Under its mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights, the IACHR has been reviewing the status of human rights in the countries of the hemisphere and has drawn up special reports on some of them. These reports have been prepared on the Commission’s own initiative, or on instructions from an organ of the Organization of American States, and, in some cases, at the spontaneous request of the country concerned.


          The Commission feels that these reports, their later dissemination, and discussion of them have helped to change the behavior of particular countries as regards their observance of human rights, and in some cases, the reports have placed on record that the behavior of a country is in accord with international commitments it has undertaken in the field of human rights.


          In recent years, the Commission has drawn up reports on 14 countries, some of which, such as Chile, Cuba, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, have been the subject of several reports.


          Follow-ups on these reports have usually been included in the Commission’s annual reports to the General Assembly when warranted by the State’s behavior in the human rights area.


          The Commission’s Annual Report submitted to the sixteenth regular session of the General Assembly included a chapter with sections on the status of human rights in Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Suriname from September 1985 to September 1986.


          In the Commission’s view, there are reasons to warrant the reviewing all of those member countries again in this Annual Report.


          In the case of Paraguay, the Government’s persistent refusal to allow the Commission to visit the country and the lack of significant progress in the observance of human rights led the Commission to prepare a second report on the status of human rights in Paraguay, which updates the Commission’s 1978 report. For that reason, this chapter does not include a section on Paraguay.


          In order to make the information available to it as complete as possible, the Commission, on June 30, 1987, requested the eight countries mentioned to provide it with any information they deemed appropriate, but particularly information on how they had complied with the Commission’s previous recommendations; on the progress they had made and any difficulties they had encountered in effective observance of human rights; and on the text of any statute enacted or case law that might have affected the observance of human rights.


          Where warranted, the Governments’ responses and any other information from various sources to which the Commission has had access have been taken into consideration in drafting this chapter.


          The following sections will cover the status of human rights in Chile, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua and Suriname, since the adoption on September 25, 1986, of the previous report up to the approval date of this report.


          The Commission reiterates that the inclusion of these sections is not designed to give an overall and complete description of the status of human rights in each of the seven countries mentioned. That could only be done by drawing up general reports, such as the one on Paraguay. The Commission’s intent here is rather to give an update covering the period of approximately one year since the last general reports.


          The presentation in this chapter leads the Commission to offer some thoughts on the work of promoting respect for human rights in the hemisphere, a function and duty given it by the legal instruments governing it. The Commission believes it necessary to share these observations with the General Assembly through this report.


Human Rights and Elections


          The Commission wishes to note first the importance of the elections that have just been held in Haiti and Suriname. It has repeatedly referred to the great importance it assigns to the exercise of political rights, which, in both cases, will constitute a fundamental step toward re-establishment of representative democracy. The Commission trusts that the governments chosen in these elections will help to strengthen the system of representative democracy and the guarantees and liberties inherent in it, in order to extend and consolidate the observance of human rights.


          Along the same lines, the Commission expresses the hope that the political process now under way in Chile will lead that country to establish a truly democratic system, as defined in the legal instruments of the inter-American community. In that regard, the Commission trusts that conditions propitious for broader participation of the citizens in the scheduled election will be established, and that the exercise of civil and political rights will be respected and promoted so the right to vote can be exercised with the required freedom and responsibility, and the results of the election will faithfully reflect the will of the people.


Human Rights and Peace. The Esquipulas II Agreement


          The Commission feels it is most important to describe also the recent events in Central America, which are designed to overcome some of the most immediate causes of the restrictions on the exercise of human rights in the region. Since this situation involves characteristics that are peculiar to each country—Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala—the Commission would like to comment briefly on this topic.


          The simultaneous adoption of the measures called for in the Esquipulas II Presidential Agreement within 90 days of its signature—dialogue with the unarmed opposition, amnesty for armed rebels, cease fire, cessation of outside assistance to armed groups, lifting of the states of emergency and the consequent restoration of civil and political liberties—constitutes an event to which the Commission accords the greatest significance and importance.


          In fact, the IACHR has consistently called attention to the urgent need to eliminate violence as an instrument of political confrontation, and to ensure unrestricted political pluralism and civil and political rights associated with the exercise of representative democracy. In doing so, it was the Commission’s view that observance of human rights by the countries is essential for their internal peace and that respect for international law—of which the American legal system on human rights is a part—is essential for peace among those countries. International law, human rights and peace therefore constitute an indissoluble whole with multiple and crucial interrelationships.


