October 6, 2014 – Amnesty International today commended Chile for attempting to amend Amnesty Decree Law, passed in 1978 that exempts all individuals who committed human rights violations between 11 September 1973 and 10 March 1978 from criminal responsibility.
Deputy Director Americas Programme, Amnesty International, Mr. Guadalupe Marengo said the amendment will make justice available to victims of crimes committed during late Pinochet’s brutal regime.
“For many years this law acted as a shield, hiding those responsible for serious human rights abuses from justice. Victims have been forced to live knowing those that tortured and killed were enjoying impunity for their crimes,” said Marengo.
“The overturning of the law would be an historic moment for Chile and would bring the country one step closer to addressing the crimes of the Pinochet regime, as well as sending a clear message that Chile does not protect those responsible for human rights violations, ” he said.
Amnesty said more than 3,000 people either disappeared or were extra-judicially killed in Chile between 1973 and 1990, according to official figures.
“Just under 40,000 people became survivors of political imprisonment and/ or torture. In recent years some judicial decisions have circumvented the application of the law. However, the continued existence of the legislation is incompatible with Chile’s international human rights obligations and represents an affront to the thousands of victims of Pinochet’s regime and their relatives”, Amnesty said.
According to the organisation, plans to overturn the law were announced on the 41st anniversary of the military coup that installed General Augusto Pinochet into power adding that the bill to overturn the legislation is currently before parliament.
“This law has been a deplorable legacy of the military regime. Its existence is a source of enduring pain for the country. By declaring the Amnesty Decree Law null and void Chile will have the opportunity to redress the victims and their families”, said Guadalupe Marengo.
“Nearly 25 years after the end of the military regime Chile is finally moving towards righting the wrongs of the past; this is an opportunity that cannot be missed.”