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UN report finds police, army abuse of power in Chile

UN report finds police, army abuse of power in Chile
30-page report produced by UN team which spent most of November researching situation across seven regions of Chile

By Vakkas Dogantekin

ANKARA (AA) - The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday said the police and army in Chile have violated international human rights norms and standards during the recent mass protests and state of emergency.

After 235 interviews with victims and 60 interviews with police officers, the UN team concluded a 30-page report that detailed extensive allegations of torture, ill-treatment, rape and other forms of sexual violence by the police against people held in detention, many of whom appear to have been detained "arbitrarily".

"In all, according to official figures, more than 28,000 people were detained between 18 October and 6 December, although the great majority have been released," said the report.

They documented 113 cases of torture and ill-treatment, and 24 cases of sexual violence against women, men and adolescent girls and boys.

The Office of the Public Prosecutor in Chile has indicated there are ongoing criminal probes into 26 deaths that occurred during the protests.

The report also cited that there had been "unnecessary and disproportionate use of less-lethal weapons, in particular anti-riot shotguns".

"The alarmingly high number of persons with injuries to their eyes or faces (approximately 350) provides a strong basis to believe that 'less-lethal weapons' have been used improperly and indiscriminately," the report said.

UN team made a few recommendations to Chilean officials in their handling of the mass protests such as "immediately" ending "the indiscriminate use of anti-riot shotguns to control demonstrations" among others.

"Recognizing and learning from what happened, we should look forward in a constructive way," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.

- Chile protests

The troubling protests, which engulfed Chile in response to a now-suspended 4% transport fare hike, turned violent on Oct. 19, leaving dozens dead and thousands injured.

After months of dissent against the government of President Sebastian Pinera, Chileans last marched Tuesday on International Human Rights Day for the 352 people who lost their eye sight partially or totally during the protests.

They were carrying banner featuring an eye-drawing that read "the eyes of the people accuse the terrorist state."

According to the National Institute of Human Rights, more than 6,000 people have been arrested and 3,449 others injured over the past month.

Chilean prosecutors opened a total of 2,670 criminal investigations on human rights violations committed by security forces during the protests.

The president accepted protesters' demands earlier this month to change the constitution, which dates back to the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

Pinera also announced concessions to roll back the fare hike, raise the minimum wage and place a hold on electricity prices until next year in a bid to contain strife.

Chile's lower house on Thursday rejected a motion to impeach Pinera over allegations that he failed to manage the protests and human rights violations across the country.

Pinera, a conservative billionaire and former president, won Chile's presidency in December 2017, against his center-left opponent Alejandro Guillier.

source: News Feed
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