          The Commission is aware of the difficulties and risks facing the fragile and promising process begun on August 7 in Guatemala City. The Commission is also aware that all of those involved must contribute to the success of that process, so as to satisfy the desires of the people of Central America. Countries and individuals, institutions and groups must do their utmost to make this a first but decisive step on the road to restoring and strengthening human rights.


          It is in this framework that the Commission will continue, in carrying out the duties assigned to it by the inter-American instruments governing it, to point out those factors that it considers will lead to the observance and promotion of human rights in the area. This work is all the more important insofar as it tends to provide an objective and impartial view of the status of these rights; and the seriousness of the declarations require technical consideration without any political intent.


          The use of the human rights topic as an instrument of political struggle, either within the countries or by some countries against others, constitutes a serious perversion of the international legal system on human rights. As the Commission has had occasion to state, this constitutes more of a hindrance than a help in the effective observance and promotion of human rights. Accordingly, the Commission will, as it has always done, continue to do everything in its power to carry out properly the duties given it because it regards this as its contribution to the process now under way in Central America.




          The Commission has continued to observe with special attention the status of human rights in Cuba during the period covered by this report. Its findings are presented below to update the information contained in its 1985-86 annual report, which followed the seventh report on the status of human rights in Cuba, approved in late 1983.


          In proceeding thusly, the Commission is complying with its own Rules which give it competence to consider the human rights situation in Cuba. As stated in its Seventh Report on the Human Rights Situation in Cuba, that authority is “based on those elements which generally justify its competence: the person, place, time and subject matter.” The Commission also believes it necessary to reiterate that insofar as it has continued to exercise its competence and has received and processed complaints against the Government of Cuba, the latter has continued to enjoy its right of defense before the Commission and the same is true with regards to special reports done by the Commission on that country.


          Information received by the Commission during the period of this report shows that few changes in human rights have occurred in Cuba, as that situation has been described by the IACHR. Thus, in the field of civil and political rights, there continues to be a lack of effective resources for individuals to assert their rights vis-à-vis the State, and the absence of political choices other than the Communist Party of Cuba. In the field of economic, social and cultural rights, the description given by the IACHR in its seventh report continues to obtain in that the basic needs of the people have been substantially met.


          The Commission wishes to note, however, that during the period of this report, there have continued to be difficulties resulting from the lack of the Cuban Government’s cooperation with it. This has hampered the Commission’s performance of its duties, such as reporting in the most impartial and objective way possible on the human rights situation in that country. The same negative impact has been produced by the lack of the Cuban Government’s cooperation with the Commission in handling individual cases, in which the Commission has had to resort to secondary sources to obtain the information necessary to determine the facts.


          This lack of cooperation prevents the Commission from fully performing the duties given it by the American legal instruments governing it, and keeps it from obtaining full and direct knowledge of the human rights situation in Cuba in order to make judgments on that situation based on technical criteria. The Commission feels that with such behavior the Cuban Government is helping to increase the extreme politicization surrounding discussions on the topic of human rights in Cuba, and preventing the calm and objective consideration that should be given that subject. Notwithstanding the situation, the Commission will continue to observe the status of human rights in performing its duties to report to the other member states of the Organization.


          During the period covered by this report, negotiations continued between the United States Episcopal Conference and the Government of Cuba to make progress in freeing political prisoners, including the numerous “steadfast” or “resister” prisoners (los plantados). The development of this process led to the preparation in June of this year of a list containing the names of 347 prisoners, a substantial proportion of whom had reportedly been included by the Cuban Government itself. The Government had reportedly undertaken to allow the emigration of released prisoners who wish to leave Cuba, and the United States Immigration Service was expected to begin processing around 300 applications to determine the eligibility of the applicants under the provisions of the refugee program. It is estimated that that is the number of persons who might leave the island during the rest of this year.


          In this connection, the Commission notes also that the Cuban Government has asked private agencies working in the refugee field to submit, through the Cuban Interests Section (Sección de Intereses) in the United States, lists of prisoners they regard as suitable to leave Cuba under similar conditions. As a result of the initial steps taken under this new mode of operation, a list has been drawn up containing 500 new names.


