Delegations from U.N. member states recommended that Chile should stop discriminatory practices against the Mapuche and other indigenous peoples in the South American country, after the universal periodic review at the Human Rights Council meeting in Ginebra.
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The delegations showed concerns for the “discrimination and human rights violations against indigenous peoples” in key issues such as access to education and health.
This is the third review for Chile since the creation of the council in 2006, replacing the Human Rights Commission.
The Venezuelan delegation recommended that Chile recognize the rights of indigenous peoples in the constitution, while Australia suggested the government to review its “anti-terrorist” law to avoid its use against indigenous activism and their struggles for land.
The historical conflict in the Araucania has been characterized by tensions between Mapuche communities and authorities, and some of the delegations expressed their concerns about increasing violence and repression.
Other issues included in the recommendation are the situation of minors in detention centers and overpopulation in some prisons.
Lorena Recabarren, Chiles’s human rights deputy secretary, said that since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship thirty years ago the country has made important efforts to promote a culture of respect to fundamental liberties, but that she’s “conscious of pending challenges.”
In 2018, the Mapuche Campesino Camilo Catrillanca died after he was shot in the back by Chilean security forces while he was driving his tractor. The case sparked international outrage and nationwide massive protests demanding justice and an end to repression. Recabarren described the incident as a “tragic event.”
“The State expresses its regret and reaffirms its commitment to finding truth and justice,” she said, adding that the Public Ministry and security authorities are still investigating the death.
The deputy secretary said that Chile has achieved great successes regarding human rights in the last years, citing the approval of the gender identity law and the creation of the Women’s Ministry and the Childhood Prosecutor.
She also pointed out at the increase in the number of women at the National Congress after the gender quota law for parliamentary elections was approved, or the same-sex marriage recognition in 2015.
Chile “is conscious about the importance of continuing the investigation, sanctioning and repairment of great human rights violations that took place between 1973 and 1990,” during the Pinochet period, she said.
Chilean civil society groups also took part in the examination, raising concerns from a different perspective.
Mabel Cobos, from the Migrant Action Movement, demanded the government stop its discriminatory language and practices against immigrants and to develop instead an inclusive policy that aims for their wellbeing.
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She criticized the government’s decision to start asking Haitians and Venezuelans for visas, a process she described as slow and confusing, taking up to a year in which solicitors can’t legally work, as reported by Swiss Latin.
Also, she denounced massive deportations of Bolivian and Colombian citizens and a plan to send Haitians back to the Caribbean island, developing what the organization calls “racist and discriminatory practices.”
The government “blames migration for national problems, the lack of job opportunities, the collapse of public services,” says Cobos, “criminalizing by nationality, origin, language and skin color.”
Cobos talked extensively on the situation of immigrants in Chile, explaining that they contribute more economically than what is spent on them, that the education and public health systems are collapsing because they turn users into customers, that women with visas dependent on their husbands are vulnerable and that children can’t access universities because benefits are reserved for Chilean nationals.
Also, children born to foreigners with a transitory status are stripped from their birthright to nationality, failing to recognize the ius solis principle. As a result, children are born in Chile without a nationality, falling into complicated legal issues.
Cobos, along with other civil society delegates, was there as part of a “Coalition for the Strengthening of Human Rights in Chile,” which issued a report for the periodic review. The coalition is integrated by the migrant rights organizations, the Association of Municipalities with Mapuche Mayors (AMCAM), the NGO Lumbanga, the Mapuexpress Collective and the TICCA Committee.