Falklands fury: 'Chilling' plot to criminalise denial of Argentina's 'sovereignty' claim

Falklands fury: 'Chilling' plot to criminalise denial of Argentina's 'sovereignty' claim

ARGENTINA's plan to make the denial of its claim of the Falklands a criminal offence is "chilling", a UK MP has said.

And Andrew Rosindell has vowed to press Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on the issue at the first opportunity. The Tory MP for Romford was speaking after Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez’s Frente de Todos (FdT) party proposed the law, which would make it a criminal offence to dispute his country’s claim over the archipelago it refers to as the Malvinas.

One informed source earlier this week voiced their fears that the legislation, if enacted, could be used to prosecute any Falkland Islander who travelled to Argentina for whatever reason.

Mr Rosindell, who is also chairman of Parliament’s All-Party Group on British Overseas Territories agreed.

He told Express.co.uk: “Across the world, we are seeing the chilling effects of draconian restrictions on free speech, open expression and legitimate political views.

“This is most prominently taking place in Hong Kong, where under the National Security Law the Chinese authorities have criminalised views which advocate breaking away from the mainland or views which are seen as overly critical of the central Government.”

However, he added: “It is also happening in countries which are ostensibly democracies.

“For example, reports have recently emerged from Argentina that the Government is considering legislation which would criminalise anyone who denies Argentinian sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.”

Referring to remarks by Express.co.uk’s source, he added: “There are even concerns that the legislation could be used to prosecute any Falkland Islander ‘who happened to visit the South American country for whatever reason.’”

Mr Rosindell said: “This aggressive assertion of Argentinian sovereignty is belied by the historical record: a thumping defeat in a war of aggression launched by the thuggish Galtieri in 1982 and then a further thumping defeat for Argentina in a 2013 referendum held in the Falkland Islands.

“This proposed law would have a chilling effect on political freedom in Argentina but it also has significant potential ramifications for UK foreign policy.

“When the Commons returns I will be requesting a statement from the Foreign Secretary on this issue.”

The new law is being pushed by 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.

All are attempting to justify the legislation by arguing that punishments are necessary in order to discourage those who "violate and offend the universal legal conscience and the social and democratic pact of Argentines”.

Their joint statement added: "The adoption of this type of measure is based on the proliferation of demonstrations and opinions of undoubted denialism character on historical facts."

As far as the Falklands are concerned, it would apply to anyone 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 explained: ”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 Falklands are located 400 miles from South America and are home to just over 3,000 people.

Then-leader Leopoldo Galtieri’s decision to invade prompted UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to dispatch a task force to the South Atlantic.

After a three-month war which cost the lives of almost 1,000 people, the islands were liberated and Falklands overwhelmingly reaffirmed their commitment to the UK in a referendum in 2013.

However, Buenos Aires has never renounced its claim and has lobbied both the United Nations and Joseph Borrell, the European Union’s top-ranking diplomat, to intercede on its behalf.

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