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Chile: Recourse for victims of domestic violence in general and for those whose spouses are members of the Armed Forces (April 2001)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 30 April 2001
Citation / Document Symbol CHL36926.E
Reference 5
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Chile: Recourse for victims of domestic violence in general and for those whose spouses are members of the Armed Forces (April 2001), 30 April 2001, CHL36926.E, available at: [accessed 29 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis 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.

The following information is in addition to that already provided in CHL32589.E of 30 August 1999 on prosecution of military officials in cases of domestic violence.

No information could be found on the specific issue of recourse available to victims of domestic violence whose spouses are members of the Armed Forces, a report on the case of a female Carabineros police officer who initiated a police process against her husband, also a Carabineros officer, for domestic violence was documented in a 15 November 2000 Santiago Times report.

The Santiago Times report states that Marcela Valdes, a former Carabineros lieutenant, filed a complaint against her abusive spouse, Claudio Vasquez Cardinalli, a Carabineros captain, before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in Costa Rica after exhausting her options for prosecution in Chile (15 Nov. 2000). Valdes first sought to launch a police process against Vasquez in May 1999 (ibid.). The internal review of the case concluded in January 2000 that Valdes' "liberal behavior had provoked conflicts with her husband" and therefore she and a male friend would be sentenced to 10 days in prison, while Vasquez would be sentenced to 4 days (ibid.). Valdes sought to have the ruling reviewed and overturned by the Ninth Zone Valdivia Carabineros, but this authority ratified the decision of the lower tribunal (ibid.). Valdes then took her case before the Carabineros Order and Security Directorate for appeal but the Directorate increased her sentence to 15 days in prison (ibid.). She appealed the decision once again but this time before the Valdivia Court of Appeals; while the appeal was being heard, Valdes was fired by the Carabineros for violating "ethical and moral standards" and the appeal court determined that in light of "her actions as contrary to Carabineros behavioral standards," her sentenced would be increased to 18 days (ibid.). The Chilean Supreme Court upheld the decision of the appeal court as it rules only on procedural matters (ibid.). She then approached the Institute for Women, a Chilean NGO, which helped her lodge her case with the Inter-Amercian Human Rights Commission in October 2000 (ibid.). No corroborating information, including the outcome of this case, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

The following information is provided on the Website of the Chilean National Women Service (Servicio Nacional de la Mujer, SERNAM) (2001).

All persons directly affected by domestic violence can lodge a complaint (denuncia) with the Carabineros and the Investigations Police (Policía de Investigaciones) (2001a). These persons include the victims of domestic violence, their relatives and/or other parties who have direct knowledge of cases (e.g., neighbours, friends, employers, etc.) (ibid.). The Carabineros or the Investigations Police must transfer domestic violence complaints to civil courts (Juzgado Civil) (2001b). Persons denouncing cases of domestic violence can also lodge complaints directly with civil courts (ibid.). Cases of domestic violence involving serious injuries, attempted murder, rape, threats or "dishonest abuses" (abusos deshonestos) will be transferred to a criminal court in the locality where the alleged violence took place (ibid.).

The complaint (denuncia) can be done orally or in writing, and consists of informing judicial officials of the details of the domestic violence case (ibid.). The claim (demanda) must be done in writing by the victim and/or his/her legal representative before a civil court (ibid.). Making a claim implies that the circumstances for the violence are presented in writing (ibid.). The person making the claim becomes a party to the trial (la persona que hace la demanda pasa a ser una de las partes del juicio) (ibid.).

There are several precautionary measures (medidas precautorias) that are available for the protection of victims of domestic violence (2001c). Victims have recourse to these precautionary measures when they make a complaint or a claim, or at any time during the trial (ibid.). The most opportune time to ask for precautionary measures is at the time the subpoena is served (comparendo) (ibid.). A judge may grant precautionary measures to the victim even though he/she has not requested them (ibid.). Examples of precautionary measures include: the prohibition or the restriction of the alleged aggressor in the household; the ordering of the return to the household of anyone who has been ordered to leave it without justification; the authorization for the victim to leave the household and to arrange that the victim is able to have access to her/his personal belongings; the prohibition of the alleged aggressor entering the victim's workplace; the determination of a provisional system of personal care and visits; and a prohibition on concluding contracts related to family property (ibid.). These precautionary measures are examples outlined in law; a victim may ask for any other precautionary measure (ibid.).

