On Wednesday and Thursday (May 29-30, 2013), the Inter-American Court of Human Rights — a body of the Organization of American States — heard its first case against the Chilean state. The case actually involved three separate, but similar matters involving Mapuche individuals who had been subjected to Chile’s so-called Antiterrorism Law. The Antiterrorism Law has come under much criticism both internationally and from within Chile, and in this instance, the Mapuche individuals were presenting their testimony on how its application violated their human rights and were asking for its repeal.
The case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights actually is the combination of three separate Chilean matters. Each matter involved a Mapuche individual or individuals who were considered “terrorists” for purposes of the Antiterrorism Law, which ultimately led to alleged violations of human rights. The Antiterrorism Law, when applied, the Antiterrorism Law allows for certain due process rights to be suspended by the Chilean government. Specifically, it allows for indefinite detentions prior to trial and the use of secret witnesses during trials, among other things. Sentences under the Antiterrorism Law are also substantially more severe than for similar crimes not tried under the Law.
Over the course of the two days, the Inter-American Court listened to the testimony of one representative from each of the three matters, as well as several expert witnesses, and also heard testimony from the Chilean state. The Chilean government’s primary response to the demands that the Antiterrorism Law be repealed was to point out that the Law was modified in 2010 and now, according to the government, it comports with international norms.
For more coverage in English, take a look at:
- Santiago Times: International court to rule on indigenous rights abuses in Chile
- IndigenousNews.org: Mapuche Case to Go Before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights