ON THE STATUS OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHILE
of “on the spot” Observations in
SUBSEQUENT TO OUR MISSION
Some of the recommendations in the preceding chapter of this report may
no longer be current or may now be unnecessary.
It is true that, as soon as the Government of Chile received our note of
July 29, which it replied to on August 2, there was news in the press during the
months of August and September that some steps had been taken to correct certain
excesses and to restore the general situation to normal in some degree.
Thus, it was announced that some members of the police had been
discharged and even indicted because it had been found that they had
participated in acts of torture against detained persons, thus confirming the
truth of the denunciations regarding one of the types of attack against human
rights, which were most frequently submitted to the Commission. It was also
announced that some minors had been released or transferred to special
re-education establishments. It was said that one of the former prisoners on
Dawson Island, Mr. Orlando Letelier, had been released, although apparently
under a decree of expulsion from the country. It was reported that in some
cases, prisoners against whom no charges had been brought have been permitted to
choose exile. The news was widely reported that the Government was prepared to
permit exit from the country of a large number of prisoners, although some
sources of information tied in the scope of that decision to similar measures
that might be adopted by the Soviet Union or by Cuba. According to information
received from the Government of Chile, the state of internal war was abolished
by Decree-Law 641 of September 11, 1974, and it was replaced in the interior
with the state of siege, which entered into force on September 11, 1973, and was
subsequently extended. The cessation of the state of war apparently did not
involve cessation of the activities or the proceedings of the War Councils.
Similarly, other negative news has been reported, such as a declaration
attributed to the President of the Junta to the effect that it would not be
possible to re-establish suffrage until a new generation, educated in the
principles that the Junta considers more elevated and desirable for the country,
has replaced the present young generation. If this news is correct, it would
reveal the intent to disregard for many years the political rights of the
Chilean people and hence, the provision of Article XX of the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
Since the Commission does not have official and unequivocal information
on all of these events, it cannot reasonably rely on the reports. It records
them here with all appropriate reservations, despite the fact that it was not
able to take them into consideration in drawing up its conclusions and
recommendations, so that there may be no doubt that the Commission wishes to
maintain the hope that the new acts of the Chilean Government will mean a full
restoration of the rights that have been violated.
The following note dated October 22, 1974 has been received from the
Government of Chile:
Republic of Chile RE. (DIROREA)
ORD. Nº 18118
of Foreign Affairs PURPOSE. Submit report
Bureau of International Agencies REF.
Note of July 29, 1974, of the
Inter-American Commission on
Santiago, October 22, 1974
From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
To Mr. Justino Jiménez de Aréchaga, Chairman of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights
By note of July 29, 1974, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
suggested that the Government of Chile take a number of measures to—as it
stated—contribute to the protection of basic rights and freedoms.
On August 2, I answered that note reporting that I was not replying to
points 1, 7, 8, and 10, which referred to measures that might be adopted by
other Ministries, and added that on that date I was sending a copy of your note
to the appropriate Ministries.
Having received a reply from those Ministries, I will now respond to
Point 1. The information referred to is provided immediately to those
requesting it. In exceptional cases, for reasons of security or because of the
need to obtain information that might be needed for the success of an
investigation, it is desirable to maintain some information secret for a brief
time, which is done at the exclusive decision of the investigating authority
under the legal powers it has by virtue of its office. Withholding information
might also be necessary for the security of the detained person, which, as in
the preceding case, is also by decision of the same authority.
In cases of detentions resulting from indictments filed before competent
courts, the procedural rules in force are fully complied with and in the case of
detentions by virtue of the constitutional authority deriving from the state of
siege, this Ministry proceeds to issue the appropriate decree immediately.
The above procedures are also applied in the case of transfer of persons,
at which time any information requested is immediately provided.
Point 7. Persons wishing to leave the territory of the country have been
given every opportunity to do so by the Government—of course this does not
apply with respect to persons whose activities must be investigated in order to
determine whether there is any criminal responsibility under the law.
Point 8. The Government feels that there is no reason or necessity of any
kind to amend existing legislation regarding the remedy of amparo, since
this falls under provisions in effect prior to September 11, 1973, and such
remedies are decided upon by the Judiciary, a completely independent branch of
the authorities that has never questioned the behavior of the authorities.
Point 10. The means for providing the information referred to in this
point have been the special concern of the Ministry of the Interior. Such means
are in existence, and their operation is fully satisfactory. If in some cases
information cannot be provided it is because the persons involved are not in
detention and their whereabouts are unknown.
Moreover, I must inform the Commission regarding several events that
occurred last September, which have fundamentally changed the situation existing
prior to that time.
First of al, Decree-Law 641 dated September 11, 1974, abolished the
internal state of war, and leaving in the interior of the country the state of
siege that was in effect from September 11, 1973 and which was subsequently
Moreover, with regard to those detained under the law of a state of siege
and some persons sentenced for crimes described in Law 12927 on internal
security of the State and Law 17928 on control of weapons, the Government of
Chile, through the Supreme Chief of the Nation, expressed its willingness to
allow them to leave the national territory, and invited the Governments of the
USSR and of Cuba to do the same with respect to the political prisoners who have
remained in detention for a long time for the sole crime of not being in
agreement with the dictatorial regimes governing them.
Having fully solved the problem of refugees and persons in asylum, the
Government of Chile is continuing to work on safeguarding the freedom of all of
the inhabitants of the country and faithfully respects basic rights, even going
beyond its commitments under existing conventions or pacts, as can be seen from
the information set forth in the preceding paragraph.
I take this opportunity to repeat, Mr. Chairman, the expressions of my
Patricio Carvajal Prado
Minister of Foreign Affairs
The Commission has already had occasion, in this report, to analyze and
establish its position on the matters referred to in this note.