The zeal to strictly comply with health measures reached an unusual end in a small town in Argentina when a 10-year-old girl was arrested for not wearing a mask. The youngest spent nearly an hour in a police station and was forced to sign an act to regain her freedom, which has generated controversy in the country.
The need to enforce the necessary health measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 may, in some cases, lead to unusual or totally exaggerated action. It is what happened in a small town in Argentina’s Santiago del Estero province (north) when a 10-year-old girl was arrested by police for not wearing a mask.
The use of masks, also known as face masks or chinstraps, has been mandatory in Santiago del Estero since April when the provincial Ministry of Health promulgated a decree that entrusted the local Police with controlling the use of this preventive measure in “routes, streets and accesses to public buildings, public spaces, shops, public transport”.
Since then, the norm establishes that if a person is found without a mask, they are liable to a fine of between 2,000 to 10,000 Argentine pesos ($ 23 to $ 117, respectively).
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Around noon on Thursday, January 7, a 10-year-old girl named Érika agreed to accompany her cousin to the bank in Brea Pozo, the town where she lives with her family. When leaving, the girl forgot to take her mask with her.
According to the local media Vision Santiagueña, on the way the girl was detained by the local police chief, Commissioner Adrián Argañaraz, who according to the local press “harshly rebuked” the minor for her forgetfulness.
But the scolding was not enough for law enforcement. The girl ended up being driven to a police station by a policewoman. There, according to the local environment, she had to wait as an apprehended for 50 minutes, until her mother came looking for her.
Despite being a minor, the police forced the girl to sign a certificate before releasing her again.
Her mother wrote on social networks: “Ten years old my child is traumatized for life, signing her freedom,”.
“Not even the officers who were there could believe what the chief was doing. Nobody knew how to proceed, he wanted us to sign lies that he himself invented and with threats he wanted to arrest my husband,” added Evangelina Luque, the mother.
The case generated outrage and even a city councilor, Belén Pinto, affirmed that she will file, together with the victim’s family, a complaint against the police chief for abuse of power.