POLITICS

Antiterrorist Law: Government Seeks to Extend Investigative Options

SANTIAGO – The Piñera administration will send a law proposal to Congress this week, seeking to broaden the possibilities the government has under the Antiterrorist Law. Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick defended the proposed changes in La Tercera newspaper, saying the provisions are “necessary in the fight against drugs and money laundering.” The Antiterrorist Law is often criticized for its use in the Mapuche conflict.

According to La Tercera newspaper, President Sebastián Piñera worked together with Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick on a reform of the Antiterrorist Law. The idea is to give police forces more instruments when investigating cases that are qualified as terrorist crimes. To get the proposed modification through Congress, the administration will split the law, separating the investigative and prosecution parts.

Chadwick defended the proposal as “necessary in the fight against drug trafficking and money laundering.” The modifications will give the state more possibilities when it comes to the use of undercover agents and the interception of communications.

Operación Huracán and the Mapuche Conflict

The illegal interception of communications – through hacking and wiretaps – is the main theme of one of the biggest scandals, known as Operación Huracán, the Chilean Carabineros are currently involved in. According to judges, Carabineros had illegally tapped phones of Mapuche activists and even altered evidence to have them arrested and convicted.

Operación Huracán and other implementations of the Antiterrorist Law in the Mapuche conflict are reasons to expect heavy resistance from some lawmakers. The Antiterrorist Law, which originates from the Pinochet dictatorship, has been modified before.

What’s in the new Anti-Terrorism Law in Chile?

A Law Without Definition

During the last modifications, Amnesty International stressed that the law criminalizes the Mapuche. The NGO Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) explained that Chile’s government must not keep laws that violate human rights and criminalize protests and social mobilizations.

As no legal definition of “terrorism” appears in the law, the government can qualify any crime as “terrorism,” which gives prosecutors options such as preventive detention and longer prison sentences. Chilean opposition and human rights activists fear even more abuses than before.

The current modification comes, according to La Tercera, amid pressures from political sectors, especially from right-wing UDI party, which stressed that the changes needed to be implemented urgently. Earlier, the party proposed a reform of the Human Rights Institute in Chile.

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