Impunity persisted for human rights violations committed during the mass protests of 2019. Authorities created some mechanisms to advance reparations for victims. Human rights defenders continued to be threatened and attacked. Proposed reforms regarding rights to health and sexual and reproductive rights remained pending legislative proceedings at the end of the year. Refugees and migrants continued to face significant obstacles to remaining in the country.
In September, citizens rejected by a large majority a proposal for a new constitution that would have strengthened protections for economic, social, cultural and environmental rights. Different political sectors committed to initiate a new constituent process.
Northern and southern territories of the country were under a prolonged state of emergency for much of the year due to the migration crisis and conflict between the state and Mapuche people.
Chile ratified the Escazú Agreement in May.
Excessive use of force, and right to truth, justice and reparation
Some protests were registered, primarily in the capital, Santiago. In some instances, police responded with excessive use of force.
By the end of the year, the Public Prosecutor’s Office had brought charges in only 140 of the 10,938 complaints of human rights violations by state officials relating to the social upheavals in late 2019. The cases resulted in 17 convictions and two acquittals.
A court convicted a former captain in the Carabineros (National Police) of unlawful coercion in connection with the injuries sustained by Fabiola Campillai. She lost her eyesight and senses of smell and taste after police fired a tear gas canister in her face as she was walking to a bus stop in November 2019.
A former police commander was charged in connection with the case of Gustavo Gatica, who was injured during the November 2019 protests and lost his eyesight; an investigation in the case was ongoing.
A civilian court sentenced an army officer convicted of the killing of Kevin Gómez in the city of Coquimbo in October 2019 to five years’ imprisonment.
The North Central Prosecutor’s Office continued investigating high-ranking members of the administration of former president Sebastián Piñera for crimes against humanity and torture and other ill-treatment (“unlawful coercion” in the Chilean Criminal Code). Among those under investigation were members of the Carabineros high command accused of responsibility for widespread human rights violations and crimes under international law during the 2019 social crisis.
The government announced a Police Reform Commission and a Consultative Unit and a Comprehensive Agenda for Truth, Justice and Reparation for victims of the social crisis and established a Round-table for Comprehensive Reparation to advance the drafting of reparation policy and law.
The government announced a new programme to provide reparation to the more than 400 people who sustained eye trauma during the protests, replacing the much-criticized existing programme.
A court sentenced a Carabineros officer to four years’ intensive probation for inflicting eye trauma on a protester at a student march in 2013.
Courts convicted 10 former military officers in the “Quemados” case in which Rodrigo Rojas de Negri and Carmen Gloria Quintana were beaten and burned with fuel during a protest in 1986; Rodrigo Rojas died of his injuries.
The government launched a National Search Plan for Disappeared Detainees to determine the fate of more than 1,000 people who were forcibly disappeared under the regime of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).
Arbitrary arrests and detentions
People accused of alleged offences during the 2019 mass protests remained in detention. Many were acquitted due to lack of evidence after long periods in preventive detention; in some cases evidence was found to have been fabricated. Protests demanding their release continued during the year. An amnesty law for those accused in relation to the social protests in 2019 remained under discussion in Congress. At the end of the year, the government granted 13 pardons, nearly all to people detained during the crisis.
Indigenous peoples´ rights
A court convicted three Carabineros of unlawful coercion and harassment for forcing Mapuche children in Ercilla to strip during an identity check in 2018.
A new trial was held into the death of Alex Lemun, a Mapuche adolescent who was shot by police in November 2002 in the commune of Angol. The new trial followed an Inter-American Commission on Human Rights decision in the case that Chile was responsible for various human rights violations. In November, a court sentenced a colonel in the Carabineros to seven years in prison in connection with the death.
Sexual and reproductive rights
The Ministry of Education announced a Comprehensive Sexuality Education Bill but failed to submit it to Congress.
Right to health
Chile had one of the highest mortality rates associated with Covid-19 in the Americas in 2022: 3,215 deaths per million inhabitants. One of the new government’s electoral promises was reform towards a universal healthcare system.
LGBTI people’s rights
Congress abolished the higher age of consent for same-sex relationships. However, congressional review of changes to the Anti-Discrimination Law to address LGBTI rights made little progress.
Human rights defenders and journalists
Verónica Vilches, a defender of the right to water in Petorca province, received new death threats and the house of Lorena Donaire, also a water defender from the same province, was burned down in June. Investigations into the incidents were continuing at the end of the year.
During an International Workers’ Day march, a female reporter from a community television channel was shot by a civilian and later died of her injuries.
High levels of pollution affected the cities of Quintero and Puchuncaví, Valparaíso Region, resulting in critical public health risks several times during the year. The authorities announced the progressive closure of the Ventanas smelter, the installation responsible for some of the largest sulphur dioxide emissions in the region.
Refugees’ and migrants’ rights
Authorities continued to use unlawful pre-admissibility practices to deny people access to refugee status determination procedures. Procedures were lengthy, lasting between two and four years, and very few individuals were recognized as refugees. Authorities restarted the immediate expulsion of foreign nationals without assessing whether they were in need of international protection or the risks they would face if expelled.
Torture and other ill-treatment
The National Committee for the Prevention of Torture confirmed that human rights violations had been committed at a psychiatric hospital in the Valparaíso Region. However, the Valparaíso Prosecutor’s Office requested the definitive dismissal of the investigation.