Chile’s National Human Rights Institute Releases Annual Reports, Criticizes Chile on Indigenous Rights

On Thursday, December 15th, Chile’s Instituto Nacional de Derechos Humanos (National Human Rights Institute) or INDH, released its second annual report on the situation of human rights within Chile. INDH was created by the Chilean government in 2009, but is a fully-autonomous governmental unit. This year’s report was very critical of the Chilean government’s handling of human rights in a number of areas, including how it has handled them with respect to indigenous peoples. Specifically, the report dedicated an entire chapter to indigenous rights within Chileand below is a summary of the topics covered.

The 2011 report is the second annual human rights report produced by INDH. Under Chilean law, it is required to produce a report annually and submit that report to the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government. This year, in addition to the report itself, INDH conducted a national survey on human rights to gauge public opinion on a variety of issues.  The entirety of that survey can be found here, but some of the more interesting pieces of data from the survey concerning indigenous peoples include:

  • Only 20.78% of Chileans said that they considered indigenous rights related to identity, language and territory to be human rights.
  • Over 56% of Chileans thought that the government should set aside seats in the legislature in order that indigenous peoples could better be represented.
  • Despite not associating indigenous rights with human rights, 72.72% of Chileans stated that they thought it was legitimate for indigenous peoples to reclaim their ancestral lands.

As for the report itself, the chapter on human rights and indigenous issues focuses on four thematic ares:

  1. Indigenous consultation;
  2. Lands and natural resources;
  3. The situation of the Rapa Nui people; and
  4. Violations of funamental rights of indigenous children and adolescents.

In terms of indigenous consultation, the report first recounts the legal framework in place — namely ILO Convention 169 — that requires the Chilean government to consult with indigenous peoples on issues that affect them. INDH then discusses the government’s failures to take into account the principles of international law with respect to consultation — this analysis is done by looking at each branch independently and their efforts to consult. A significant amount of time is spent recapping the cases that have come before the Chilean court system and how the majority of those cases seem to fail in accurately applying the indigenous right to consultation to the case at hand.

The second section of the human rights report discusses indigenous lands and natural resources. After again laying out the legal framework for indigenous land rights inChile, INDH emphasizes the need for the Chilean government to pass new legislation that will create a system to provide indigenous peoples with a meaningful way of re-acquiring their ancestral lands and, additionally, will give indigenous peoples the ability to obtain restitution for ancestral lands that are currently in the hands of other parties.

Third, INDH discusses the situation of the Rapa Nui during 2010. Specifically, the report discusses the conflicts that took place on Easter Island (where the Rapa Nui people are located) early in the year related to land. They ultimately conclude that ILO 169 and theUnited Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples requires the Chilean government to “effectively guarantee the rights of the Rapa Nui people, ensure a special statute that permits the Rapa Nui to exercise their rights of participation and political autonomy over the Island, and recover their lands and territories” in accordance with international human rights standards.

Finally, the report discusses two issues related to indigenous children and juveniles.  It begins by citing specific examples of how the Mapuche conflict within Chile has had a negative impact on indigenous children. In doing so, INDH asserts that the Chilean government has a duty to determine who is responsible for the various conflicts and to take measures to prevent such acts in the future. Next, the document discusses intercultural education and how the Chilean government needs to work more extensively to ensure that intercultural education reaches all areas of the country and that the offerings are also expanded.

The full report (in Spanish) can be downloaded here.

See the articles linked in this story and additional Indigenous headlines by clicking here (updated daily).

Posted in: Chile, Mapuche, Rapa Nui
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