Fabiola Letelier del Solar
Julia Urquieta Olivare
Santiago, April 18, 2004
As human rights attorneys in Chile, we express concern for
the legislative proposal to create incentives for information
gathering related to disappeared persons or executed political
prisoners whose remains have not been located, known as the
Insulza Bill. We state as follows:
1) In Chile, under the military dictatorship of Pinochet,
from 1973-1990, horrendous crimes against humanity were committed,
including approximately 2100 summary executions, more than
1100 forced disappearances and more than 100,000 persons were
tortured, according to official reports, in addition to an
estimated 100,000 exiles and persons dismissed from their
jobs for political reasons.
2) Such massive and systematic atrocities comprised a political
and social genocide. During the Pinochet trial, the high court
of Spain described it as the cruelest and most massive in
all Chilean history. At the Pinochet extradition hearings,
the British Law Lords called them horrendous crimes against
humanity. During the span of 16 years (1974 to 1989), the
majority of the United Nations General Assembly consistently
condemned the human rights crimes committed in Chile.
3) The four different versions of Insulza Bill drafted in
the past four months has recommended judicial exemptions,
sentence commutations and sentences lowered to three sentencing
levels for all authors, accomplices and those who covered-up
the crimes, with the exception of the perpetrators who induced
the others to commit the crimes, under article 15 N2 of the
Code of Criminal Procedure, (which excluded the Army intelligence
Ramses Alvarez from culpability in the murder of Tucapel Jimenez).
By way of explanation, Minister Insulza stated that "agents
of the State who have been convicted only number twenty-six"
and "We want more justice" (El Mercurio, 4-11-2004-D 11).
4) Days later (4-14-2004-A3), El Mercurio added that "the
incentives for those who provided information helped solve
the crime involving the assassination of Orlando Letelier
in the United States."
5) As human rights lawyers for many victims, we demand truth.
Ten times more convictions could have been issued were it
not for the military systematic obstruction of justice in
the Carlos Prats, Operation Condor, Eugenio Berrios, and many
other cases. Likewise, many other military would be sentenced
were it not for the application of the Amnesty Law in over
a hundred cases between 1977 to 1997.
6) The advance of justice needs the loyal, democratic cooperation
of the military, not pressure for impunity in human rights
crimes. Cheyre and the military establishment have pressured
for pardons (April 2002), amnesty and application of statutes
of limitation (September 2002), an end to the ongoing crime
of abduction as legal grounds (July 2003) and now they are
pressuring for the rapid passage of the Insulza Bill that
is an implicit proposal for incentives to impunity.
7) We consider this bill to be absolutely unconstitutional
for the following reasons: a) It interferes in more than 300
cases involving 1300 victims currently in progress in the
courts; b) It leaves victims defenseless by granting privileges
to the perpetrators (secret witnesses, immediate parole, tremendous
sentence reductions, self amnesty, statutes of limitation,
pardons and the half-prescription, by failing to expressly
invoke international human rights and humanitarian law, that
state that crimes against humanity are not subject to amnesties,
pardons or statutes of limitation.). In other words, it also
infringes upon guarantees of equality under the law, and due
8) Perhaps the most perverse aspect of the bill is that it
undermines the concept of legal cooperation and state witness,
judicial mechanisms utilized to disable terrorist and narco
traffic organizations by rewarding informants with a moderate
reduction in sentence. These devices are intended to identify
the perpetrators, accomplices and persons who cover up crimes
not for academic purposed but to punish them. What would happen
if paid informants were used to identify criminals, such as
terrorists or narco traffickers not in order to punish them
but to ensure them impunity through an amnesty, statute of
limitation, pardon or half-prescription in addition to lowered
sentences and parole? Evidently, it suggests a mockery of
law that would taint the entire judicial system.
9) United States did not accept Townley as state witness before
demanding that the Letelier-Moffit Case be excluded from the
Decree Amnesty Law, to permit the perpetrators to be brought
to trial. The application of a self amnesty in that case to
grant amnesty to Contreras and Espinoza would have been viewed
as a slight against the American people. Chileans have just
as much right to a secure life as Americans.
10) The Insulza Bill also calls for secret witnesses or other
means of proof to determine the place and date of the disappearance
or murder of the victims. The purpose of this measure is not
to punish the perpetrators. Rather, it aims to establish the
date of death to allow for the invocation of amnesty (from
Sept. 11, 1973 to March 10, 1990), and thus overcome the "legal
fiction" of continuous abduction.
11) The Insulza Bill does not guarantee the thousands of victims
indicated in its first article that amnesty, statutes of limitation
or pardons will not be applied. Nor does the bill acknowledge
obligations under international human rights treaties or humanitarian
law that apply to crimes of genocide committed in Chile.
The Insulza Bill is a concession of impunity for the military
class responsible for crimes against humanity in Chile. It
thereby incites human rights crimes in the future, is an offense
against the Chilean people, and constitutes contempt of principles
of international human rights and humanitarian law. For all
these reasons, we call for the immediate withdrawal from Congress
of the Insulza Bill.
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