Justice Too Little Too Late for Thousands
By Codepu Valdivia
Approximately 15,000 in Santiago and 200 just in the Province
of Valdivia are the total cases the National Commission on
Political Imprisonment and Torture has received since embarking
on its mission in early December 2003. The process has been
slow and ineffective, considering the immense volume of persons
who were imprisoned during the dictatorship and subjected
to torture is unlikely to be confirmed with reasonable certainty.
With the information gathering stage of the Commission slated
to conclude May 11, the time factor favors impunity. So do
the limited publicity and resources to reach provinces beyond
Santiago, such as rural and mountainous areas of the country.
Headed by Msgr. Sergio Valech, the Commission was created
as the direct result of the fight against impunity waged by
former political prisoners, and the broad-based Ethics Committee
against Torture in particular, to win recognition of their
suffering as human rights violations. However, thousands of
surviving victims of the dictatorship including peasants,
laborers, professionals and party members have had little
access to information and none to the publicity sent via Internet.
A Few Suggestions
1. The Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture was
created by the government to gather information about persons
who were political prisoners or victims of torture between
September 1973 and March 1990.
2. The Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture is
a government commission. Its members and staff have been appointed
by the government. Neither human rights organizations nor
political parties participate as members.
3. All persons who were political prisoners and suffered any
kind of torture during the military dictatorship may present
their cases to the Commission.
Outside the Santiago Metropolitan Region, the process is conducted
by the Provincial Governments, which have designated offices
with staff to attend, inform, fill out and receive registration
forms. Chilean embassies and consulates have this mission
The specific reparation measures the Commission will carry
out have not yet been defined. The reparations will be determined
once the initial registration stage is completed. No one can
tell you what those reparations will be or if they will be
social, financial, or symbolic. But you can participate in
the discussions about this issue through your organization.
Only official Commission members verify and confirm cases.
No person or agency can verify or confirm a case a priori.
If the Commission does not attend you well, let your organization
know. The first reparation you deserve is good treatment.
Recommendations for filling out the Registration Form
1. You may pick up the form at the Provincial Government office
near you. You may also download it from the Commission's web
2. You can ask the government staff person to help you fill
out the form. You can also fill it out on your own or with
help from someone or an organization who is familiar with
3. The form and the registration with the Commission is free
of charge. If someone charges you, report it!
4. In the case of political prisoners and/or victims of torture
who are deceased, a direct family member such as parents,
siblings, spouse, or children may fill the registration form.
The first identification page is filled out only once. The
following pages are filled out with one for each situation
of detention or episode of torture. It is advisable to photocopy
the sheets to fill in the information if the victim was arrested
more than two times. Do not turn in original documents. Photocopy
any papers you think will be useful for the Commission.
If the victim has information about the arrest or torture
(legal documents, medical reports, social worker evaluations,
press material) or a file with a national or international
human rights agency of the government, the courts or of any
other kind, make a note of it on the registration form. The
Commission will ask for those files. Turn in the registration
form along with a photocopy of your Identification Card. Be
sure to ask for a receipt.
ends May 11!
more information refer to the following web pages:
to Human Rights Today