Time to establish an effective oversight body in Chile

Monday, December 12, 2011

The APT will visit Chile from 13 to 16 December 2011 in order to meet senior members of the Government, Senate, Judiciary and NGO representatives to consider actions that can be taken to prevent abuses of persons deprived of their liberty. The APT delegation will include the Uruguayan member of the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and the Secretary General of the APT.

Chile as a State Party to the UN Convention against Torture has obligations 'to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction'. The Optional Protocol to the Convention, which Chile has also ratified in December 2008, proposes practical steps to implement that obligation. However, Chile still does not have a functioning National Preventive Mechanism, which is an essential requirement for all States Parties to the prevention Protocol.

The challenge

To make useful recommendations to the State, national and international expert bodies, established under the Protocol, are expected to make regular visits to all places of detention. In practice this responsibility falls almost entirely on the National Preventive Mechanism. In the case of Chile the National Human Rights Institute has been delegated this task. However, the Institute’s legislative mandate, budget and staffing have not been adjusted to take on this additional role. Hence the objective of the APT’s visit to consider best ways forward for Chile to move ahead with the national implementation of the Protocol and thus make real progress in prevention of future abuses.