SANTIAGO – Amnesty International has called for an investigation into human rights violations by Chile’s national police force during the social uprising. The high command, especially, should be investigated, the organization argues. In its report, presented today, Amnesty lists hundreds of alleged human rights violations committed in just one-and-half months of observation.
With protests in Santiago and other cities across the country growing by the week, the violent responses by Chile’s national police force, Carabineros de Chile, are as if the widely condemned human rights violations from last year never happened.
Meanwhile, calls for the resignation of Carabineros top general Mario Rozas and even more drastic measures, such as starting an entirely new police institution from the ground up, are louder than ever. Amnesty International echoes those calls in a report released today.
According to the human rights organization, the violations last year were systematic and those leading the Carabineros were aware of what was happening, yet refused to stop the abuses. Today, they present their report based on one-and-a-half months of investigations into acts of violence committed by police during the social protests last year. At the presentation, Fabiola Campillai, blinded by a teargas cannister shot, will be present.
According to Amnesty’s investigation, “there is reason to believe that the Director General, the Deputy Director General and the Director of Public Order and Security of the national police, at the very least, would have known of the human rights violations through public and official information.”
“Those in strategic command of the national police allowed acts of torture and ill-treatment to be committed against demonstrators because they considered them to be a necessary evil in order to disperse the crowds at all costs. Through tacit orders or deliberate omissions, they encouraged cases as serious as that of Gustavo Gatica or Fabiola Campillai, among many others,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International in a press release.
One of the main criticisms is that police abuses go unpunished. Although hundreds of alleged human rights violations were documented by organizations in and out of Chile, only a handful of police have been discharged thus far. Amnesty writes that this culture of lawlessness “allowed officials involved in human rights violations to remain in their posts, operating on a daily basis, and only encouraged a repetition of violations given the prevailing impunity within the institution.”