Annual Report: Chile 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Chile 2010

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Head of state and government Michelle Bachelet
Death penalty abolitionist for ordinary crimes
Population 17 million
Life expectancy 78.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 10/8 per 1,000
Adult literacy 96.5 per cent

Further progress was made in bringing perpetrators of past human rights violations to justice. Indigenous Peoples continued to voice their land claims and demand respect for other rights amid rising tensions in the south. Obstacles to the enjoyment of sexual and reproductive rights continued to exist.


In November, the Senate approved a bill to create a National Human Rights Institution that would adhere to international standards and would be empowered to initiate legal proceedings in cases of certain human rights violations.

Chile's human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in May. Chile accepted all the recommendations made except those that would have brought the country's abortion laws into line with international human rights standards.

Indigenous Peoples' rights

The government announced plans to return 33,000 hectares of land to Indigenous communities in the southern IX Region. However, a decree passed in September (Decree 124) regarding procedures for consultation with and participation by Indigenous Peoples in decisions on matters directly affecting them fell far short of international standards. Efforts to incorporate recognition of Indigenous Peoples' rights into the Constitution and to introduce new legislation on land and water resources that would have a considerable impact on them were carried out without due consultation.

Large-scale development projects continued to put the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples at risk.

  • In May, construction began on the Pascua-Lama mining project in northern Chile on the border with Argentina, despite objections from local Indigenous Diaguita Huascoaltino communities that their consent had not been given. Mapuche Indigenous communities continued to campaign in support of their land claims and other rights. Some Mapuche groups and their supporters organized occupations and there were a number of violent clashes with the security forces. The Arauco- Malleco Co-ordinating Committee, whose aim is the creation of an autonomous Mapuche nation, claimed responsibility for a number of protest actions. In response, anti-terrorist and national security legislation dating from the military government of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990) was applied in several cases, in breach of previous government undertakings not to do so and contrary to the recommendations of international human rights bodies.
  • On 12 August, Jaime Facundo Mendoza Collío, a 24-year-old Mapuche, died after being shot by police. He was among approximately 80 people who had occupied a farm in the community of Ercilla, Araucania region, as part of their campaign for the return of land they claim. During the police operation to evict the protesters at least eight people were injured. Forensic reports stated that Jaime Facundo Mendoza Collío was shot from behind.
  • In October, the government denied allegations that several children were injured by pellets allegedly fired by security forces outside a community meeting in a school in Temucuicui on 16 October.

Sexual and reproductive rights

Abortion remained criminalized. Obstacles to accessing emergency contraception continued. In March the Comptroller General published a decision prohibiting municipal health clinics from distributing free emergency contraception, thereby disadvantaging women who could not afford to obtain it privately.