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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

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In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                            

Republic of Chile

The government has developed effective mechanisms to investigate and punish police abuses and corruption. However, excessive force and human rights abuses committed by the carabineros still occur.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2018]


Description: Description: Chile

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Chile.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Chile

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 7 July 2021]


Although the constitution and law prohibit such practices, there were reports of excessive force, abuse, and degrading treatment by law enforcement officers. Since widespread protests and civil unrest that began in 2019 and continued into January and February, the INDH filed nearly 2,500 criminal accusations that law enforcement officials committed acts of torture or cruel treatment during detention of protesters or criminal arrests, including accusations of sexual abuse or assault. In July the National Prosecutor’s Office announced it had received more than 8,800 allegations of abuse by security forces between October 18, 2019, and March 31. Of these, more than 1,000 allegations were for abuse of minors and nearly 400 for sexual violence. As of October the National Prosecutor’s Office reported that 4,681 investigations remained open and that it had formally charged 75 members of security forces and had requested hearings to charge 22 more. Of those charged, one case had resulted in a conviction by October.


According to the INDH and other observers, conditions in some prisons were poor, due to antiquated infrastructure, overcrowding, substandard sanitary infrastructure, and inadequate water supplies. Human rights organizations reported that violence, including torture, occurred, as well as an entrenched practice of unsanctioned punishment.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 11 May 2020]


The government has developed effective mechanisms to investigate and punish police abuses and corruption. However, excessive force and human rights abuses committed by the carabineros still occur.

Chile: Police Investigate 'Torture' Of Two Ecuadorean Prisoners

teleshur, 26 June 2018

[accessed 26 June 2018]

A viral video showing two Ecuadoreans being tortured in a Chilean prison has drawn national attention and garnered harsh criticism from state authorities on Thursday.

Police at a Santiago jail were recorded torturing two Ecuadorean men, Christian R. and Jonathan C., charged with the murder of Margarita Ancacoy, a cleaning lady at the University of Chile.

The Ecuadoreans were beaten, tortured with electroshock instruments and forced to apologize to their victim's family. Together with two 20-year-olds, Diego T. and Olguer O., the men attempted to rob Ancacoy while she was leaving work and beat the woman to death.

Justice Minister Hernan Larrain wrote on his Twitter account: "What happened to the two Ecuadoreans in the penitentiary, accused of murdering a woman, is unacceptable; justice is applied by judges and torture is an atrocious practice."

How I survived Chile's torture commune run by Pinochet's paedophile Nazi pal

Emma Pietras, The Daily Mirror, 5 Jul 2016

[accessed 21 August 2016]

Blindfolded and strapped to a bed in an underground tunnel, the prisoner braces himself, knowing there will be no escape from the agonising electric shocks about to be inflicted.

This harrowing torture scene features in Emma Watson’s new film The Colony. But what makes it even more disturbing is that it is no work of Hollywood fiction.

Erick Zott Chuecas lived through the ordeal when he was kidnapped in the ­aftermath of Chile’s 1973 military coup.

While Erick suffered many different types of torture , electricity was used most often.  He says: “They put it all over my body, in my head, in my mouth. I’m not able to say how many times they did it exactly, but they did it a lot of the time – it was the way it was.

“Whatever opportunity they had, they would use this form of torture.

“It was terrible. As a human being we have natural defences, but each time it happened my body would completely break down, it would go into shock. But in these moments the biggest motivation was to keep on living.”

An estimated 45,000 people were rounded up, interrogated and tortured in Chile.

Torture in Chile

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (irct)

Developed in collaboration with the Centre for Mental Health and Human Rights (CINTRAS), August 2014

[accessed 23 June 2015]

The general situation of torture and rehabilitation in Chile is characterised by poor public policies on matters of prevention, access to justice, the right to full reparation and guarantees of non-repetition.  Impunity for past and current violations persists and those seeking access to the truth are silenced.  Social protest is criminalised.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


PRISON CONDITIONS - Many of Chile’s prisons are grossly overcrowded and conditions remain poor despite government reform efforts. A study of 44 prisons published in March 2014 by the INDH reported beatings by prison guards, and high levels of inmate violence in some prisons that resulted in 35 deaths from January to October 2012.  Prisoners are often arbitrarily confined in punishment cells without adequate light, ventilation, basic access to water, sanitation, and hygiene, or medical attention. On her retirement in 2014, a Supreme Court official responsible for monitoring prison conditions described this practice as “flagrant cruel and inhuman treatment.”

TORTURE - Cases of torture continue to be reported and impunity is common. Between 2011 and August 2014, the INDH filed 33 complaints of torture with the courts—16 for acts allegedly committed by Carabineros, 10 by prison guards, and 7 by the Investigations Police (PDI).

Amnesty International: ‘Torture in Chile not a thing of the past’

Paul Carlsen, The Santiago Times, Jun 26th, 2014

[accessed 21 August 2]

“Torture in Chile is not a thing of the past, it is a current topic and it is necessary to take action today,” Ana Piquer, executive director of Amnesty International Chile told The Santiago Times

According to the 2013 annual report by the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH), torture remains a problem in Chile, something compounded by what the organization describes as, “normative deficiencies and which allow the use of practices considered as torture.”

