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There were human rights violations in Chile, says UN

A report by the UN Human Rights Office reveals that police officers committed “torture, ill-treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence” during the current social crisis

Protests in Chile.

Protests in Chile. / Photo: AP

LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza

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Leer en español: En Chile sí hubo violaciones de derechos humanos, ONU

Chile has been immersed in a social crisis that broke out on October 18, when the rise in the Santiago metro passage was announced. From that day on, citizens have taken to the streets demanding improvements on several fronts such as health and pension. The situation has led to declare the state of emergency and the government to rethink its actions. A referendum will be held in 2020 for Chileans to vote if they want a constituent to modify the current Magna Carta.

Although the government has heard the cries of the citizens, the public force has been the main character because of the treatment it has given to the protesters. There have been several citizens and NGOs, such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who have denounced the excessive use of force and the violation of human rights by the police, called Carabineros, and the armed forces.

Now it is the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, that confirms the allegations. The report, published on Friday, December 13, has 30 pages where it explains that during the demonstrations that have taken place in Chile, “police from Chile and the Armed Forces breached international norms and standards on assembly control and use of force".

The document, which was sent to Sebastián Piñera, says that "violations (of human rights) include excessive or unnecessary use of force that resulted in arbitrary deprivation of life and in injuries, torture and ill-treatment, violence sexual and arbitrary detentions ... These violations were committed throughout the country, but the vast majority occurred in the Metropolitan Region and in urban contexts."

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The team who made the report documented:

  • 26 deaths occurred during the demonstrations, of which 11 were verified by the team.
  • 113 specific cases of torture and ill-treatment.
  • 350 people suffered eye injuries from the use of pellets.
  • Regarding sexual violence, the document reports 24 cases against women, men and adolescent boys and girls, perpetrated by members of police and military.
  • From October 18 to December 10 there were 4903 people injured including 2792 police.

The UN "notes that the National Institute of Human Rights has filed complaints related to hundreds of such cases." In addition, the "unnecessary and disproportionate use of less lethal weapons, particularly riot guns, during peaceful demonstrations and/or outside the context of violent clashes between protesters and security forces is highlighted. This has resulted in a high number of people injured, including bystanders and people who were not committing violent acts, but were protesting peacefully."

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How was the report made?

“The team conducted 235 interviews with victims of alleged human rights violations - including injured and detained protesters and their families - and conducted 60 interviews with officers from Carabineros de Chile, including some injured during the protests. The team was granted free access to hospitals and health centers, and was allowed to interview injured people during the demonstrations. He also received quick and unrestricted access to places of detention, including police stations and prisons, as well as to persons deprived of liberty whom the team wanted to interview privately, and to relevant reports and records.”

What is recommended to the Chilean State?

  • "Immediate cessation of indiscriminate use of rifle shotguns to control demonstrations."
  • "Limit the use of tear gas to situations where it is strictly necessary, and never within educational and health facilities."
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  • "Ensure that security forces guarantee accountability in relation to human rights violations and recognize these violations."
  • Establish “a monitoring mechanism, which involves our Regional Office for South America, based in Santiago, as well as the active participation of civil society, to evaluate within three months the implementation of the recommendations made in this report, as well as the recommendations of international human rights mechanisms. "
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