Three years after a social uprising sparked nationwide protests that authorities sometimes answered with human rights violations, two Chilean institutions have published reports on victims’ attempts to hold authorities accountable. According to both the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) and the Children’s Ombudsman, the majority still await justice. Several allege obstruction of justice by the same entities responsible for the violations.
Two Chilean human rights organizations published separate reports on the anniversary of the estallido. Their conclusions are the same: those responsible for human rights violations during the uprising have largely gone unpunished.
The National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) speaks of “the most serious and numerous human rights violations since the return to democracy,” and calls it worrying that after three years, “of the 3,151 complaints filed by the INDH, only 9.5 percent have been formalized,” and that “of the 3,626 victims associated with those complaints, 38 percent have not even had their statements taken.” INDH Director Consuelo Contreras called the efforts of the Chilean Public Prosecutor to go after those responsible for violations “insufficient.”
“The government should propose a policy of integral reparation that includes measures aimed at restoring the conditions or situation prior to the violation of rights,” Contreras said, asking for a commission and state policies that “would take into account variables such as, for example, the labor impairment caused by the state violence.”
According to the INDH, since the start of the estallido, 3,151 complaints were filed against 2,987 police officers (only 179 of them were formalized) and 130 soldiers (only seven formalized). Of these complaints, eight were for death by state forces, 551 for torture, and 660 for unnecessary violence. Only 13 of these cases led to convictions and in only 55 percent of the cases the statements of victims were taken.
Violence against minors
Another publication was released on the anniversary of the estallido by the office of Chile’s Children’s Ombudsman. According to the office, 2,178 children and minors suffered human rights violations during the estallido. Most of these cases corresponded to “unlawful coercion,” which could mean unlawful detention. According to the same office, in only two of the over 2,000 cases a state agent was convicted, and only 1 percent of all the cases ended in court, while the majority were “provisionally archived.”
“Considering the seriousness of the crimes of violence committed by agents of the State, these figures are very worrying,” the office’s leader Patricia Muñoz said. Just like the INDH, she advocated for more resources and a separate commission to investigate cases related to the estallido.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.