The INDH notes that certain acts considered torture are not defined as such in Chilean law. Two offences do, however, cover the internationally accepted definition of torture — unnecessary violence and unwarrented arrest — but national law also dictates that any charges of these counts brought against police be heard at a military tribunal. This, the INDH report suggests, violates the right to due process and an impartial judge.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/CHL/CO/5 (2009)

[accessed 24 February 2013]

Allegations of torture

13. The Committee is concerned about continuing allegations that serious crimes have been committed by on-duty police officers and regrets that efforts to publicize such acts are subject to legal restrictions, which are a contributing factor to the failure to punish such crimes (arts. 2 and 12).

The Committee recommends that the State party introduce legislative reforms relating to supervision of the police force as soon as possible with a view to ensuring that no action on the part of the police force that is contrary to the Convention goes unpunished and that the investigations of such acts are effective and transparent. The State party should reinforce educational programmes in order to ensure that all law enforcement personnel are fully aware of the provisions of the Convention.

The Committee also recommends that the State party continue to expedite the measures required for the creation of the Ministry of Public Security, which would oversee the Carabineros and the Investigative Police Force.


19. The Committee is concerned at the continuing impunity of those who perpetrated the crime of torture under the dictatorship and at the fact that suitable measures have not been taken to prosecute and sentence them (arts. 2 and 12).

The State party should take the necessary steps to investigate, prosecute and impose appropriate punishments on those who have committed human rights violations, including torture. The Committee urges the State party to provide the courts with all relevant information at its disposal in order to help them administer justice. The Committee also urges the State party to repeal the provision contained in Act No. 19.992 under which information on the practice of torture during the dictatorship is to remain classified for 50 years.

Human Rights in Chile

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 22 January 2013]

Chile has made positive reforms to its counterterrorism law and military justice system.  Nonetheless, while military courts no longer exercise jurisdiction over civilians, they continue to try police accused of human rights abuses. The Piñera administration has not pressed “terrorism” charges against indigenous protesters, but some prosecutors charge them under the counterterrorism law for actions that should be considered common crimes.

The government took some important steps to remedy overcrowding and inhumane conditions in Chilean prisons, but prison conditions remain a problem.

Most recorded cases of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances committed during military rule (1973-1990) have been heard in court or are under judicial investigation.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


In August, the Valech II Commission issued a report confirming five additional cases of enforced disappearance, 25 political killings and 9,795 cases of torture. The commission had been established in 2010 to assess cases of enforced disappearance, political killings, political imprisonment and torture that had not been presented to the Rettig and Valech Commissions. By the end of the year, the total number of people officially recognized as disappeared or killed between 1973 and 1990 stood at 3,216 and survivors of political imprisonment and/or torture at 38,254.

The number of cases of human rights violations under investigation by the courts rose to its highest level yet following the submission in January by a court prosecutor of 726 new criminal complaints and more than 1,000 complaints filed over the years by relatives of those executed on political grounds.

According to the Interior Ministry Human Rights Programme, as of May there were 1,446 ongoing investigations. Between 2000 and the end of May 2011, 773 former members of the security forces had been charged or sentenced for human rights violations and 245 had had final sentences confirmed. However, only 66 were in prison, the rest having benefited from non-custodial sentences or sentences that were later reduced or commuted.


There were several reports of torture and other ill-treatment, including beatings and threats of sexual violence, against students arbitrarily detained by police during student demonstrations.

In August, 16-year-old Manuel Gutiérrez Reinoso died after being shot by a police officer during student demonstrations in the capital Santiago. Five police officers were subsequently dismissed and a police general resigned. In November, the military appeals court ordered the release on bail of the policeman accused of the shooting.

There were renewed reports of excessive use of force during police operations against Mapuche communities.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 25 December 2018]

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Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 22 January 2013]

[accessed 3 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – Although the law prohibits such practices, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) still received isolated reports of abuse and mistreatment by the Carabineros, the Investigations Police (PICH), and prison guards.

Few reports of abuse or mistreatment led to convictions. Cases of military and police abuse typically were processed in military rather than civilian courts (see section 1.e.).

On July 19, three officers in the Gendarmeria were indicted in a court of first instance in Colinas, Santiago, for a 2002 incident in which two prisoners suffered hearing loss due to alleged mistreatment at a high-security cellblock in the Colinas II prison. No further information was available.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 1   Civil Liberties: 1   Status: Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 22 January 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 11 May 2020]

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed in 1990 to investigate human rights violations committed under military rule. Its report implicated the military and secret police leadership in the deaths or forced disappearances of 2,279 people between 1973 and 1990. Chilean courts convicted several former military officers of heinous crimes, ruling that a 1978 amnesty decree was inapplicable in cases of forced disappearance.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, " Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Chile",, [accessed <date>]