          Also during the period of this report, and regarding the same topic, the Commission was informed that important political prisoners had been released. For example, Ramón Bernardo Conte Hernández, who took part in the invasion of Playa Girón, was released on October 18, 1986, and Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo was released on December 20 of that year. Information provided to the Commission indicates that there still remain 70 “steadfast” prisoners (plantados) in the so-called historic political prison, and 56 political prisoners serving terms in Cuban prisons. The lists of both categories of prisoners are in the Commission’s possession.


          Released prisoners have complained of the poor conditions under which they served their terms and the mistreatment to which they were subjected during their stay in Cuban jails. Information in the press on these topics shows that Cuban authorities permitted a visit of foreign journalists to the Combinado del Este jail and the Guanajay penitentiary for women. The visit lasted a full day. It should however be noted that the Government of Cuba has not permitted similar visits to human rights organizations or the International Red Cross.


          This situation has made it extremely difficult to confirm the data that have been provided, during the period covered by this report, on the number of political prisoners now in Cuba. Thus, the Pro-Human Rights Committee of Cuba estimates that around 16,500 persons are serving sentences for behavior connected with State security.


          That figure includes those in prison for having tried to leave the country illegally. In this connection, it should be noted that during this period many attempts were made, often successfully, to leave Cuba illegally. The Government of that country has publicly stated that this situation could be eliminated once emigration relationships with the United States, which were interrupted by the Cuban Government when Radio Marti began to transmit to the island, were regularized.


          Also during the period of this report, the Commission received various reports on the status of Mr. Ricardo Bofil Pagés who, as the Commission stated in its previous annual report, had taken refuge in the French Embassy after the human rights organization that he directed was raided by the police. During that operation, the following were also arrested: Domingo Delgado Castro, José Luis Alvarado Delgado, Enrique Hernández Méndez, Adolfo Rivero Caro and Elizardo Sánchez Santa Cruz.


          The information received by the Commission indicates that the Government allegedly gave assurances to Mr. Bofil that caused him to leave the French Embassy. Mr. Santa Cruz declared a hunger strike between late October and early November 1986, for which reason he was transferred to the Military Hospital and was then returned to the State Security Department where he was allowed only one 15-minute visit a week. The Commission does not know the recent status of the rest of those listed.


          The uncertainty of the information surrounding this case shows once again the need for the Cuban Government to collaborate with the Commission by providing information to clarify the status of human rights in that country, both with regard to the handling of individual cases and to the overall human rights situation. The Commission considers that this will help it to give the subject the serious and objective treatment that is the fundamental basis for making real progress in this field. Accordingly, the IACHR again urges the Cuban Government to provide promptly the information the Commission needs to carry out the duties given it by the legal instruments that govern it.




          The Commission has carefully observed the human rights situation in Chile since the start of the present military regime. In carrying out this function, the IACHR devoted four special reports to Chile, which were approved in 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1985. In its annual reports to the General Assembly, the IACHR updated the information contained in those special reports. That is the purpose of this section.


          The Commission has gathered such information on the most important events in Chile that have affected the human rights situation in the period covered by this report. Most of this information comes from the Chilean Government through frequent submissions of documents having to do with the observance of human rights, that the Chilean Mission to the OAS has provided. The Commission also wishes to place on record that the Chilean Government has on most occasions given prompt replies to the Commission’s requests for information.


          During the period of this report, Chile remained under the effects of the various types of states of emergency (estado de excepción). Thus, the state of siege, imposed on September 7, 1986, after the attack against the President and his escort, was renewed for 30 days on December 6 of that year under Supreme Decree 1.435, in view of the “existing situation of disturbances.” The renewal of the state of siege partially covered the territory of the country: In Region II, it applied only to the Province of Antofagasta, while it covered all of Regions II, IV and V and metropolitan Santiago. Region VIII was also covered, except for the province of Arauco.


          During the state of siege, Supreme Decree Exempt from Constitutional Review Nº 200, also of December 6, 1986, delegated to the national defense chiefs designated for each region the authority to restrict freedom of movement, suspend or restrict the freedom of assembly, suspend or restrict freedom of information and of expression, impose censorship on correspondence and communications and prohibit specified persons from leaving the country. These powers are granted to the president under Article 41 subparagraph 2 of the Constitution.


          The state of siege remained in effect until January 5, 1987, when it expired without being renewed and has been progressively lifted by region. On the expiration date of the state of siege, the curfew for metropolitan Santiago was also lifted.


