- For defenders
- How can I help?
In 2010, the National Human Rights Institute (Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos, INDH) was established as an autonomous government body, representing an important step for human rights discussion and documentation in the country. In the same year, after national, regional and international mobilisation, the government amended the anti-terror law, strengthening due process guarantees. In May 2012, a new anti-discrimination law was enacted, recognising diversity and penalising all forms of discrimination. Although not specifically protecting LGBTI rights, the law is seen as a positive step for LGBTI rights defenders and its approval was expedited after the brutal killing of a young openly gay man, who was severely beaten and had his body marked with swastikas.
Despite these positive developments, human rights defenders (HRDs) face a number of challenges, including the continuing use of anti-terrorism legislation, the violent dispersal of protests, arrest, and assaults.
In recent years widespread street protests occurred over education and environmental government policies. Tens of thousands of human rights defenders, including students, teachers, trade unionists and others took part in demonstrations, demanding fundamental changes to the public education system in Chile. Although most demonstrations were peaceful, many culminated in confrontations with the police. There have been repeated reports of torture and other ill-treatment against students arbitrarily detained by police during the demonstrations.
HRDs working for the rights of Mapuche indigenous people continue to face criminal charges under anti-terror legislation, and demonstrations in favour of indigenous peoples' rights have been met with violent police response. In 2010, the crisis reached a peak when images surfaced of police violence against the Rapa Nui people of Easter Island, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures to this indigenous community. Human rights defenders representing Mapuche individuals in criminal proceedings or accompanying victims and family members have been subjected to judicial harassment, illegal interception of communications, and other acts of intimidation.
Charges on criminal defamation and desacato (“disrespect”) are still sporadically used against journalists. Journalist and visual media professionals attempting to cover protests and strikes have been subjected to harassment, detention, and attacks. In 2011, a media company was victim of a small bomb outside its office, and cyber attacks were launched on news websites. Since 2008, journalists covering land conflicts involving the Mapuche indigenous people have faced physical and judicial harassment. A documentary film depicting the Mapuche land conflict was denied national distribution, and the film-maker charged with “links with a terrorist group” and detained for three months.