The duration of these precautionary measures is temporary and may be ordered for a period of 60 working days. In serious cases, the duration may be extended for a period of up to 180 days (ibid.). Extensions of precautionary measures are requested before a court (ibid.). When a judge orders precautionary measures, the court must delivery an official letter (oficio) to the victim stating that the Carabineros will cooperate in the execution of the precautionary measures (ibid.). If the aggressor fails to respect the protection measures, he/she may face fines, arrest and/or imprisonment for a period of anywhere between 541 days and five years.

The UN Chronicle cited the Chilean Minister for Women's Affairs, Adriana Delpiano, as saying that her country was in the process of establishing family tribunals to deal with the issue of violence against women (22 June 2000). No additional information on these family tribunals could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

To commemorate the second anniversary of the death of Alejandra Araneda Bobadilla, a university student in Concepción who, after making a complaint to police in May 1999 that her neighbour was the victim of domestic abuse, was then killed by the victim's husband, women's groups and students protested before the city's courthouse to urge reforms to the 1994 Domestic Violence Law (Boletín July-Sept. 2000, 22). The protesters wanted to urge the government to modify the part of the law that restricts Carabineros from "mak[ing] an arrest in a domestic violence situation [only] when they directly observe a person committing a violent act" (ibid.). The protesters also criticized the government for failing to keep its promise that it would modify the Law on Domestic Violence to protect victims and witnesses who report it (ibid.). The Chilean Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Women's House of Valparaiso proposed changes to the Law and presented them to the Chilean Congress (ibid. Oct.-Dec. 2000 23).

In January 2001, Delpiano reported that the ability of the Chilean state to handle the volume of domestic violence cases was "woefully inadequate" and that the social services in place were only adequate to address the needs of about 5 per cent of domestic violence victims (Santiago Times 21 Jan. 2001). The Chilean National Women's Service (SERNAM) hopes to establish by the end of 2001, care centres that would offer services to victims in all of Chile's regional capitals with more centres in the provinces to follow (ibid.). The centres would be managed by municipal governments and private companies (ibid.). Delpiano reported that the creation of the national network of care centres would begin in March 2001 (Boletín Oct.-Dec. 2000, 23). No reports as to whether the network has begun could be found among the sources consulted.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Boletín Red contra la Violencia [Santiago]. October-December 2000. No. 29. "Chile." Santiago: Isis International.

_____. July-September 2000. No. 28. "Chile: Loopholes in the Law." Santiago: Isis International.

Santiago Times. 21 January 2001. "Reporting of Domestic Violence on the Rise." (NEXIS)

_____. 15 November 2000. "Fired Carabinero Brings International Suit Against Chile." (NEXIS)

Servicio Nacional de la Mujer (SERNAM). 2001a. "Infomujer/Violencia Intrafamiliar/Qué hacer ante un caso de violencia intrafamiliar?" [Accessed 24 Apr. 2001]

_____. 2001b. "Infomujer/Violencia Intrafamiliar/Qué hacer ante un caso de violencia intrafamiliar?" [Accessed 24 Apr. 2001]

_____. 2001c. "Infomujer/Violencia Intrafamiliar/Medidas de protección." [Accessed 24 Apr. 2001]

UN Chronicle [New York]. 22 June 2000. Sven T. Siefken. "Towards Gender Equality Beijing +5; 'Women 2000: Gender Equality, Development and Peace for teh Twenty-First Century' Conference." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2000 . 2001

IRB Databases


World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites including:

Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo


Fempress [Santiago]. 2000

Organization of American States



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Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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