The Chilean government is back under the spotlight, like it was during the Pinochet regime, for alleged violations of human rights during social unrest and protests over metro fare hikes which erupted in October.
The security forces reportedly responded in a fundamentally repressive manner, which led to serious abuses and unlawful killings and torture, according to the findings of a UN released Friday.
The police has regularly failed to distinguish between people demonstrating peacefully and violent protesters, the UN report said, warning that excessive or unnecessary use of force had in some cases resulted in deaths and severe injuries
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet decided in October to send a team to investigate from October 30 through November 22. According to their report there are reasonable grounds to believe that ... a high number of serious human rights violations have been committed.
Moreover, [t]he management of assemblies by the police has been carried out in a fundamentally repressive manner, mission chief Imma Guerras-Delgado told reporters in Geneva.
The investigators documented 113 cases of torture and ill-treatment and 24 cases of sexual violence, committed by police and army forces.
Chile's public prosecutor's office is investigating 26 deaths in the context of the protests, and the UN team said it had verified information concerning four of the cases which included four cases of arbitrary deprivation of life and unlawful death involving state agents, Guerras-Delgado said.
Two of the victims were shot with live ammunition, despite posing no risk to the lives of police or military officers and not participating in acts of violence. This could amount to an extrajudicial execution, Guerras-Delgado explained.
Chile's justice ministry has also said more than 4,900 people were injured during the protests, including nearly 2,800 police officers.
The UN investigators meanwhile pointed to other sources reporting as many as 12,000 people wounded.
Their report especially decried the unnecessary and disproportionate use of less-lethal weapons such as anti-riot shotguns and tear gas canisters, which had left roughly 350 people with severe eye injuries. The investigators urged Chile to immediately end the indiscriminate use of anti-riot shotguns to control demonstrations, and to use tear gas only when strictly necessary.
The investigators also reported that more than 28,000 people had been detained between October 18 and December 6, many of them arbitrarily, but that the great majority had been released. Guerras-Delgado pointed to official Chilean figures showing that more than 1,600 remained in detention
Meanwhile, the Chilean Government of President Sebastián Piñera has ackowledged the UN report, but asked for its sources to be validated.
The Piñera administration Friday issued a 5-page document saying that [t]heir recommendations will contribute to the integral analysis to which we are engaged, in this important matter.