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UN report signals of human rights violations in Chile during October protests

Saturday, December 14th 2019 - 09:55 UTC
Full article 15 comments
Chile's police has behaved “in a fundamentally repressive manner,” UN mission chief Imma Guerras-Delgado told reporters. Chile's police has behaved “in a fundamentally repressive manner,” UN mission chief Imma Guerras-Delgado told reporters.

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.”

Categories: Politics, Chile.

Top Comments

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  • Islander1

    And what did these little trendy “do-gooders” have to say about those who threw firebombs in the faces of young female Chilean Policegirls - and thus scarred and mutilated their faces for ever?
    Or those who trashed and robbed innocent shops and stores?

    or those armed thugs who scared innocent tourists from Norway the other week and stole all their luggage at gun point and thus ruined their holidays with clothes and valuables all stolen?
    Oh - and those who trashed and burnt down the only hospital in one small town- and ransacked a Church? Some peaceloving Catholics!
    There is only one way of dealing with an attempt of mob rule.
    Of course the social inequality in Chile needs to change- but it will take some time- do it by a revolution and you loose it all, as all are reduced then in time down to the same bottom level.

    Dec 15th, 2019 - 03:34 am 0
  • Enrique Massot

    Islander1

    Just in case you don't know: states are held to higher standards than individuals -- especially when it comes to the use of violent means.

    That is why these “little trendy 'do-gooders,' as you call them, are calling out the Chilean state for its use of taxpayer-funded security forces to clamp down on widespread demonstrations.

    ”Of course the social inequality in Chile needs to change.“ Why, your extreme sensitivity impresses me! Oh, but there is a qualifier: ”it will take some time.”

    Say then, Islander: how many more deaths, how many more raped women, how many more eyes need to be lost before your magnanimously allowed changes finally happen?

    Dec 15th, 2019 - 08:52 am 0
  • DemonTree

    Some changes have already happened, no? Increased minimum wage, guaranteed pensions, freezes on utility costs. And Chile is getting a new constitution, albeit after an unnecessary delay. Sounds like police reform should be the next thing on the agenda.

    But looting shops, smashing churches and vandalising metro stations only hurts the community. And it's an invitation to the state to use violence in return, not that they seem to be making much of a distinction in Chile. So why are they doing it?

    Dec 15th, 2019 - 06:42 pm 0
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