INSTALLATIONS THE COMMISSION WAS NOT ABLE TO VISIT ESTABLISHMENTS DENOUNCED AS TORTURE CENTERS
1. It has already been indicated that during the visits outlined in the preceding Chapter, Commission members were accompanied in all cases by military authorities. It should be stated that the accompanying officials did not hinder or disturb the Commission's work. They always stayed discretely apart while the Commission members interrogated the prisoners, who therefore could speak more freely.
2. But it is also necessary to indicate a reservation of the greatest importance, which has nothing to do with the duties performed by those officials.
During the interrogations of prisoners, both in Santiago and outside Santiago, in the north and in the south, of the large number who stated that they had been subjected to torture, in some cases brutally with visible marks remaining, most of them asserted that the torture was not applied in the establishments where they were or had been detained, but in certain places where they were taken for that purpose. According to what they told the Commission, they were interrogated there, and in the interrogations, a wide range of physical and psychological torture was employed.
3. With significant unanimity, in widely-separated establishments, we were told that the places used for torture were the following:
a) A building of the Santiago Investigations Bureau, commonly known as “la patilla”, which is on the lower floor of its local headquarters.
b) The property at Nº 38 Londres Street, also called “The House of Terror” or “The House of the Bells”. The latter name was due to the fact that the bells of a nearby church can be hard inside the house.
c) The Air Force War Academy, indicated as a very important center for physical torture.
d) A section of the Military Hospital, in which tortures are reportedly controlled with medical supervision.
e) The Navy ship “Esmeralda”.
It is important to note that similar descriptions have been given of those places by prisoners widely separated from each other.
Of course, the tortures were applied to both men and women, and they took the most aberrant forms in the latter case.
4. Then, when the Commission members, having completed their investigations and still not having received the promised identification cards, expressed their intention to visit those installations, they were told that such a visit could not be made, because the installations had recently been declared “military areas”.
This refusal prevented completing a task of utmost importance, namely, comparing the descriptions, which agreed with each other, of the alleged torture rooms, with the various locations in the buildings mentioned.
The Commission is absolutely certain that a high-level and completely independent investigating commission designated by the Government of Chile would not have the slightest difficulty in making the checks that the Commission members were prevented from carrying out.
That is the only—but serious—reservation that must be made regarding cooperation given to the Commission to enable it to perform its duties.
1 See Emile Giraud: “Le respect des droits de l'homme dans la guerre internationale et dans la guerre civile » in Revue de Droit Public, t LXXIV, Nº 4, p. 613 et seq.