Argentina plots law making it a crime to deny their claim on the Falkland Islands
And one informed source told Express.co.uk they feared if ratified the legislation could be used to prosecute any Falkland Islander who happened to visit the South American country for whatever reason. President Alberto Fernandez’s Frente de Todos (FdT) party, which is gearing up for national elections next month, has unveiled proposals for punishments for anyone who denies Argentinian sovereignty over the islands which it refers to as the Malvinas.
The sanctions would also apply to deny crimes against humanity or war crimes, as well as those deemed to be disrespecting public health policies - by for example publicly objecting to coronavirus restrictions.
The idea is the brainchild of Walter Correa, a member of the National Congress of Argentina, and has the support of colleagues Vanesa Siley, Hugo Yansky, Carlos Ortega, Pablo Carro, María Rosa Martínez, Claudia Ormachea, Carlos Cisneros, and Alicia Figueroa.
They have sought to justify their move by saying punishments are necessary to discourage those who "violate and offend the universal legal conscience and the social and democratic pact of Argentines."
They add: "The adoption of this type of measure is based on the proliferation of demonstrations and opinions of undoubted denialism character on historical facts."
In relation to the Falklands the law would be applicable to anybody who "publicly denies, underestimates or in any way disrespects the sovereignty of Argentina over the Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and the corresponding maritime and insular spaces, recognised in the First Transitory Provision of the National Constitution”.
The deputies explain: ”It is necessary to reinforce a punitive system on this type of denialism, as well as to recognise a sanctioning system from the civil point of view that allows the victims to seek the cessation of those actions and the reparation of the damages caused."
The insider, who has visited both Argentina and the Falklands on a number of occasions, said the prospect of such legislation carried serious implications.
They explained: “If it were ever passed, such a law would also have an effect on things like international conferences held in Argentina.
“Diplomats with immunity from prosecution could deny Argentine sovereignty, but ordinary members of the public could not.”
They added: “Also, I assume that as the Argentines consider that the Falklands are Argentine, it could be used against any Islander who publicly disagreed with the Argentine position while in the Falklands - and then visited Argentina.
“People like me would be wise to stay away too.”
The Falklands, located 400 miles from South America, is home to just over 3,000 people and remains a British Overseas Territory despite Argentina’s longstanding claim.
In 2013, 98.8 percent of votes cast in a sovereignty referendum were in favour of retaining links with the UK.
Argentina invaded the islands in 1982 but was defeated in a short but bloody war after then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher dispatched a task force to the south Atlantic.
Nevertheless, it has never relinquished its claim and has stepped up diplomatic efforts to press its case under Mr Fernandez, including lobbying Josep Borrell, the EU’s foreign policy supremo, on the subject last year.
In a bullish’ pre-recorded speech to the 75th United Nations General Assembly in September, Mr Fernandez said: "I want to reaffirm the legitimate and imprescriptible sovereign rights of the Argentine Republic over the Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime spaces, which are an integral part of the national territory of Argentina and which have been illegally occupied by the United Kingdom for more than 187 years.
"This year it will be the 55th anniversary of resolution 2065, the first one adopted by this organisation on this issue, which asked Argentina and the United Kingdom to hold negotiations that would allow reaching a peaceful and definitive solution to this sovereignty dispute.
"That order has remained in force and has been renewed many times."
He added: "The United Kingdom persists in its attitude of ignoring the call to resume negotiations regarding the territorial dispute and has aggravated the controversy over calls for the illegal and unilateral exploitation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources in the area, which is contrary to resolution 31/49 of this assembly.
"The UK also insists on the excessive and unjustified military presence on the islands that does nothing more than bringing tension to a region characterised by being a zone of peace and international cooperation."