SANTIAGO – Several human rights organizations and the famous ex-judge Baltasar Garzón have sent a request to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. They ask the court to investigate possible crimes against humanity committed by, among others, Chilean president Sebastián Piñera. The alleged crimes would have taken place during the social uprising that started on Oct. 18, 2019.
Former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, the Chilean Human Rights Commission (CHDH), the American Association of Jurists (AAJ), and the Italian Centro di Ricerca ed Elaborazione per la Democrazia (CRED) have joined forces to request intervention from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, digital publication CIPER reported on Thursday. The judge and the organizations argue that Chile’s Public Prosecutor is not capable of investigating human rights violations in the country, as over 3,000 cases related to the estallido have been closed so far, without investigation or trial.
In their request, filed on Thursday morning, they ask the ICC to investigate and initiate a trial against President Sebastián Piñera, ministers of Interior and Defense, and the leading generals of the Chilean police force. They claim the president is responsible for committing crimes against humanity, “committed in a widespread and systematic manner.” In a statement to CIPER, Garzoón explained, “The events that took place after the social outbreak are, we believe, crimes against humanity. In the complaint filed at the International Criminal Court we want to point at the impunity in Chile.”
In the filed document, the group also argues that the ICC should intervene as the crimes committed during the estallido are wrongly classified as common crimes. According to the group, this is done deliberately “to remove them from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court” and, as the group says, to be able to delay prosecutions and allow pardons and amnesties. The organizations involved also claim the Public Prosecutor in Chile is not impartial.
After the estallido erupted on the streets of Santiago and later in other cities of Chile, the Chilean government responded by sending the military and the heavily-militarized police force to the streets. By decreeing a State of Emergency, authorities arrested people without protocol. Dozens of people died in the first week of the uprising, while thousands of people were arrested. Notorious, too, were the eye injuries during the estallido: over 400 people were (partially) blinded by police pellets during protests. Several human rights organizations investigated the situation in Chile, among them the human rights office from the United Nations and Amnesty International, and all of them reported systematic human rights violations.
Judge Garzón is well-known in Chile for being the judge who issued an international warrant for the arrest of dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998. An extradition request was turned down by the United Kingdom and Pinochet, around that time residing in the UK and arrested on British soil, where he remained under house arrest until his return to Chile.