Amnesty International Report 2002 - Chile
|Publication Date||28 May 2002|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2002 - Chile , 28 May 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3cf4bc05c.html [accessed 8 December 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Republic of Chile
Head of state and government: Ricardo Lagos
Population: 15.4 million
Official language: Spanish
Death penalty: abolitionist for ordinary crimes
2001 treaty ratifications/signatures: Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty; Optional Protocol to the UN Children's Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict; Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty
Police were accused of using excessive force to break up peaceful demonstrations; scores of protesters were arrested and reportedly ill-treated. Long-standing land disputes led to increasing tension between indigenous groups and the police. Judicial efforts, both in Chile and abroad, continued to clarify past human rights violations.
New legislation and penal reforms were introduced during the year. These included the abolition of the death penalty for ordinary crimes, which became law in May, and the gradual implementation of the new Code of Penal Procedure in the II, III and VII regions. The Code was expected to be implemented in the Santiago Metropolitan area in 2004.
Judicial and government initiatives to deal with the issue of "disappearances" during the years of military rule continued. These included the appointment of special judges to investigate some 150 cases and the submission of information by the armed forces to President Ricardo Lagos, containing the names of 180 people arrested between 1973 and 1976 and 20 unidentified victims. The information stated that most of the victims had been thrown into the sea, rivers and lakes in Chile. The information was handed over to the President of the Supreme Court for the Chilean courts to initiate investigations. Human rights organizations were highly critical of the information provided which was considered inadequate and, in a number of cases, contradicted well-documented evidence.
Ill-treatment and excessive use of force
Carabineros (uniformed police) reportedly used excessive force in a number of incidents including when dispersing peaceful demonstrations. Scores of protesters were reportedly subjected to ill-treatment during arrest and while detained in police stations in Santiago.
- Andrea Martina Olivares Díaz was arrested in March with some 30 others during a peaceful demonstration. She was dragged into a police vehicle where she was insulted, fondled repeatedly and pinched. She was kept in detention for several hours at the 3rd Police Station where she was not allowed to eat, drink or use the lavatory. She was not informed of the reasons for her arrest and was forced to sign some documents before being released.
- In April, Marta Alban Ochoa was arrested by Carabineros while participating in a demonstration against human rights violations in Peru. She and several other people were allegedly dragged into a van, beaten and insulted. She was held at the 19th Police Station in Providencia where she was eventually allowed to see the doctor about her injuries. She was subsequently released.
Long-standing land conflicts in southern regions generated increasing tension between police and members of indigenous groups. Police reportedly used excessive force during demonstrations and police operations.
- In January, during a peaceful land rights demonstration in the VIII region, Carabineros and plainclothes police reportedly fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters and beat many others. Abraham Santi, a Mapuche member of the Pascual Coña indigenous community, was shot in the right eye. It was unclear whether an investigation had been opened into this incident.
- In May, members of the Policía de Investigaciones, Investigation Police, fired on people queueing at a social security office in Tirua, VIII Region; most were Mapuche indigenous people. Officers were apparently trying to make an arrest. Four people were injured. An investigation was reportedly initiated into the shootings.
- In October, members of the Lafkenche indigenous community in the VIII region, tried to perform a religious ceremony in an area belonging to a timber company which has been officially claimed by the community. After being stopped from entering the area by Carabineros, they tried to return home but were surrounded by members of the security forces, including Carabineros, who held them there for several hours. The officers fired into the air and harassed community members. The community lodged a complaint to the regional authority.
In November, Gladys Marín, Secretary General of the Communist Party, and scores of Communist Party members were beaten by Carabineros during an eviction at the party headquarters in Santiago. Those arrested were subsequently released without charge and an investigation was reportedly initiated into the incident.
Developments concerning past human rights violations
There were developments both inside Chile and abroad in relation to judicial investigations into past human rights violations.
In January, former President Augusto Pinochet was placed under house arrest in Chile, accused of being the perpetrator of "kidnapping and/or aggravated homicide" committed in 1973 against 75 victims of a military operation known as the "Caravan of Death". In March, the Santiago Appeals Court rejected an appeal to dismiss the indictment but decided to end the house arrest, reducing the charges against him from that of "perpetrator" to one of "covering up" these crimes. In July, the Sixth Chamber of the Santiago Appeals Court "suspended temporarily", on health grounds, all legal proceedings affecting Augusto Pinochet. In August, the Supreme Court decided to consider the legal action filed by the prosecution lawyers against the temporary suspension of the case, on the grounds that judges had reached their decision by invoking articles of the new Code of Penal Procedure which was not in force in the Santiago Metropolitan area. The case was still pending before the Chilean courts at the end of the year.
Argentina: 'Operation Condor'
Criminal investigations were opened in Argentina into the secret conspiracy by military governments of the Southern Cone countries – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay – known as "Operation Condor", to forcibly return exiles to the countries from which they had escaped to face torture, "disappearance" and, often, murder.
In June and July, an Argentine federal judge issued two judicial decisions indicting a number of former officials in connection with a plan "dedicated to illicit acts" involving the systematic "enforced disappearance of people". A number of former Uruguayan military officers were indicted and Argentine, Paraguayan and Chilean former military officers, including former Chilean President Augusto Pinochet, former head of Chilean intelligence Manuel Contreras and former Colonel Pedro Espinoza, were named. In his July decision, the judge requested the preventive detention, pending a request for extradition, of Augusto Pinochet.
The Prats investigation
In May, an Argentine judge requested that Chile extradite former President Augusto Pinochet for the murder of Chilean General Carlos Prats and his wife, who were killed in Buenos Aires in 1974. In August, the Chilean Supreme Court rejected the request for extradition and for permission for the judge to interrogate Augusto Pinochet concerning the killings. In October, five members of the former Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA), National Intelligence Directorate, were arrested in Chile in connection with the killings. The case of Carlos Prats and his wife was also included in the Argentine investigation regarding Operation Condor.
AI country reports/visits
- Chile: Legal brief on the incompatibility of Chilean decree law No. 2191 of 1978 with international law (AI Index: AMR 22/002/2001)
- Chile: Testament to suffering and courage – the long quest for justice and truth (AI Index: AMR 22/014/2001)