Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Steps Taken in Chile to Implement National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture

May 7, 2019

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the steps taken by the State of Chile to implement the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The IACHR calls on the State to keep taking any measures necessary to complete this implementation process, which include changing the rules concerning the Mechanism’s operations and decision-making processes and the appointment of its members, who must be independent experts.

As is widely known, Act 21,154—designating the National Institute for Human Rights as the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture—was published on April 25, 2019. Based on that Act, the Institute is charged with conducting periodic assessments of the conditions of detention of persons deprived of their liberty, carrying out periodic and unscheduled visits to incarceration facilities, filing requests for information to fulfil its mandate, issuing recommendations for the relevant authorities, and proposing regulations concerning torture and ill-treatment. The IACHR notes that this National Preventive Mechanism will need to meet with persons deprived of their liberty in settings that protect the confidentiality of their statements, with no supervision from detention-facility staff and, if necessary, in the presence of an interpreter or intercultural facilitator.

The IACHR stresses that centers for deprivation of liberty must be subjected to constant independent monitoring and auditing. The way persons deprived of their liberty are treated must be subjected to the closest scrutiny, considering the special risks they face in the context of their deprivation of liberty. In particular, the Commission has stressed that the monitoring mechanisms created by the United Nations’ Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture—that Chile ratified on December 12, 2008—are especially important to protect the fundamental rights of persons deprived of their liberty, particularly their right to physical and psychological integrity, and to ensure compliance with Chile’s international human rights obligations.

“Besides raising awareness about the conditions in which persons in State custody are held, the mandate of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture will enable the prevention of torture and other ill-treatment,” said the IACHR’s President, Commissioner Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño.

“The measures taken by the Chilean State to launch a mechanism that conducts independent visits and monitoring efforts concerning detention centers entails crucial progress to protect the rights of persons held in penitentiaries and other facilities for deprivation of liberty, including psychiatric institutions and shelters,” said Commissioner Joel Hernández, Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty and for the Prevention of and Fight Against Torture.

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. 111/19