          During the entire period covered by this report, the state of emergency (estado de emergencia) and the state of danger of disturbance of internal peace were in effect. Under Article 40, subparagraph 5 of the Constitution, two or more states of emergency (estado de excepción) may be in effect at the same time. This and the enforcement of temporary provision 24 means that in the period of this report President Pinochet has been authorized to arrest persons for five to twenty days, depending on the charges against them; to restrict freedom of association and the right to freedom of expression with respect to founding new organs of expression; to prohibit the entry of persons into Chile or to expel persons from it for political reasons; and to banish such persons as may be considered necessary to any settlement in the country for 90 days. The only recourse against the measures taken by the President under the above-mentioned transitory provision is a request to him for reconsideration, and there is no recourse at all to the judiciary.


          Based on the establishment of the states of emergency (estados de excepción) mentioned, the authorities responsible for their enforcement issued various provisions specifying the limitations on some of the human rights affected. Thus, on December 9, 1986, the Decree Exempt from Constitutional Review Nº 6,206 was published, which provided that the communication media:


         Must refrain from publicizing in any way, and by any media, information or opinion relating to:


         a) conduct described as terrorist crimes by Article 1 of Law 18,324;


         b) the activities of the persons, organizations, movements or groups referred to in Article 8 of the Political Constitution of the Republic;


         c) criminal conduct described and punished by subparagraph I) of Article 6 of Law 12,927, on State Security.


          Similar provisions are contained in the Decree Exempt from Constitutional Review Nº 6,225 of March 9, 1987, the date on which Decree 6,226 was also published, which keeps in effect the restrictions on the foundation, circulation or publication of new publications established by Decree 3,259 of 1981. According to this legal provision, the new publications must be authorized by the Ministry of the Interior.


          It is particularly important to note that the imposition of the state of siege and the state of danger of disturbance of internal peace have serious consequences, not only because of the suspensions and restrictions affecting the exercise of many rights, but also because, while they are in effect, persons cannot exercise the remedies that provide judicial protection for the elementary rights whose exercise may not be impaired under any circumstances.


          In fact, Article 41, subparagraph 3 of the Constitution provides that during the state of siege the remedies established by Article 21 of the Constitution, that is, the remedies of amparo or of habeas corpus, shall not be admissible. Article 41, subparagraph 3 also provides that in this case, “courts of justice may not, in any case, rule on the de facto merits of any measures that may have been taken by the authorities in the performance of their duties.” These are provisions that, as the Commission has pointed out, leave individuals completely defenseless against any measures taken by the Government. These rules also upset the balance of powers that characterize regimes where the rule of law prevails, by removing from the jurisdiction of the courts situations that affect the inalienable rights of persons.


          Both the defenselessness of individuals against the Government and the upsetting of the balance of powers is aggravated by the temporary Provision 24 of the Constitution that states that “no remedy shall be admissible to any provisions adopted under this provision, except reconsideration by the authority that ordered them” (the President of the Republic). Paradoxically, these are constitutional provisions that institutionalize arbitrary political power instead of providing remedies to correct it when it occurs.


          The set of rules restricting the rights recognized in the Chilean Constitution is completed with the provision in Article 41, Subparagraph 7, whereby:


Measures taken during the states of emergency (estados de excepción) that have no specified length may not be extended beyond the effective period of those states of emergency and may be enforced only when they are genuinely necessary, without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 3 of this article. However, measures expelling persons from and prohibiting their entry into the country, which are authorized in the preceding articles, shall remain in effect despite the lifting of the state of emergency that gave rise to them so long as the authority that decreed them does not expressly rescind them.


          As the above rule shows, under the Chilean Constitution and in matters of the right of residence and travel, the President of the Republic may impose sine die penalties against which no judicial remedy of any kind is admissible. The various practical effects of such negative legal provisions will be reviewed below.


          The Commission then will discuss the observance in Chile during the period of this report of the principal rights established by the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.


          Right to Life


          Regarding the right to life, the Commission must first mention two cases that were tried by the Chilean courts.


          The first involves Manuel Guerrero, José Manuel Parada and Santiago Nattino, who were abducted on the street in Santiago, the first two on March 28, 1985, and the last on March 29 of that year. They were found with their throats cut on March 30. Judge José Canovas Robles was appointed visiting magistrate to investigate the facts. In its special report on Chile of 1985, the Commission said it hoped “that the investigation now under way will lead to the identification and punishment of the persons responsible for committing so reprehensible an act.”


