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UA 398/90 - Chile: Legal concern: Juan Pablo Cardenas, Juan Andres Lagos Espinoza, Alfonso Stephens, Guillermo Torres

, Index number: AMR 22/008/1990

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 22/08/90
Distr: UA/SC
UA 398/90 Legal Concern 4 October 1990
CHILE: Juan Pablo Cárdenas, journalist
Juan Andrés Lagos Espinoza, journalist
Alfonso Stephens, journalist
Guillermo Torres, journalist
Amnesty International is concerned about the arrests of three journalists:
Juan Pablo Cárdenas, director of Análisis magazine, Juan Andrés Lagos Espinoza,
Director of El Siglo newspaper, and Alfonso Stephens, a columnist of Analisis
magazine. The arrests were ordered by military prosecutors (fiscales
militares) on charges of offending the armed forces (ofensas a las fuerzas
armadas). Arrests warrants for the same charges are pending against Guillermo
Torres, editor of El Siglo.
Juan Pablo Cárdenas was arrested at work on 26 September 1990 at 10:30am by
plainclothed carabineros (police agents) who allegedly refused to present an
arrest warrant. His detention was ordered by the 6th Military Prosecutor's
Office. On 28 September, Juan Pablo Cárdenas was sent to the Anexo Capuchinos
prison in Santiago charged with offending the armed forces. The charge relates
to articles published in July, August and September 1990 by Análisis magazine
which discussed the involvement of the armed forces in past human rights abuses.
Juan Andrés Lagos Espinoza was arrested on 21 September 1990 at 4:00am at his
home in Santiago by carabineros. His detention followed five arrest warrants
issued by the 4th, 5th and 6th Military Prosecutor's Offices. On 28 September,
he was sent to the Anexo Capuchinos prison in Santiago charged with "offending
the armed forces" and "inciting sedition" (instigación a la sedición). The
charges arose from articles published in July and August 1990 by El Siglo
newspaper related to the involvement of the military in past human rights abuses.
Alfonso Stephens, a 73 year-old lawyer, was detained on 21 September 1990 in
Rancagua by carabineros. His arrest was ordered by the 6th Military
Prosecutor's Office. Alfonso Stephens was sent to the Anexo Capuchinos prison
in Santiago charged with offending the armed forces, arising from an article
he wrote about military courts and crimes of war which was published by Análisis
magazine in September 1990.
Guillermo Torres faces a similar situation after his arrest was ordered by
the 6th Military Prosecutor's Office on charges of offences against the armed
forces in relation to articles published in August 1990 by El Siglo about
military involvement in past human rights abuses. Guillermo Torres, secretary
general of the Colegio de Periodistas (Journalists' Association) and editor
of El Siglo newspaper, is presently a "fugitive from military justice", since
he has chosen to protest the orders by refusing to appear in court.
In the past two months, 18 journalists have been summoned to appear before
the military courts. The Colegio de Periodistas has recently issued a statement
calling for journalists not to voluntarily present themselves before a military
prosecutor's office.
Most of the prosecutions have been brought under article 284 of the Code of
Military Justice which makes it an offence to "threaten, offend or insult the
armed forces, either verbally, in writing or in any other way".
The derogation of this and other similar laws passed during the military
government is presently under discussion in Parliament. A bill to reform the
Code of Military Justice reducing its jurisdiction to strictly military matters
has been recently approved by the Chamber of Deputies and is about to be voted
on in the Senate.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail letters:
- expressing concern at the arrests of Juan Pablo Cárdenas, Juan Andrés Lagos
Espinoza and Alfonso Stephens, apparently for exercising freedom of expression
and asking for their immediate and unconditional release;
- expressing concern at the arrest warrants against Guillermo Torres, apparently
for exercising freedom of expression and asking that such warrant be immediately
- expressing concern at the continuing prosecution of journalists under military
justice in Chile for expressing their views, and repeating calls for measures
to be taken to allow them to exercise their profession without fear of harassment
and detention;
- welcoming the present discussions in the Chilean Congress to modify the
military Code of Justice.
Sr. Francisco Cumplido (Minister of Justice)
Ministro de Justicia
Ministerio de Justicia
Compañía 1111
Santiago, Chile
Telegrams: Ministro Justicia, Santiago, Chile
Telexes: 242316
Faxes: + 696 6952
Sr. Enrique Krauss Rusque (Minister of the Interior)
Ministro del Interior
Palacio de la Moneda
Santiago, Chile
Telegrams: Ministro Interior, Santiago, Chile
Telexes: 240273
Colegio de Periodistas de Chile (Journalists' Association)
Amunátegui 31
Santiago, Chile
FASIC (Human rights organization)
Manuel Rodríguez 33
Santiago, Chile
and to diplomatic representatives of Chile in your country
Please organize appeals from JOURNALISTS
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International
Secretariat, or your section office, if sending appeals after
15 November 1990.

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