A wave of strikes and demonstrations erupted during 2007. The protests expressed widespread anger over economic inequality and debate over the need for a minimum wage intensified. In Santiago, where thousands took to the streets, there were violent clashes and a number of demonstrators and police officers were injured. Hundreds of protesters were detained for short periods.
Impunity – justice for past violations
A number of military officials and former secret service agents were found guilty of involvement in abductions, torture and killings during the military government of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).
- In October, Manuel Contreras, former head of the secret service, and three former agents were sentenced to between 10 and 15 years in prison for the abduction in 1974 of Jorge D’Orival Briceño of the Revolutionary Left Movement (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria) who was later killed because of his political affiliation.
- However, in November the Supreme Court acquitted retired colonel Claudio Lecaros of the enforced disappearance in 1973 of Vidal Riquelme, Cesario Soto, both peasant leaders, and Rubén Acevedo, a businessman, on the grounds that the statute of limitations on these crimes had expired. The Court had previously ruled that crimes against humanity and war crimes were not subject to the statute of limitations, in accordance with customary international law.
- In September, former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was extradited to Peru to answer charges of corruption and human rights violations.
Discrimination – Indigenous rights
In March the UN Committee on Human Rights expressed concern about the use of anti-terrorism legislation against members of the Mapuche community who had taken part in activities in support of Indigenous land rights.
In February the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at the high levels of poverty faced by Indigenous children and the discrimination they experience in accessing education and health services. The Committee made several recommendations including the incorporation of Indigenous rights into the Constitution and the ratification of ILO Convention No.169.
- On 15 September police raided the Temucuicui community, IX Region, and confiscated some livestock. When villagers asked for an explanation, police officers allegedly racially abused them. Reportedly the police were searching for stolen animals. The police later returned the animals but re-entered the community firing their weapons and injuring at least one person.
- On 18 June, three children from the Mapuche community of Ranquilco were interrogated at school by members of the Section of Police Investigation about land occupations. A petition for a protection order for the three children stated that the questioning was “causing real terror for the children and for many parents, who fear reprisals against their children.”
Violence against women
Chilean NGOs recorded at least 60 killings of women during 2007. Weaknesses in the legislation, bureaucratic procedures and inadequate policing continued to make prosecutions for domestic and sexual violence against women difficult.
A new law proposed by President Bachelet which would incorporate the killing of women (femicide) as a specific crime in the Chilean Criminal Code was debated in Parliament.