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Chile 2023

Legislation increased protection for the police. Impunity persisted for human rights violations committed during protests in 2019. A plan for the search for forcibly disappeared people was presented. Refugees and migrants were still subject to discriminatory measures and faced obstacles to international protection. Violations of the rights of LGBTI people, Indigenous Peoples and women continued. Chile’s position on new mining projects was inconsistent.


On 17 December, by a vast majority, Chile rejected a proposal for a new constitution; the 1980 constitution remained in force.

The government declared a state of emergency in several regions of the country.

The 50th anniversary of Augusto Pinochet coming to power by force was commemorated.1 Historical denial about human rights violations during that period increased.

The government introduced a bill to reform anti-terrorism legislation. No significant progress was made in the reform of anti-discrimination law.

Excessive use of force

In April, the Naín-Retamal Law was approved with the stated aim of protecting the police. The law increased penalties for crimes against the police, established privileged self-defence in favour of the police regarding the use of force, and modified the crime of unlawful coercion.2

No progress was made towards a comprehensive reform of the Carabineros (police force), but the government did introduce bills to regulate the use of force for safeguarding public order and security.

Right to truth, justice and reparation

Impunity continued for most human rights violations committed during the 2019 social upheaval. According to the Attorney General’s Office, as of December, out of 10,142 complaints relating to violations committed at that time, charges were filed in only 127 cases, resulting in 38 convictions and 17 acquittals.

Convictions were handed down against Carabineros officers for human rights violations committed in 2019 against Josué Maureira and Mario Acuña. A nullity appeal filed in defence of the army officer who shot Carlos Astudillo was rejected. In La Serena, four army officers were convicted for crimes of unnecessary violence committed in the context of the 2019 protests. Under the Naín-Retamal Law, a court acquitted five members of the Carabineros from Padre Hurtado municipality, who had been accused of unlawful coercion during the 2019 upheaval.

The Metropolitan North Central Prosecutor’s Office continued investigating the alleged crime of unlawful coercion and crimes against humanity regarding former members of the President Piñera administration and Carabineros high command for their role during the 2019 upheaval. Ricardo Yáñez, general director of the Carabineros, did not attend most of the summons to testify as a defendant, and in another case exercised his right to remain silent. No formal charges were presented against Carabineros high command.3

The Roundtable for Integral Reparation delivered its conclusions, but no progress was made on a reparation policy for victims of human rights violations committed during the upheaval.4

The national search plan for people forcibly disappeared during the regime of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) was presented and its implementation remained pending. The government announced the National Memory and Heritage Policy to protect memorial sites relating to this period.

A bill was introduced to conditionally lift the secrecy over the testimonies of torture victims collected by the Valech Commission, a national commission mandated to document political detentions and torture during the Pinochet era.

Indigenous Peoples’ rights

The government announced the members of the Commission for Peace and Understanding, established to seek a political solution regarding the demands put forward by the Mapuche people.

Chile recognized the Selk’nam as Indigenous Peoples and included them as recipients of the legal rights assigned to Indigenous Peoples.

In February, a group of Mapuche people from the El Roble-Carimallín lof (the basic form of Mapuche social organization) protested outside Carimallín private land, in the community of Río Bueno, where the Norwegian company Statkraft planned to install a hydroelectric plant. The Mapuche claimed the project was situated in a sacred and culturally significant area. Carabineros broke up the demonstration with tear gas and riot guns, injuring four Mapuche people.

Refugees’ and migrants’ rights

In February, the government deployed military troops along its borders with Bolivia and Peru to prevent the irregular entry of migrants and refugees, mostly affecting Venezuelans seeking protection.5

Venezuelan nationals continued to face obstacles to protection, including the requirement to report their irregular entry into the country to access the asylum procedure.6 These obstacles, together with the low rate of recognition of refugee status, have hindered access to education, health services and employment for Venezuelans in Chile.7

The National Public Prosecutor’s Office gave the order to request pretrial detention for foreign nationals charged with crimes if they do not have a national identity card.

In June, a biometric registration process was implemented for foreigners aged over 18 who had entered Chile through unauthorized border crossings before 30 May 2023. This caused concern in the context of the government’s restrictive practices and proposals regarding migrants and refugees, including irregular expulsions.

The government issued the National Migration Policy´s decree in December, which enforced measures such as biometric registration and the creation of a committee in charge of expulsions.

LGBTI people’s rights

After a judgment from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the government acknowledged Chile’s responsibility for violating the rights to equality and non-discrimination in the case of Sandra Pavez Pavez, a teacher who was discriminated against because of her sexual orientation.

Sexual and gender-based violence

Women in Chile continued to be affected by gender-based violence. A bill to progress towards a comprehensive approach to addressing violence against women was still pending approval in Congress.

Sexual and reproductive rights

The Comprehensive Sex Education Bill announced in 2022 had not been passed by the end of the year.

Chile made no progress in adopting a legal framework to fully decriminalize abortion and ensure equal and barrier-free access to safe abortion services.

Human rights defenders

A law on the protection of human rights defenders had not been passed by the end of the year. The government did, however, start drafting a protocol for the protection of human rights defenders, the environment, communicators, and justice system operators.

Right to a healthy environment

The government rejected the Dominga mining project in the Coquimbo region because of its environmental impact, but approved the Los Bronces Integrado mining project in the Metropolitan region, despite opposition by environmental organizations.

Chile announced its implementation plan for the Escazú Agreement.

  1. “Chile: 50 years since the coup d’état, exercising historical memory is vital for the country’s future”, 8 September
  2. “Chile: Bill on privileged legitimate defence could increase police abuses and impunity for these crimes”, 30 March
  3. “Chilean prosecutor must act against impunity”, 4 October
  4. “Chile: Comprehensive reparation for human rights violations committed in the context of the social upheaval”, 31 May (Spanish only)
  5. “Peru/Chile: Authorities must end militarization of borders in response to arrival of people in need of protection”, 27 April
  6. Americas: Regularization and Protection. International Obligations for the Protection of Venezuelan Nationals, 21 September
  7. Chile: “No One Wants to Live in Hiding”: Lack of Protection for Venezuelan Refugees in Chile, 7 March