RIGHT TO PERSONAL INTEGRITY
American Declaration: Article I. Every human being has the right to life, liberty and the security of his person.
1. On November 30, 1976, the Commission transmitted a note on this matter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Chile, Vice-Admiral Patricio Carvajal, worded as follows:
We have the honor to request Your Excellency that the Government of Chile provide such information as it may deem pertinent with regard to the proceedings that have been brought against governmental agents responsible or allegedly responsible for acts of torture and with regard to the results of those proceedings.
The Commission is especially interested in knowing whether Article 2 of Supreme Decree Nº 187, of January 28, 1976, has been applied in any case; if the response to this question is in the affirmative, before what authority did the Ministry of Justice file charges of mistreatment of or undue force used against detainees and the results of such proceedings as have taken place as a consequence of this charge, listing the names of such agents as may have been found guilty of these acts and such punishment as may have been imposed.
In this regard we feel it proper to point out that at the Sixth Regular Session of the General Assembly, which took place in Santiago in June of this year, Ambassador Sergio Diez stated that proceedings had been initiated against a number of agents accused of acts of this kind, but he did not provide any specific information as to their outcome.
The information we now request would be very useful in preparing the report on the situation of human rights in Chile which the General Assembly of the Organization of American States has entrusted to this Commission by resolution AG/RES. 243 (VI-076), of June 17, 1976.
We would ask that Your Excellency kindly provide this information no later than February 1, 1977, so that it may be taken into consideration at the next session of the Commission, which will begin on January 31, 1977.
Accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Andrés Aguilar M.
2. The Government of Chile replied to this questionnaire by a note dated January 27, 1977, which reads as follows:
With reference to such proceedings as may have been conducted against governmental agents responsible or allegedly responsible for acts of torture and the results thereof, note should be made of the fact that in compliance with the provisions of Supreme Decree Nº 187, of January 26, 1976, published in the Diario Oficial of January 30 of that year, the President of the Supreme Court, the Minister of Justice, the Deputy Secretary of Justice and the President of the Court of Appeals of Valparaíso, made a number of visits, both jointly and individually, to various places of detention, on the following dates:
a) March 8, 1976: The President of the Supreme Court visited Tres Álamos. The Minister of Justice visited Cuatro Álamos, accompanied by the Deputy Secretary of that Ministry, the Director of the National Health Service and the Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine.
b) March 9, 1976: The President of the Supreme Court visited Tres Álamos, a place of confinement for individuals arrested for violating the standards in force for the state of siege.
c) March 10, 1976: The President of the Supreme Court and the Minister of Justice, accompanied by the Director of National Intelligence, visited the place called Terranova (formerly called Villa Grimaldi).
d) March 26, 1976: The President of the Supreme Court visited Tres Álamos and Cuatro Álamos, in the company of the Metropolitan Area Director of the National Health Service, who there examined some of the inmates.
e) March 30, 1976: The Minister of Justice, accompanied by the Deputy Secretary of that Ministry, by the Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine and by a physician from the National Health Service, visited Tres Álamos and Cuatro Álamos.
f) April 14, 1976: The President of the Supreme Court and the Minister of Justice, accompanied by the Deputy Secretary of that Ministry, by the Director General of the National Health Service and by the Director of the Forensic Medicine Service, visited the Puchuncaví Detention Camp.
g) May 5, 1976: The Minister of Justice visited Cuatro Álamos, accompanied by the Director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine.
h) July 6, 1976: The Deputy Secretary of Justice and the President of the Court of Appeals of Valparaíso, with the autorization of the Minister of Justice and the President of the Supreme Court, met at the Puchuncaví Detention Camp.
i) July 28, 1976: The President of the Supreme Court visited Tres Álamos and Cuatro Álamos.
j) September 10, 1976: The President of the Court of Appeals of Valparaíso visited Puchuncaví.
Generally speaking, no charges of violence or mistreatment were made during the visits in question. The claims made referred only to excessive number of people in relation to the facilities available at the detention sites. This was referred to the Minister of the Interior who adopted the measures necessary to rectify the problem.
At present, only one individual is being held by virtue of the state of siege.
On only one visit was a complaint registered, and that by Mr. Leonidas Guerrero. Because of the complaint, on November 18, 1976, the Naval Judge of Valparaíso opened Peacetime Case Nº 4793 with the purpose of looking into the charges of mistreatment. The case is now before the courts and the prosecutor is looking into the background surrounding the event. Since it is peacetime, the claimant can carry his case as high as the Supreme Court, if necessary.
As for the statements made by the Ambassador of Chile, Mr. Sergio Diez, at the sixth regular session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, which took place in Santiago in June of last year, it should be clarified that the remarks do not refer to proceedings initiated in application of Decree Nº 187 but rather to events that took place during the first stages of the national emergency, much before this Decree was issued.
At any rate, the names of the individuals involved in these crimes, according to the information provided to the Ministry of Justice by the Chilean Gendarmerie, are as follows:
1) GATICA SOTO, HERNÁN: Tried for the crime of unnecessary violence, is at present serving a sentence in the penitentiary at Osorno.
2) SEPÚLVEDA CAMPOS, SEGUNDO: Tried for the crime of undue violence, is at present confined in the Angel Prison.
3. The reply received from the Government of Chile calls for some comment. Of course, one must view as positive the fact that in fulfillment of Supreme Decree Nº 187, of January 26, 1976, ten visits were made between May 12 and September 10, 1976 to various detention centers, including some where, according to repeated denunciations received by the Commission, the inmates were submitted to every form of mistreatment. However, the results of these visits, according to the information provided by the Government of Chile, allow one to think that Decree Nº 187 has not, in practice, yielded the results hoped for in this matter. On only one of the visits, that to which the note from the Government of Chile refers, was a complaint of mistreatment filed, while the Commission has in its hands testimony from more than 150 individuals, some of whom were being held in these centers of confinement during the period in which the visits were made, who claim that they were victims of various forms of physical and psychological duress.
4. Furthermore, according to this information, only two individuals are now being tried for the crime of mistreatment and an investigation has been launched to look into the charges of mistreatment filed by Mr. Leonidas Guerrero. During the discussion that took place in the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs at the sixth regular session of the General Assembly with regard to the report of the IACHR, Ambassador Sergio Diez, a member of the Chilean Delegation, stated, according to notes taken down by those members of the Commission present—which agree with what appeared in the press reports--, that 153 cases of abuses of power by military and police authorities were being tried and that 41 individuals had already been found guilty of these acts.
5. It should also be borne in mind that over the last three years the Commission has transmitted to the Government of Chile the pertinent parts of very concrete denunciations of physical and psychological duress against individuals deprived of their freedom, indicating both the time and place; that to date the Commission has never been informed that, as a result of the investigation of those denunciations, proceedings have been brought against those allegedly responsible or that any individual has been condemned for these crimes.
6. The Commission wishes to reiterate that to date, the Government of Chile has not implemented an effective policy against torture which demands above all that those found responsible for these acts be brought to trial and punished. So long as such measures are not implemented, the Government of Chile will continue to expose itself to the accusation that torture has been tolerated.
7. Article 1 of Constitutional Act Nº 3, of September 13, 1976, expressly upholds the right to the integrity of the individual and prohibits the application of any illegal force.
8. The Commission hopes that setting forth these standards in a legal text of this stature will result in the application of effective measures to prevent and avoid the occurrence of illegal force used against prisoners.