An Argentine court called on Telefónica, the country’s largest phone service provider, to establish basic phone services where technologically viable in Villa 20 (a shantytown in Buenos Aires). Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ), a member of the Global Legal Empowerment Network, filed a collective lawsuit on behalf of Villa 20 over four years ago, denouncing the discriminatory practice of the company in refusing to provide services to these areas. Telefónica argued that the villas are dangerous areas, and that residents destroyed telecommunications installations.
Villa 20 is home to approximately 20,000 people who were systematically discriminated against, Federal Judge Patricia Barbado found. The arbitrary refusal to install phone lines and other communications infrastructure was deemed a violation of the social rights of the inhabitants of Villa 20. Citing both constitutional provisions and the international standards of the San Salvador Protocol on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which emphasizes the right to “live in a healthy environment and to have basic utilities,” the judge ordered Telefónica to reverse its practices.
For further coverage on the ruling (in Spanish), please click here.