Chile: Amnesty International demands investigations into Carabineros’ former and current General Directors for human rights violations

Amnesty International published a new video today calling on the Chilean National Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the high command of the Carabineros, specifically the former Director General and the current Director General, for widespread human rights violations committed during the period of social unrest that began in October 2019.

Given the imminent closure of the investigation into the attacks that left Gustavo Gatica permanently blind, set for 30 July; the review of the precautionary measures against the Carabinero identified as having shot the tear gas canister that blinded Fabiola Campillai, and the request for an extension of the deadline for the investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office in this case, which will be on 28 July; Amnesty International considers investigations of the full chain of command to be as necessary as they are urgent.

“It’s disappointing that, after more than 20 months, only small steps have been taken to investigate some of the Carabineros’ strategic commanders, and none in individual cases. There are good reasons to believe that the former General Director and the then-Director of Order and Security – who is now the current Director General – could have consented to the commission of acts of torture and ill-treatment against protesters, including cases as serious as that of Gustavo Gatica or Fabiola Campillai,” said Clara del Campo, campaigner for South America at Amnesty International.

Clara del Campo also stated that the fact that a person is investigated for their alleged responsibility in committing a crime does not nullify the presumption of innocence that everyone enjoys.

“The delay in the investigation into commanders is even more alarming in a context where social protest in Chile endures and continues to be repressed with police violence. The methods and weapons have changed, but the intention to harm the protesters persists. Until there is accountability from the high command, we will continue to lament human rights violations. Impunity fuels repetition.”

In October 2020, Amnesty International published a thorough report, Eyes on Chile: Police violence and command responsibility during the period of social unrest, in which it analyzed the actions of Carabineros officers between 18 October and 30 November 2019. It concluded that serious human rights violations had been committed, including widespread violations of the rights of to personal integrity, because the strategic commanders did not take all the necessary measures to prevent them from happening. In said report, the organization warned that, in order to guarantee the non-repetition of events such as those analyzed in the report, it is not only necessary to judge all those responsible, up to the highest possible level, but also that the Carabineros institution be substantially reformed. Both recommendations remain necessary and urgent.