University of Minnesota

Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L/V/II.37, Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile, Doc. 19 corr. 1 (1976).




I. Background Information

At the sixth plenary session of its fifth regular session, held on May 19, 1973, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States adopted the following resolution:


It has received the report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on “The Status of Human Rights in Chile,” based upon materials presented to the Commission by various sources, including the Government of Chile, and on its in situ investigation of the facts during its visit to Chile from July 22 to August 2, 1974;

This report, together with the observations of the Government of Chile, was sent to the United Nations and was considered at the Thirty-first Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights;

As a result of this consideration, in which seven member states of the OAS took part, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights unanimously decided to send a working group to Chile to study the present status of human rights in that country; and

Consequently, both the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the next session of the General Assembly will have the additional benefit of a report based on further investigations to assist them in their work in the coming year,



1. To take note, with appreciation, of the report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on “The Status of Human Rights in Chile,” as well as the observations of the Government of Chile on that report.

2. To take note, with approval, of the acceptance by the Government of Chile of the visit of the working group of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

3. To respectfully call upon all the governments, including the Government of Chile, to continue to give the most careful attention to the suggestions and recommendations of the Inter-American Commission concerning human rights.

4. To request the Inter-American Commission to secure, by all appropriate means, additional information, to consider that information, and to submit a report on the status of human rights in Chile to the next session of the General Assembly, ensuring that the Government of Chile has reasonable time to submit its own observations.

2. The preceding resolution was adopted by the General Assembly, after having considered the report prepared by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and approved by the Commission on October 24, 1974, by the unanimity1 of its members, and after having considered the observations on the report made by the Government of Chile in the course of the meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS on December 4, 1974. These observations are found in document OEA/Ser.G/CP/doc.385/74.

3. In conformity with the provisions of paragraph 4 of the resolution of the General Assembly which has been quoted in the preceding, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been required to undertake the task of preparing a second report concerning the situation of human rights in Chile, to examine how this situation has evolved since the date when the Commission finished its observations in loco referred to in the previous report, that is, since August 2, 1974.

4. Since it was the expressed wish of the General Assembly to have available, in the next session, information that is as up to date as possible, and, in addition, to have the Government of Chile provided with a prudent length of time in which to examine the report before it is considered by the Assembly, the Commission has agreed that its new report will cover the period between the date indicated in the preceding paragraph and March 12 of this year, in order that the Government of Chile may be able to examine the report adequately in advance of the date of the opening of the session of the General Assembly.

5. Since the new report is a continuation of the previous report, the same limitations that the Commission placed upon itself in drafting the first report have been maintained in preparing this one. Thus, nothing that is stated in this report implies a prejudgment with respect to the individual cases of presumed violations of human rights that have been denounced and that are still under consideration in conformity with the Regulations of the Commission.

6. In accordance with the wishes expressed by the General Assembly, the Commission has taken note of the contents of the report presented by the Ad-Hoc Working Group of the Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations, gathering some observations that have seemed useful.

II. Method of Work

7. In order to comply with the resolution of the General Assembly, the Commission analyzed the methods to be followed in preparing the new report. After a careful consideration of this, the Commission decided to apply the method of requesting written reports, without foreclosing the possibility of requesting authorization for a new observation in loco if it were eventually to consider this necessary or useful, or without foreclosing any other method of obtaining information.

8. The method of requesting written reports has the advantage of permitting the Commission to refer, at any moment, to the textual language of information provided by the Government, especially if some question should be raised about the impartiality or the equanimity of the Commission’s interpretations of replies from the Government. It can likewise be expressive if some of the requests for information sent to the Government are not answered at all or receive an inadequate reply.

The notes requesting reports from the Government of Chile were, in all cases, addressed to the Minister of Foreign Relations of that country.

9. Our working plans have been seriously perturbed by the attitude adopted by the Government of Chile upon receiving our requests for reports. Some requests—a minority of them—have received incomplete replies; the majority of them, and very important ones, have received no reply whatsoever. This occurred with our note of October 7 and with our two notes of October 20, 1975, the contents of which we will refer to in the body of this report.

10. In a note dated January 8, 1976, which arrived at the office of the Commission on January 22, the Minister of Foreign Relations answered the three notes to which we refer in the preceding paragraph, with the following brief message:

I have the honor to address Your Excellency in reference to your Notes dated 7 and 20 October, in which the Commission presented to my Government several questions of a general nature and requested copies of certain background information.

