IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the signing of a friendly settlement agreement in Case 12,956, F.S., between the State of Chile and petitioning organizations Centro de Derechos Reproductivos and Vivo Positivo.
On February 3, 2009, the IACHR received a petition alleging the international responsibility of the Chilean State for the sterilization of a woman who was a carrier of HIV, without her informed consent, on November 5, 2002. This sterilization was allegedly conducted at a state-run hospital in the city of Curicó, through a tubal ligation performed during the C-section that delivered her child (a boy who was not infected with HIV during the operation).
The petitioning organizations noted that the victim had not been informed of the sterilization procedure and had therefore not consented to it, and that she had also not been provided with information on surgical sterilization, its risks and advantages, or on the available alternatives, even though Exempt Resolution 2326 is in force in Chile and states that sterilization must be authorized in writing and obtain the patient's informed consent. The petitioners further alleged that the events that led them to file this petition happened in a context of discrimination and abuse against individuals living with HIV.
On December 6, 2017, a friendly settlement process was willingly launched by the parties. The Commission provided support in the form of technical assistance and the facilitation of platforms for dialogue, in working meetings with the parties where standardized methods and objective criteria were applied to encourage the design of this friendly settlement agreement. These actions led to the signing of a friendly settlement agreement on August 3, 2021, in Santiago.
The signing was attended by Chile's Assistant Secretary of Foreign Relations Carolina Valdivia Torres; Assistant Secretary of Human Rights Lorena Recabarren; and Ambassador Jaime Andrés Chomali Garib, head of Human Rights. The event was also attended by Catalina Martínez and Carmen Cecilia Martínez, lawyers for Centro de Derechos Reproductivos, and Sara Araya, executive director of Vivo Positivo, who were all representing the petitioning party and the victim, identified as F.S. F.S. was also in attendance.
Commissioner Joel Hernández, IACHR Rapporteur for Chile, stood by the parties during this important event. "It is the work and commitment of the parties in a friendly settlement process that enables the redress component of this iconic agreement to crystallize, through an acknowledgement of the facts. These events are at the core of acceptance and become the starting point for reconciliation following the harm that was caused," Commissioner Hernández said.
This friendly settlement agreement integrated an intersectional perspective, a gender perspective, and a human rights perspective into the design of each of the actions that were agreed by the parties. The agreement includes several high-impact reparation measures, including redress measures (a public event where the State acknowledges its responsibility, a private meeting to apologize attended by Chile's first lady, the dissemination of the agreement, a request for proceedings to be launched to investigate breaches of professional ethics and to issue recommendations to improve the relevant medical proceedings); measures for medical, psychological, and social rehabilitation (housing subsidy, study grants, comprehensive healthcare); financial compensation; and guarantees of non-recurrence (by disseminating among healthcare system staff guidelines on male and female sterilization, an awareness-raising campaign to ensure care and non-discrimination for individuals living with HIV, the dissemination of a bill on the right of women to a life that is free from violence, and training sessions focused on sexual and reproductive rights with a gender perspective).
The Commission commends the Chilean State and the petitioning party for their good disposition and constant, cooperative dialogue during negotiations to design an agreement that enables F.S. and her family to obtain comprehensive redress. At the same time, the IACHR asks the State to continue to work toward fulfilling its international obligations based on this agreement until full compliance is attained. The Commission stresses its commitment to monitoring and supporting this friendly settlement process.
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.