          In the period of this report, the judicial investigation recorded two new developments. On January 22, 1987, Judge Canovas ordered a temporary stay of proceedings, despite the numerous facts mentioned in his ruling, and reached the following conclusions:


         1. The existence of the crimes investigated has been fully proven, and 2. while there is sufficient evidence to believe that involved in these events were a uniformed group of carabineros who were part of a group known as “DICOMCAR” and who formed an illicit de facto association outside their institutional framework, this evidence, as evaluated by the higher courts, is not sufficient to accuse any particular person as the perpetrator, accomplice or accessory, and it is impossible at this point to continue with this investigation.


          The Vicariate of Solidarity (Vicaría de la Solidaridad), an organization of which José Manuel Parada was an official, issued a statement on the ruling, pointing out among other things that:


         We regret that once again such a brutal crime remains unpunished because of the impossibility of identifying those responsible for it. As the ruling states, this has occurred because of the lack of cooperation from the public organizations called upon by law to provide it. This negative result is a further example of discrimination in the effectiveness of criminal investigations, depending on who the victims are and who the possible perpetrators may be.


          On January 28, 1987, Carabineros of Chile issued a long statement commenting on various aspects of the temporary stay ordered by Judge Canovas and requesting that the investigation be reopened.


          The attorneys of the victims’ families also requested that Judge Canovas’ stay be set aside and that the investigation be reopened. Accordingly, on June 25, 1987, the third section of the Santiago Court of Appeals decided by a majority vote to reopen the pretrial investigation of the facts of this case, and thereby overturned the temporary stay ordered previously.


          Two and a half years after the occurrence of such reprehensible events, the courts continue to be unable to shed any light on the circumstances of this case or to determine who was responsible.


          Another case on which the Commission finds it necessary to point out new developments during the period of this report is the death of Rodrigo Rojas and the serious injuries that Carmen Gloria Quintana as the results of burns on July 2, 1986, which, according to the complaint lodged with the Commission, were caused by members of a military patrol.


          On January 29, 1987, the Military Prosecutor changed the previous committal decision regarding Lieutenant Pedro Fernández Dittus, and returned to the initial indictment of committing the quasi-delict of homicide on the person of Rodrigo Rojas and the quasi-delict of inflicting severe injuries on Carmen Gloria Quintana. The offense of quasi-delict covers wrongful behavior that is subject to lesser punishment. Up to that date, Lieutenant Fernández Dittus had been tried for the crime of unnecessary violence resulting in death and injury, a criminal offense that implies willful misconduct. Since the indictment was changed, the Military Prosecutor released Lieutenant Fernández Dittus on bail equivalent to 25 dollars.


          The representatives of the victims appealed the Military Prosecutor’s decision, which was upheld by a majority of the Military Court (Corte Marcial), on March 5, 1987.


          The Commission must again express its concern at the fact that after more than a year of intensive investigation, those responsible for such a reprehensible act have still not been identified. Nor can the Commission hide its consternation regarding the conditional release granted to Lieutenant Fernández Dittus under a bond that is little more than a token.


          Also with regard to the right to life, the Commission must cite the 12 deaths that occurred between June 15 and 16, 1987. The official reports state that these deaths occurred in confrontations between the National Information Center (CNI) and subversives belonging to the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front. Human rights organizations have expressed doubts about the circumstances of these deaths, both because of the information collected which contradicts the official version, and because of the fact that on numerous occasions, the Government has alleged that persons were killed in confrontations who later were found to have been summarily executed.


          The twelve persons killed are Recaredo Ignacio Valenzuela Pohorecky, Julio Arturo Guerra Olivares, Patricio Ricardo Acosta Castro, Juan Waldemar Henríquez Araya, José Joaquín Valenzuela Levy, Esther Angélica Cabrera Hinojosa, Patricia Angélica Quiroz Nilo, Elisabeth Edelmira Escobar Mondaca, Ricardo Cristian Silva Soto, Manuel Eduardo Valencia Calderón, Ricardo Hernán Rivera Silva and Héctor Luis Figueroa Gómez. Also, according to information provided by the CNI, eight persons accused of subversive activities were taken into custody during these operations, and four members of the security organization were wounded, two of them seriously.


