GENEVA November 8, 2019 – UN human rights experts have condemned the excessive use of force by security forces in Chile during the recent weeks of protests.
At least 20 people are reported to have been killed and about 1600 hurt, including police officers, during protests that began in early October over rising transport costs, and deeply entrenched inequality. A state of emergency was declared in a number of provinces on 19 October amid escalating violence. Thousands of people have also been detained, including children and adolescents.
“Violence can never be the answer to people’s social and political demands, the high number of wounded and the way in which non-lethal weapons have been used seems to indicate that the use of force was excessive and violated the requirements of necessity and proportionality,” said the experts who are appointed by the Human Rights Council and serve in their personal capacities
They experts are also deeply concerned by reports of the excessive use of force against individuals before detention and reports of abuses perpetrated against children, ill-treatment and beatings that could constitute torture. There have also been reports of sexual violence against women, men and adolescents, including practices such as forced stripping, touching and rape in detention. “Women and children have been actively participating in the ongoing protests and the State must address their specific protection concerns”, the experts said.
The independent experts rejected all acts of violence committed by private individuals, reminding that “the Government of Chile has an obligation not only to respect human rights but to protect people against violent acts committed by private individuals. It must allow protests to take place by isolating those who resort to violence, while guaranteeing that everyone in the country can enjoy their rights.”
The independent experts welcomed the decision of the authorities to invite a mission from the UN Human Rights Office to the country. The mission will assess the human rights situation related to protests and the state of emergency in Chile, including the identification of the main patterns of human rights violations, the analysis of the response of Chilean state institutions as well as the causes related to the protests.
Finally, the experts have engaged in correspondence with the authorities and discussed their expressed willingness to pursue and determine the responsibilities in cases of human rights violations, in particular those committed by agents of the State.