Petter Slaatrem Titland, leader of Attac Norway, has been expelled to Brazil from Argentina where he was to attend the WTO summit. This happens after Argentina without any official reason has withdrawn his accreditation to the WTO summit. A total of 63 people were banned, but after receiving pressure from their home country, several received back the accreditation. The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not been able to do this so far.
Similar exclusion of civil society has never happened before in the history of the WTO, and the Financial Times among others calls the exclusion a «shame for the WTO» and FT’s trade editor says on Twitter, «This is silly …» . EU Commerce Commissar Cecilia Malmstrøm has strongly criticized the exclusion in a public letter to Argentina. The WTO itself has also attempted to turn the Argentinian authorities into turning.
Nobody has received a clear statement from the Argentinian authorities about why their accreditation has been removed, but on their own websites they claim that this is for security reasons and that those who denied access to the summit have «urged violence and want to spread chaos .»
The allegations are blatant lies by the Argentinian authorities. This becomes clear when you see those who are denied access. Here you will find international trade union umbrellas, the Belgian association for Assistance Organizations 11.11.11, Friends of the Earth International, Veterinarians Without Borders, German Department of Oxfam Assistance, and a number of researchers and academics.
The assertion of Attac as a security threat has no root in reality. Titland was informed at the airport as follows:
You know why
Look at your website
Of course, feel free have a look at our website.
To Reuters, a spokesperson for the Argentine Foreign Ministry says they find the blacklisted individuals and organizations «more disruptive than constructive».In other words, they admit that these organisations are denied since they are critics of trade policies and this might «disrupt» the negotitations.
Titland is now in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with a police order that he will be sent to Florianópolis (also in Brazil and the city he traveled from).
Titland received legal advice from the Argentine Human Rights Organization «Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales» (CELS) and addressed a formal complaint on the expulsion. Then the border control accelerated the expulsion so that he was sent out of the country before a judicial decision could be made. Therefore he is now sent via Sao Paulo, instead of directly to Florianópolis which was the original message.
The Norwegian Foreign Minister is now in Buenos Aires and says she will condemn the expulsion and the barring of NGOs from the WTO meeting. Parliamentary representative Liv Signe Navarsete (Center Party) is also in Buenos Aires now and is informed of the expulsion of Titland and has contacted the Foreign Minister about the issue.
Titland first received this message that his accreditation had been withdrawn after traveling from Norway, and therefore chose to travel from Brazil to Argentina as planned. He had not received official notice that he was denied entry. He landed at 16:40 local time and was held in passport control. He was held for over an hour without any clear message at all. Then he was asked to sign papers, but denied this without a lawyer or representative from the embassy present.
The UD and the embassy are oriented, but have not been able to resolve the matter. Argentinian human rights activists from Amnesty and CELS have also tried to help in contact with immigration authorities, and believe that the way this happens is not in line with Argentinian laws. The Argentinian authorities have said that matter now is closed as he has left the country, but our legal help has appealed this.
Leader of Attac Norway, Petter Slaatrem Titland, email@example.com, phone: +47 95038128 (fluent in Spanish and English)
Helene Bank, chair for the Norwegian Trade Campaign, phone + 47 92 66 75 18, firstname.lastname@example.org (English)