Press Release

IACHR Hails Decision of Chilean Supreme Court

April 12, 2017

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) applauds the decision of Chile’s Supreme Court condemning 33 former agents of the State for the aggravated kidnapping of five members of the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front in 1987. This ruling represents a significant step forward in combating impunity for gross human rights violations of the past.

According to Chile’s judiciary, in September 1987 Julián Peña Maltés, Alejandro Pinochet Arenas, Manuel Sepúlveda Sánchez, Gonzalo Fuenzalida Navarrete, and Julio Muñoz Otárola were detained without a warrant by agents of the State, in retaliation for the kidnapping of Army Colonel Carlos Carreño on September 1, 1987. The five detainees were forcibly disappeared in a joint operation carried out by the CNI, the Army Intelligence Battalion (BIE), and the Army Air Command, and their bodies were dropped into the ocean off the coast of Quintay.

In the resolution issued on March 22, 2017, the Supreme Court sentenced agents Álvaro Corbalán Castilla and Hugo Salas Wenzel to 15-year prison terms, as the masterminds of the aggravated kidnappings. The other agents were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 3 to 10 years. With regard to the civil side of the case, the demands for compensation filed against the State of Chile were confirmed.

The IACHR hails this decision as a significant step forward in the fulfillment of the international obligations the State of Chile assumed as a Member State of the Organization of American States (OAS) and a State Party to the American Convention on Human Rights. Under these obligations, States must investigate, prosecute, and punish those responsible for serious human rights violations.

“This decision marks a step toward justice for serious crimes of the past, and it is also a decision that has a positive impact on the future of Chile and of the region,” said Commissioner Paulo Vannuchi, IACHR Rapporteur for Chile. “We know that when gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity perpetrated during dictatorships or authoritarian governments of the past go unpunished, we run the risk that they will be repeated. This step forward for justice is an act of reparation for the victims, and is also a form of preventing these types of horrific crimes from happening again,” he added. “With this decision, the Supreme Court of Chile not only is complying with inter-American standards in this area, but it is also helping to build a better future.”

The IACHR applauds this step toward truth, justice, and reparation, and invites the State of Chile to continue its efforts to investigate the serious crimes perpetrated during the military regime, identify those responsible for them, administer punishment, and determine fair reparations.

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 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. 045/17