          The preliminary comments of the Chilean Human Rights Commission on the manner in which various government institutions have operated in such circumstances are illustrative. It notes that:


         The operation was carried out by the CNI independently of any other agency of public security on public order.


         This shows clearly for the first time a continuing characteristic of the current constitutional system, which is the existence of a structure of political and military power that is autonomous from the civil power, and that with goals, decisions, and methods of its own that are independent of any civil control, it can act repressively, producing results such as those in this case.


         In charge of this operation was Army Major Julio Corvalán, CNI chief of operations, who was also the officer who reported what happened to the press. According to the reports, he was accompanied by about 500 agents and a huge quantity of equipment, which enabled him to conduct nearly 15 mass raids in 17 hours, and in one case three simultaneous raids, with around 200 agents taking part.


         The inclusion in these units of military judicial personnel shows the degree of integration that the military courts have established with the armed forces, at the same time that these courts are separated from the judiciary established in the present Constitution.


         This power structure, which for its own purposes reproduces in its framework the three branches of government—it defines its own internal rules, that is, it legislates; it possesses its own judicial jurisdictions, and it has a political branch that acts autonomously—is not subject to any effective control by the civil powers, and represents the maximum synthesis of the State of National Security.


          The Commission hopes that the investigation under way will promptly answer the questions that have arisen about these serious events.


          Right to humane treatment


          Regarding the right to humane treatment, the Commission has received information about claims of torture and mistreatment during the period of this report. Thus, the Vicariate of Solidarity says that there were 109 complaints lodged with Chilean courts, alleging torture during 1986 and 51 during the first half of 1987. Under the heading of unnecessary violence resulting in injury, the Vicariate of Solidarity lists 409 cases, which have given rise to complaints lodged with the courts or that have been reliably verified by that institution.


          One fact of particular seriousness because of its impact on the protection of the right to humane treatment has been the repeated refusal of the National Information Center to comply with court rulings, which in response to writs of amparo (enforcement of constitutional rights) ordered that the prisoners be given medical examinations. The CNI has also refused to comply with court orders to bring the prisoner before the court in order to verify his physical condition. The refusal of the CNI has been based on the state of siege, and gave rise to a strong communication from the full court of appeals of the Pedro Aguirre Cerda Department to the Supreme Court, which in turn addressed the President to inform him of this situation.


          A positive aspect concerning the right to humane treatment, which the Commission wishes to stress, is the announcement of the signature by the Chilean Minister of Foreign Affairs on September 24, 1987 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture. The Commission hopes that the international obligations that Chile has entered into under this instrument will result in a fundamental change from its past behavior with regard to torture which as the Commission stated in its report on the status of human rights in Chile in 1987 “has been a continuous, deliberate and systematic practice.”


          Right to personal liberty


          Information provided to the Commission by Chilean human rights organizations indicates that in the period of this report the Chilean Government has continued to fail to comply on many occasions with legal formalities in arresting persons. Thus, there have been repeated reports about the lack of arrest warrants or identification of the arresting authorities, which places the victims’ families in the anguished position of having to make enquiries about the whereabouts of the persons arrested. Repeated complaints have been made that the authorities predate arrest warrants to correct the non compliance with the legal formality mentioned.


          The Commission has also been informed that the CNI has refused to permit prisoners in their detention centers to have visitors. That was the status of persons for whom writ of amparo Nos. 1.413-86, 1.423-86, 1.431-86, 1.429-86 and 1.424-86 were filed. On receiving the request for information on these cases, the CNI replied that the persons involved “are not being held incommunicado but they cannot receive visits.” In practice, this anomalous situation helps to prolong the period of being held incommunicado beyond the legal time limits.


          One fact that deserves special consideration in connection with the right to personal liberty is the hunger strike that was initiated by persons arrested in connection with the attack against the President of the Republic, which was then continued by the persons now being tried or serving sentences under the Weapons Control Act, the State Security Act, and the Anti-Terrorist Act. Regarding these persons, there is a controversy as to whether or not they are political prisoners. The Government denies that they are political prisoners, while those involved and human rights institutions consider that they are.


          Human rights institutions have complained for some time about the poor conditions in which these persons are being held. They have pointed out the exceptional length of the proceedings to which they have been subjected, the refusal or the difficulties placed in the way of granting them some of the benefits accorded ordinary prisoners—release on parole, Sunday leave or release pending trial—deficient medical care, harassment of family members and visitors, and harsher punishment imposed on these prisoners.


