On Wednesday, November 30th, a complaint was filed against the Chilean government with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights — a structure of the Organization of American States (OAS). The petition was brought by four Mapuche prisoners who have alleged human rights violations in the way they their trial was handled, and seeks to have the international body inform Chile that the country’s Antiterrorism Law needs to be reformed to adhere to human rights law. The Commission is expected to rule on the admissibility of the petition and whether they will take the case sometime this week.
The filing of the complaint against the Chilean government stems from a lengthy trial process carried out against four Mapuche men – Héctor Llaitul, Ramón Llanquileo, José Huenuche and Jonathan Huillical — who were originally accused of crimes under Chile’s Antiterrorism Law stemming from events that took place in 2008. Because the Antiterrorism Law was applied, the four men were subject to the testimony of “anonymous witnesses,” or individuals whose identities were never revealed to the defendants. The applicability of this law also meant that the four men could be detained indefinitely regardless of whether they had been charged or not.
After several trials and appeals, in June of 2011, the Chilean Supreme Court upheld the verdict that none of the charges under the Antiterrorism Law had sufficient evidence to warrant conviction. However, other charges — which were tried during the same proceeding with the anonymous witnesses — were upheld. The Mapuche individuals argued that a new trial was warranted since it is possible that evidence from the anonymous witnesses was used to convict, but the Supreme Court rejected this argument.
Given no other options of appeal within Chile — with the exception of a decision from the President to pardon the men — the four prisoners decided to file a petition at the international level. If the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights agrees to take the case, then the Chilean government will be given time to respond before recommendations are issues on the topic.