IACHR

Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Creation of Office of Ombudsman for Children in Chile

March 12, 2018

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9000
mrivero@oas.org

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the enactment of a law creating the Office of the Ombudsman for Children in Chile. This is an important component in the process of creating a child protection system in Chile that can better protect the rights of children and adolescents and prevent these rights from being violated.

According to the information available, the Office of the Ombudsman for Children was created as an autonomous agency with a mission to independently monitor the effective exercise of the rights of children and adolescents in the country, and it will begin operating within five months. The Office of the Ombudsman for Children has a mandate to monitor whether the State is complying with its international obligations and with Chilean laws related to the rights of children and adolescents, and it is also charged with promoting, protecting, and defending these rights. The law creating the Office of the Ombudsman gives it key areas of authority, in keeping with recommendations made by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child; however, it does not confer the broadest possible authority in terms of the Office of the Ombudsman’s capacity to represent individual children in court. The Commission has also received information indicating that another bill is pending in Chile that would seek to create an Assistant Secretariat for Children.

The Commission draws attention to the mandate of the new Office of the Ombudsman for Children, as it represents an effective element for the implementation of children’s and adolescents’ rights. The IACHR welcomes these developments and invites the State of Chile to move forward with the approval of legislation that would recognize the rights of children and adolescents, as well as to create a comprehensive rights protection system for children that includes the necessary institutional framework and operational model to ensure the effective exercise of their rights.

The IACHR especially welcomes the fact that the law expressly provides that procedures established for appointing the person who will hold the position must ensure the observance of the Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris Principles). Along these lines, the law establishes the principles of disclosure, transparency, suitability, and nondiscrimination, and ensures that academics with an outstanding track record and civil society organizations that focus on children’s rights can participate in the selection process. The IACHR is also pleased about the provision in the law that creates an Advisory Council to advise the Office of the Ombudsman in the fulfillment of its mandate; this council would be made up of representatives of civil society, universities, and children’s organizations.

In that regard, the IACHR Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child, Commissioner and First Vice-President Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, commended the fact “that the law ensures the participation of girls and boys on the Advisory Council, thus recognizing the importance of the opinions and views of children and adolescents themselves in the operation of the Office of the Ombudsman for Children.” The Rapporteur also called to mind the need for the State “to ensure that the Office of the Ombudsman has the financial, material, and human resources it needs to fully meet its mandate, ensuring that it can cover the whole country, and that this new and important office will not find that its capacity to act is limited in practical terms.”

The IACHR also welcomes statements made by President Michelle Bachelet in promulgating the law that creates the Office of the Ombudsman, in which she emphasized the State’s commitment to intensify efforts to create the necessary institutional framework to protect children in the country, including the prospect of eventually creating an Assistant Secretariat for Children, as provided for in the bill that is now pending.

IACHR Commissioner and Second Vice-President Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva, Rapporteur for Chile, commended these advancements and urged the State “to continue resolutely, and as a priority, with initiatives designed to approve a law that recognizes and guarantees the rights of this population group, as States in the region have done by adopting codes for children or special child protection laws, and to create a National System for the Protection of Children’s Rights that contemplates the administrative institutional framework needed throughout the country to fulfill the obligations that the Chilean State entered into when it ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, both of which are still unresolved issues in the country.”

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 046/18