          This situation has become worse during the period of this report because of arrests in connection with the attack against the President of the Republic and investigations connected with the finding of stores of weapons. One group of prisoners arrested in connection with that attack, started on February 26, 1987 a hunger strike which other prisoners who were tried under the above-mentioned law progressively joined until an estimated total of 400 were involved. The Vicariate of Solidarity stated in this connection that:


         In a public statement, the lawyers of the hunger strikers complained that their clients are constantly being pressured in various ways by those prosecuting their cases, including the categorical refusal to place on record the tortures suffered by the prisoners in the first days of their detention, when they were being held by the National Information Center; the long continuous periods of being held incommunicado, which in some cases was up to 45 consecutive days; being kept in solitary confinement, and being located in cellblocks together with common criminals, some of them highly dangerous, who could be employed to obtain information from them or even to commit offenses against their persons. Another measure making prisons conditions harsher is the reduction of visiting hours from six to three hours a week, and allowing entry into the prison of no more than five family members at a time for each prisoner. And also these visits must take place in the presence of a policeman stationed in the visiting area. In addition, the visit of any attorney other than the one that appears before the military prosecutor as the defense counsel is denied so that if any of the suspects in this case have another trial pending, they may not see their lawyer.


         In addition to these cases there are 14 political prisoners for whom the death penalty is asked and two sentenced to life imprisonment.


         Another problem affecting all persons tried for political crimes is the length of the investigations, which usually last for several years, during which time the accused are held in pre-trial detention without being eligible for release on bail.


          The demands of prisoners on hunger strikes range from the release of political prisoners and trial by impartial courts—removing the prisoners from the jurisdiction of military courts, which are regarded as not guaranteeing due process—up to rescission of death sentences, dismissal of charges for illegal entry into the country, commutation of prison sentences to exile, assembly of prisoners for political reasons, elimination of restrictions on visits, and abiding by prison rules.


          During the long period of the hunger strike, the following Vicars of Solidarity of the Zona Sur and Pastoral Obrera interceded in representation of the Catholic Church: Monsignor Tapia, Barriga and Baeza, as well as the United Nations Special  Rapporteur, Mr. Fernando Volio. In addition, a number of incidents occurred, such as the family members of prisoners on hunger strike chaining themselves to the iron grating of the National Congress. Many prisoners developed serious health problems, and some were transferred to medical care centers. The Archbishop of Santiago issued a public statement asking the Government to consider the hunger strikers’ petitions “because at least some of them appear to be reasonable and possible.”


          The strike lasted from February 26 to April 3, at which time it was called off “because of the visit of the Pope, who is the Messenger of Life,” as they stated. According to reports, the strike was called off because the authorities had shown a positive attitude toward resolving some of the problems raised.


          As to the number of arrested persons, human rights organizations report that in the year from July 1986 to June 1987, 4,558 persons were detained.


          Right to a fair trial


          The Commission has repeatedly stressed the great importance of an independent and effective judiciary for the protection of human rights. I has also repeatedly expressed its deep concern at the serious limitations imposed on the judiciary in Chile on the performance of its important duties. During the period of this report, the serious events that occurred in this field have helped to reaffirm the concerns voiced by the Commission on previous occasions.


          For example, the uninterrupted imposition of various states of emergency (estados de excepción)—whose effects are superimposed on each other as was stated above—continued to severely restrict the actions of the judiciary. This has been more evident during the months of the state of siege, especially because of the repeated refusal of the National Information Center (CNI) to comply with court orders resulting from the remedies of amparo or habeas corpus.


          The refusal of the CNI to honor the writs of amparo or of habeas corpus were based on the existence of the state of siege. Thus, in response to the writ of amparo filed for Eduardo Barahona Arriagada and others, General Humberto Gordon, Director of the CNI, explained his noncompliance with the order by stating that “persons detained under the authority of the State of Siege, so long as they remain in that capacity, are at the disposal of the Ministry of Interior. For that reason, the information requested on justification of the detention procedures should be requested from that Ministry.”


