Bachelet urges “immediate dialogue” to resolve crisis in Chile

GENEVA October 21, 2019 – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Monday urged all political and civil society actors in Chile to engage in immediate dialogue and to avoid further polarizing the situation with words or deeds, following the violence and unrest that have gripped the country over the past few days.

At least eight people have died so far, with some reports suggesting the number may be as high as 13. In addition, according to the National Human Rights Institution, a further 44 people have been injured, nine of them seriously, and 283 people have been detained in the context of the protests. However, according to the Ministry of Interior, the number detained is 1,906.

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“I’m deeply disturbed and saddened to see the violence, destruction, deaths and injuries that have occurred in Chile over the past five days,” Bachelet said. “It is essential that all actions, by the authorities and by protestors, that have led to injury or death, are subjected to independent, impartial and transparent investigations.”

The High Commissioner warned that “the use of inflammatory rhetoric will only serve to further aggravate the situation, and risks generating widespread fear.”

“The authorities must act in strict accordance with international human rights standards, and any application of the state of emergency must be exceptional and rooted in law,” Bachelet said. “There are disturbing allegations of excessive use of force by security and armed forces, and I am also alarmed by reports that some detainees have been denied access to lawyers, which is their right, and that others have been mistreated while in detention.”

“In addition, dozens of members of the security forces themselves are reported to have been injured,” she said.

“In the interest of the nation, I urge the Government to work with all sectors of society to find solutions that can help calm the situation and address the grievances of the population. I also urge all those planning to take part in protests later today and going forward, to do so peacefully,” she said.

Bachelet also called on the authorities “to ensure that the rights of individuals to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are respected.”

“There needs to be open and sincere dialogue by all actors concerned to help resolve this situation, including a profound examination of the wide range of socio-economic issues underlying the current crisis,” she added.