An Argentine court ruled this week that the adopted children of one of the country’s largest media group must submit to DNA tests to determine if they were stolen as babies during Argentina's military dictatorship.
Lawyers for the adoptee said it was unconstitutional to order them to submit to the tests against their will. Human rights groups, meanwhile, were angered the judges limited the scope of the search and vowed to appeal that part of the ruling.
Argentina’s top criminal appellate court said Marcela and Felipe Noble Herrera must submit blood, saliva, skin, hair or other biological samples ... with or without their consent for analysis in the National Genetics Databank, which has collected thousands of DNA samples from relatives of people who were killed or disappeared during the 1976-83 junta.
Hundreds of these families have some reason to believe a baby could have been taken from a female relative who was taken away by security forces as an enemy of the (1976/1983) dictatorship and never seen again.
The court added a limit to the tests. It said the DNA of the Noble Herrera children can be compared only against families of people known to have disappeared before the dates on their 1976 adoption papers.
Human rights activists complained that the time limit could thwart efforts to reveal the adoptee' true identities.
The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo said the adoption paperwork has been determined by a judge to be fraudulent, so the DNA should be compared against the entire database for all the years of the dictatorship
The group has tried in court for more than ten years to determine if Marcela and Felipe Noble Herrera were taken from women in clandestine torture centres in the early days of the dictatorship and illegally adopted by Ernestina Herrera de Noble, who owns the influential Grupo Clarin media conglomerate.
The Grandmothers have succeeded in recovering the identities of 104 such adoptee so far, and believe about 400 others were stolen as babies. The illegal adoption of any person whose DNA matches the families of the Junta's victims is considered a crime against humanity under Argentine law.
Marcela and Felipe Noble Herrera adoptee, now in their 30 have fiercely defended their adoptive mother and say they have no desire to know their birth families.
Argentina's Supreme Court ruled in 2009 against the forced extraction of blood from such adoptee, but said DNA evidence can still be obtained against their will by searching their homes for clothing and other personal objects.
The government of President Cristina Fernandez and of her deceased husband and former president Nestor Kirchner, after an initial ‘honeymoon’ is at loggerheads with the Clarin group and has tried by all means to prune their influence forcing them under controversial legislation to split the group divesting from broadcasting and television stations and cable.
The conflict is now in the courts. The Kirchner administrations accuse the Clarin group to have played to the tune of the military dictatorship silencing information and taking economic advantage of such an attitude which was rewarded with ‘monopolistic privileges” that subsist.