In reply, I can inform the Chairman that the Government of Chile, as it has up to now, shall continue to respond and to give background information to all requests that the Commission addresses to it concerning individual denunciations that have been received concerning presumed violations of Fundamental Rights and Liberties.

Since the Notes already mentioned do not refer to individual cases, and in the confidence that the questions of a general nature that are presented have their origin in denunciations received by the Commission, my Government awaits concrete inquiries in order to respond to them with the maximum promptitude as Chile has done consistently.

11. The reply of the Minister requires us to make the following comments:

a) Neither the Statutes of the Commission nor the wish of the General Assembly, expressed in charging us with the preparation of a second report concerning the application of human rights in Chile, requires us to limit our investigations and conclusions to those which arise from “individual denunciations” that have been presented to us. With regard to our Statutes, Article 9, section b, leaves no room for doubt with respect to our legal authority to obtain information and to make recommendations to any American Government when we consider it appropriate for the purpose of making the observance of human rights more effective, and is in no sense dependent upon the existence of a prior “individual denunciation.” In regard to Resolution 190 of the General Assembly, adopted on May 19, 1975, after a complicated procedure to which the Government of Chile was not an outsider, the resolution ordered us to make us of “all pertinent methods” to obtain and consider more information, without being able to deny that the most loyal and direct procedure is to request information from the Government whose conduct with respect to the application of human rights is being appraised. Thus, to try to make the right of the Commission to request information dependent upon the prior existence of an “individual denunciation” implies non-recognition of its competence as defined by the Statute that governs the Commission and the unequivocal meaning of the Resolution of the General Assembly, compliance with which is being obstructed. Moreover, the Government of Chile did not abstain from using this same argument when, in reply to our note of September 9, it sent us its note of October 17, 1975. Two different types of conduct in two identical cases.

b) It is especially noteworthy that the Government of Chile, at a time when it seemed to assert that it should not provide information that does not relate to individual cases, that is, that affect specific persons or persons that can be specified, also did not provide information when the Commission requested it—to contribute to the clarification of a general situation—with respect to very specific individual cases. Thus, for example, we have unsuccessfully requested that we be permitted to obtain photocopies of three absolutely specific legal proceedings: the proceeding of the Council of War of Linares against Hugo Alejandro Valdéz y Fuentes and Mario Eleazar Mora Arévalo, a proceeding which Members of this Commission witnessed in part; the proceeding of the Council of War of Concepción, inscribed as Nº 1645/73, against José Isidoro Saldías and others; and the decision of the Council of War in the case called the “Bachelet case.” So, information is denied when it is not possible to invoke an “individual denunciation,” and it is also denied with reference to individual cases which the Commission first learned about as “individual denunciations.”

12. It is obvious that the attitude adopted by the Government of Chile does not excuse the Commission from compliance with its duty. It only deprives it of the principal source of information to which it should turn, as it tried to do.

The very delay with which we were informed of the decision of the Chilean Government—the replies to our notes of October 7 and 20 arrived in our hands on January 22—had the practical effect of obstructing us from trying again, in adequate time, to obtain from the Government the information that had not been provided. We had made note of the fact, in all our communications, that it was necessary to receive the requested information before the end of December, in order that we might have the time to prepare our report carefully and to submit it to the Government of Chile the necessary time in advance so that the Chilean Government would be able to prepare its objections and observations before the meeting of the General Assembly which was originally planned for the moth of April, 1976.

Consequently, we have carried out our work making use of other sources of information that we possess, without prejudice to the sifting of conclusions that can be taken from the lack of opportune information from the Government of Chile.

III. Plan of the Report

13. The experience gained from the preparation of the first report has induced this Commission to arrange the present report in separate chapters, following the order in which the various human rights have been proclaimed in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. We shall abstain from referring to those human rights with respect to which there have not been developments or changes worthy of special consideration during the period covered by this report.

14. We consider it necessary to begin this study with a chapter in which there are described the principal changes introduced in the system of governmental standards in effect in Chile, from August 1974 to 1976, insofar as these relate to the effective application and protection of human rights.




1 It is to be noted that, after the expiration of the period specified in the regulations, and in a communication to the President of the Commission, the Commission member, don Manuel Bianchi, expressed his disagreement with certain passages of the report.


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