First it was Amnesty International, then Human Right Watch, now the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Each of the international organizations that have issued a report on what has happened in our country in recent times is categorical: in Chile, Human Rights have been violated.
All the information collected by national human rights defenders shows that there have been people dead, injured, mutilated, wounded, tortured, sexually abused, detained, imprisoned, as well as indiscriminate use of tear gas in popular neighborhoods, use of excessive force, and other measures of social control.
The social uprising that has been going on for more than fifty days – which is based on a deep discontent with a political and economic system that generates enormous inequalities and that enables the spreading of abuses of all kinds – requires political and economic solutions able to effectively transform this system.
Despite the time that has elapsed, the massiveness of the demonstrations, the considerable decline in support shown in public opinion polls and the outrage expressed throughout the country in light of human rights violations, the authorities have chosen the wrong path. They prefer to argue that the uprising is a matter of public order, of need for control over the protest, of required greater penalties and more police force and possibly military intervention in the streets. A deep mistake that only guarantees atrocities.
The latest proposals by the Executive address the uprising in the same way that inequalities and abuses have been addressed in the past, as if these injustices could be resolved simply by incrased repression and not by building a just and rights’ based society.
The last law approved by parliament is a true legal aberration. It’s approval is of high gravity. It is evidence of the deterioration of our democratic conviviality, as it has been promoted and approved by those who have the responsibility to protect it. Technically, from the criminal point of view, it is appaling, from the point of view of human rights it curtails public liberties and the right to strike. Politically, it is a dishonest law, as under the pretext of penalizing “looting”, the right to legitimate protest is penalized. It is also an extremely poorly worded law, which does not balnce the proportionality of the penalty as it establishes more serious penalties for smaller crimes.
Chilean society is clearly aware of the seriousness of the human rights violations that have taken place since the beginning of the social uprising. The peoples that inhabit our territory have suffered it in the flesh. That awareness of what has taken place leads to the conviction that the path of increased repression does not lead to the resolution of the ongoing serious crisis. The cessation of repression, a true constituent assembly and the promotion of transformative economic measures that guarantee rights for all, are at the heart of the way forward.
CODEPU, December 7, 2019
Translation by Collectif Place de la dignité, Montreal