SANTIAGO – The National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) is investigating allegations of torture and human rights violations inside Baquedano Metro station. Reports about the case went viral and generated numerous spinoffs. What’s going on?
According to a complaint received by the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH), citizens were tortured in the Baquedano Metro station in the center of Santiago during the protests.
The INDH received the testimony the night of October 23 and went to the place to investigate, accompanied by the Investigation Police (PDI) and Judge Daniel Urrutia. The story sparked unrest after wild details were circulated. But what is true?
A student, initials N. L., came forward and made the complaint. His story spread via social media, prompting the INDH to act. L. told the institute that he was detained by police the night of October 22. On their way to the police office in Baquedano station, he said, he saw people being tortured, hanging from the ceiling, and yelling for help.
According to the victim’s brother, B. L. S. in news portal El Desconcierto, N. L. was rescued by a Red Cross team and brought to a medical center, where he showed signs of post-traumatic stress and dislocations.
L. was put under legal protection measures (or “recurso de amparo,” which protects his individual freedom in specific detention, arrest, or imprisonment cases), while the INDH investigated his testimony further.
The Investigation Continues
INDH director Sergio Micco went to the metro station along with Judge Urrutia and a PDI team to gather information. According to newsportal El Mostrador, they found different unspecified signs, so the human rights institute now considers taking legal action against the agents who might have committed crimes.
In a Publimetro note, Micco said, “the PDI has not determined if torture was performed in Baquedano Metro station. It is [up to] the Public Prosecutor to find out if there was a crime or not. INDH evaluates legal actions further.”
In La Tercera newspaper, however, Judges Daniel Urrutia and Darwin Bratti denied such findings and evidence of the alleged crimes.
It is unclear how the case will evolve and if the investigations the INDH director announced will bring more information to light.
Manuel Monsalve, a Socialist Party parliamentarian, told Publimetro that he will ask former president and current UN Human Rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet to send an observer team, due to the INDH’s inability to deal with the current volume of complaints.
The apparent case, although still under investigation, has already sparked repudiation among political figures. Representative Camila Rojas supports N. L.’s story. On Twitter she said that blood and other signs were found in the station. “Judges from the 7th Court found torture took place [there]. This cannot go unpunished, we won’t allow it,” she wrote.
Monsalve, meanwhile, points to Interior Minister Andrés Chadwick. El Mostrador quoted Monsalve as saying that “this is extremely serious, illegal detentions and torture occur in dictatorship, not in democracy. The president and Interior Minister need to take responsibility…and guarantee the state of emergency does not [lead to] human rights violations.”
Camila Huecho is a journalism student at Universidad de La Frontera in Temuco, currently interning at Chile Today. As a freelance illustrator and Fellow at the Melton Foundation, she works to bring information and cultures together through communications and art.