Chilean security forces committed human rights violations against protesters over the last two months, United Nations investigators said on Friday.
The UN human rights agency found that deaths, torture, sexual abuse and the use of excessive force were the results of authorities reacting in a “fundamentally repressive manner.”
The report was released by the UN Human Rights Office, which is headed by former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, a political opponent of current President Sebastian Pinera.
The high commissioner urged the government to allow its citizens to peacefully demonstrate without being physically hurt.
“There are reasonable grounds to believe that … a high number of serious human rights violations have been committed,” the report concluded. “The majority of those who have exercised the right to assembly during this period, have done so in a peaceful manner.”
Investigators mentioned the plight of the roughly 350 people left with eye or facial injuries caused by security forces firing shotguns at close proximity to demonstrators. Human rights officials said this proves that “less-lethal weapons” had been used “improperly and indiscriminately,” contrary to international principles on minimizing the risk of harm.
Last month Human Rights Watch said it had received “hundreds” of reports of abuse and demanded reforms of Chile’s national police force.
Anti-government protests began in Chile on October 18 when a student-led demonstration over an increase in subway fares turned into a much larger and broader movement with a long list of demands that largely have to do with the wide gap between the rich and ordinary Chileans.
Citizens called for reforms to health care, education, the pension system and even the constitution, which dates back to 1980 and the military dictatorship.
jsi/sms (AP, AFP)
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