March 21, 2020
The state of exception for Health Disasters that has been declared in the country has as an objective to address the health challenges brought about by the spread of the coronavirus. It is important to note, however, that these health risks affect the entire population including those imprisoned as a result of the social protest.
There is an enormous number of detainees, who have been imprisoned with preventive precautionary measures. The main purpose of these measures is to punish those who have questioned the unjust social order and exercised the right to social protest. The excessive prolongation of these pre-trial detentions, however, is an arbitrary and dehumanizing act that becomes even more serious under the current circumstances.
Today it is unnecessary to keep prisoners of the social protest in jail. They are being held in overcrowded quarters, without sufficient medical care, in appalling hygienic conditions, and with poor shelter and food. This situation is in contrast to that of the few processed perpetrators of crimes against humanity, who are living in excellent facilities that do comply with international standards.
Prolonging pre-trial detention in the context of a health crisis poses a greater risk. The State has an obligation to protect their lives. Even more so when preventative detention measures are used with the argument of prolonging investigations, transforming them into a de facto sentence with the aim of punishing.
CODEPU endorses the demands that propose to modify the measures of preventive detention for other measures that are less restrictive of personal freedoms. This would constitute a fair, necessary and unpostponable measure that does not affect the course of the investigations carried out by the courts themselves.
The serious situation experienced in the Pre-Trial Detention Centre in Santiago a few days ago shows us the urgent need to adopt measures to guarantee the lives of so many young people, political prisoners, detained during the social protests that began on 18 October.