prosecution – sanitary conditions were substandard.
The ateliers were set in adjacent estates. There was a close relationship between the appellants, notably three of them were brothers.
The prosecution argued that the defendants carried out illegal activities – i.e. facilitation of illegal stay of migrants in Argentina – as a regular activity. In supporting this claim, it noted that, on 7 April 2006, during an inspection carried out into the ateliers, the General Directorate for the Protection of Work (Dirección General para la Protección del Trabajo) identified several workers/migrants. The latter were also present and identified during searches made in the investigative phase of criminal proceedings.
In ascertaining the facts, authorities resorted to (i) declarations of the appellant, (ii) declarations of witnesses and migrants, (iii) searches and seizures, including to the building where the textile atelier operated.
The Investigative Magistrate upheld the arguments of the Public Prosecutor and considered the appellants prima facie co-responsible for migrant smuggling, in the modality of “facilitating illegal stay with the purpose of obtaining, directly or indirectly, a benefit”. It further concluded for the existence of aggravating circumstances: (i) carrying out such acts as a regular activity, (ii) endangering the life, health and integrity of migrants. The Investigative Magistrate declared the precautionary detention of the appellants. The Court of Appeal reversed the decision.
For further details see “Commentary”.