SANTIAGO — A team from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH) has been investigating human rights violations committed in Chile during the recent state of emergency and social crisis. The team’s initial conclusion is that there is “no doubt” that human rights violations were committed. What remains is to determine the scale, scope, and response.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH or, English acronym, IACHR) has been in Chile reviewing complaints of human rights violations committed since mid-October, when metro fare evasions gave way to more widespread protests and violence and the government responded with states of emergency, curfews, riot police, and military troops.
As reported by El Mostrador in an article the CIDH circulated yesterday, the organization’s Executive Secretary, Paulo Abrão, has been on location in Chile; and, although the agency has yet to release its final report and conclusions, there is already a clear trend: “there is no doubt,” said Abrão, “there are human rights violations … There are very clear complaints and testimonies in that sense.”
Abrão also said the CIDH is “collecting all this information at this time, and the country’s own public authorities have recognized abuses committed by the security forces.” He further explained, “At this time, the important thing is to verify if these abuses responded to a type of pattern, what was its scale and scope, and what should be done in that instance to try to repair all these situations.”
Abrão told Chile Today that the current investigative team in Chile includes four people and that the team will finish up its direct work in the country today (Nov. 21) but will continue to monitor the situation from its headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The CIDH’s mission in Chile is to analyze all the information related to the complaints and testimonies, contrast it with the Latin American human rights standards that apply to Chile, and then issue a statement of preliminary conclusions.
The last time the agency visited Chile was in 1974, during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. In this regard, the executive secretary said, in an interview with CNN Chile, that there was a “different context from the current one, a dictatorial context. We have no doubt that Chile is a democracy, that a separation of powers works, the justice system is trying to generate its responses to the situation.”
What is the CIDH?
The CIDH “is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS).” Its “mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere. It is composed of seven independent members who serve in a personal capacity.”
It was created by the OAS in 1959, and, together with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights installed in 1979, the commission is one of the institutions within the inter-American system for the protection of human rights.
All 35 independent countries of the Americas are members of the OAS; however, Cuba, which was excluded as a result of a 1962 resolution that ceased to have effect in 2009, has decided not to accept readmission, and Honduras was suspended from active participation in 2009.
Robert Travis grew up in San Francisco, California, and moved to Santiago, Chile, in July 2018. In addition to editing and writing for Chile Today, he practices law from afar with Travis & Travis. He’s thrilled to be living in the same hemisphere as “the world’s longest left,” Playa Chicama.