SANTIAGO — As Chile experiences a social crisis, with the military in the streets and curfews, thousands have been arrested and hundreds injured. Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick denies any responsibility for the human rights violations that state agents allegedly committed against civilians in the last days. UN commissioner Michelle Bachelet vowed to send investigators to look into the complaints.
In response to repeated calls for his resignation over alleged human rights violations by armed forces, Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick said at a press conference, “I assume my responsibilities, but I have no political responsibility in this situation.”
He also reiterated the government’s support for the police and the military.
Chadwick Denies Responsibility
On October 23, a group of parliamentary advisers protested against Chadwick in Congress. They held up signs reading “You have blood on your hands,” connecting the minister to the deaths that occurred in the last days.
Technically, General Javier Iturriaga, not Chadwick, is in charge of national security right now, since large parts of Chile are in a state of emergency.
As of October 24, the government reported no new deaths, so the current official death toll still stands at 18. It also reported fewer arrests. During the night of October 23, 327 were detained disobeying the curfew, compared to 592 the previous night.
According to the most recent information from the National Human Rights Institute (INDH), 2,686 were arrested from October 17 until 14:00h on October 24 while 584 were injured. Of the total arrests, 297 were children and adolescents.
[🔴 ÚLTIMA ACTUALIZACIÓN] Cifras directamente recopiladas por el INDH en comisarías, hospitales y manifestaciones, desde el 17 de octubre hasta las 14:00 de hoy pic.twitter.com/NOsuqdScc5
— INDH Chile (@inddhh) October 24, 2019
The institute also reported that civilians filed eight complaints relating to sexual violence perpetrated by police. Six of the complaints accuse illegal behavior on the part of state agents such as forcing detainees to strip naked and squat.
Two other complaints accuse threats of rape by police and military officers. So far, 55 legal actions against the police and the military have been filed, relating to sexual violence, injury due to firearms and murder. Legal actions can easily be filed online in Chile.
Via its social media channels, the INDH has encouraged witnesses and victims of human rights violations committed by state agents to come forward.
A UN Human Rights Investigation
The Public Prosecutor said it will appoint Paulina Díaz Obilinovic as special public prosecutor to oversee exclusively allegations against the police. Specifically, Díaz will investigate complaints coming from the Santiago metropolitan region districts of Puente Alto, Pirque, San Joaquín, Lo Espejo, La Cisterna and La Granja.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, said she will send investigators to analyze all the complaints. Foreign minister Teodoro Ribera said President Piñera phoned Bachelet and fully supports the measure.