IACHR

Press Release

IACHR expresses its concern about the acts of violence that occurred in the Indigenous Community of Temukuikui in Chile

November 21, 2018

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
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mrivero@oas.org

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern about the acts of violence that occurred on November 14, 2018, in the Indigenous Community of Temukuikui, in the Araucanía region of Chile. The IACHR urges the State of Chile to investigate these events in a serious, prompt, thorough, independent and impartial manner. Likewise, the Commission reiterates to the Chilean State that the behavior of the security forces must comply with the principles of necessity and proportionality and respect international human rights standards at all times.

According to information received by the IACHR, on November 14, 2018, a command of the Grupo de Operaciones Policiales Especiales (GOPE), a military police force of the Carabineros de Chile, carried out a police operation in the Mapuche indigenous community of Temukuikui, in the Araucanía region. According to information announced by the Ministry of the Interior, the police operation in the community began after three vehicles were reported stolen in the area. At the time of the police operation in the Temukuikui community, Camilo Catrillanca, a 24-year-old Mapuche community member, who was driving a tractor together with the teenager with initials M.C.P., was shot in the lower part of the head, in the back. Camilo Catrillanca was transferred to a health center in the town of Ercilla, where he died while receiving medical attention. Likewise, in the framework of the operation, the adolescent M.C.P. was arrested.

The IACHR observes that the day after the arrest of M.C.P., the Court of Letters and Guarantees of Collipulli decreed the illegality of his arrest, ordering his immediate release. The Commission expresses its concern at the information received indicating that the adolescent M.C.P. had been severely beaten during his detention and notes that the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) and the Office of the Children's Ombudsman announced that they would file a criminal complaint for the crime of torture against those responsible for these acts and filed an appeal for protection so that the police forces would not approach him.

The IACHR notes that on November 18 it was announced that one of the members of the special operations group that participated in the raid in the community initially indicated that there were no recordings of such raid. However, it was later verified that there were, in fact, recordings of the raid and that this evidence was destroyed by the police. The Government of Chile announced the immediate dismissal of four police officers involved in the raid and the resignation of the Chief of Order and Security of Araucanía and the prefect of the Special Forces of Araucanía.

The IACHR notes that Camilo Catrillanca was a student leader and participant in acts of land recovery in Araucanía. In this regard, the Commission notes that for the indigenous peoples, the loss of a leader like Camilo Catrillanca, who was also a werkén (spokesperson for his community), has not only an individual but also a collective effect, since it directly affects the exercise of the other rights of the members of the community, leaving them in a state of greater vulnerability, even going as far as defenselessness.

“The Chilean State has the obligation to investigate these regrettable facts in a serious, prompt, exhaustive, independent and impartial manner” said Commissioner Luís Ernesto Vargas, Country Rapporteur. “In addition to establishing the truth of what happened, this investigation must establish responsibility and punish the alleged perpetrators”, he added. The IACHR underscores the importance of these investigations guaranteeing access to justice for M.C.P. and the relatives of Camilo Catrillanca, providing them with pertinent information and guaranteeing their right to be heard and to participate in all stages of the process and that the State ensures guarantees of non-repetition.

The Commission also reiterates the urgency of ensuring that the paradigm shift in citizen security ensures that security focuses on the protection of individuals and their rights. This implies promoting a strengthening of the functions of prevention and reduction of violence. “It is imperative that security policies in Araucanía respond to the security needs of all people and that they are in line with the law and human rights standards” said Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay, President of the IACHR.

In addition, the Commission reiterates that the conduct of security forces must at all times respect international human rights standards and comply with the principles of necessity and proportionality. Finally, the Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, Rapporteur on the Rights of Children, urged the Chilean State to “adopt special protection measures for children and adolescents in all police actions, especially those in situations of special vulnerability”.

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. 249/18