          The attitude of the CNI provoked a reaction from the Appeals Court of the Pedro Aguirre Cerda Department, which, on receiving three writs of amparo, on September 29, 1986, found there was no justification for the attitude of that security agency, so the Court decided to notify the Second Military Court (Juzgado Militar) of the situation and remit the cases to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, which subsequently received other ruling from the Appeals Court of Concepcion and Valdivia reporting similar events, informed the President of the Republic of these facts. While the Supreme Court communication has not been made public, General Pinochet’s response, dated October 30, 1986, stated the following:


         Having learned, through your communication, of the decision of the full court, I wish to convey through you the deep concern the occurrence of the events described caused me, and to inform you that I have immediately given instructions to the Ministers of the Interior and of National Defense to reiterate to that service, in light of your communication and its contents, my orders to the effect that they must proceed at all times in strict compliance with the Constitution and the laws, and must take due cognizance of the facts in each case.


         I beg the distinguished Court through you to inform me immediately through the Minister of Justice, of any problems that may arise in this regard, so they may be promptly and properly resolved.


          It should be recalled that attitudes such as the one indicated are not new. On the contrary they have been occurring regularly in both the CNI and its predecessor the DINA. A detailed review of these matters was conducted by the Commission in its report on the status of human rights in Chile in 1985. In this connection, it is important to point out how the persons and situations involved remain the same, because it is the same General Gordon, the Director of the CNI, who places a number of obstacles in the way of compliance with court orders issued under the remedy of amparo. It is also the Supreme Court that addresses the President of the Republic to inform him of this very irregular situation. It is the same General Pinochet who gives assurances that the incidents that gave rise to the problems will be resolved under the Constitution and the laws. All of these events occurred in 1982, 1984 and now, during the period covered by this report.


          Another fact of particular importance occurred in Chile during the period of this report in the area of the right to a fair trial. The incident arose between the Supreme Court and Judge Carlos Cerda of the Santiago Court of Appeals, who was acting as a visiting magistrate charged with investigating the status of ten persons arrested in 1976 by the DINA who have been missing to date.


          In 1985, Judge Cerda committed Miguel Estay Reyno for trial because he was regarded as an accomplice in the crime of illegitimate deprivation of liberty of two persons that had disappeared: Reinalda Pereyra Plaza and Edras Pinto Arroyo. The defense had invoked for the accused the 1978 amnesty law, which covered crimes committed between September 11, 1973 and March 10, 1978. Both the Santiago Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court had rejected this defense argument in 1985 and 1986.


          After more than three years of patient investigation, Judge Cerda committed for trial by a ruling of August 14, 1986, a total of 40 persons—38 of them members of the armed forces and of the law enforcement agencies—for crimes of illegal association and illegitimate deprivation of liberty of two of the alleged victims. Among the accused are high ranking officers of the three branches of the armed forces. The defense appealed the decision of Judge Cerda to the Santiago Court of Appeals because it considered that the Judge had committed an error or abuse of authority because the criminal liability of the accused had been extinguished by Decree Law 2.191 on amnesty.


          Reviewing all of the antecedents, the Eighth Section of the Appeals Court admitted the remedy, and ruled that amnesty was applicable. It dismissed the case not only of the four accused for whom the remedy had been filed, but for the other 36 as well. On October 6, 1986, the Second Section of the Supreme Court upheld that ruling of the Appeals Court.


          On October 7, Judge Cerda, in response to the Supreme Court ruling that ordered him to dismiss the charges against the accused, issued a ruling on which, based on substantiated legal considerations and review of the criminal law, he concluded that the order given him by the Appeals Court, considering of a general dismissal of proceedings against the accused


         Because they are accorded amnesty for the crimes of which they are accused, is obviously contrary to law, because it is improper, and, consequently, compels this court to resubmit the case immediately to the higher court, under Article 226, subparagraph 2 of the Penal Code, in order to release the court from any responsibility for the possible commission of any of the offenses of prevarication described in paragraph 4 of Title V of Book II of the same statute.


          For these reasons, Judge Cerda suspended compliance with what was ordered and submitted his reasons for the suspension to the Appeals Court, for which purpose an authorized photocopy of this ruling will be submitted to it.


          The Supreme Court, on taking cognizance of Judge Cerda’s ruling, considered that that ruling constituted a repudiation of his obligations and a “serious lack of judicial discipline, because no precept authorizes him to appeal or to dispute executable judicial judgments, much less those handed down by the Supreme Court.” In addition, the Supreme Court added, the conduct of Judge Cerda as a judge of first instance constitutes a “violation of the fundamental bases of the organization and operation of the Judiciary,” an offense that the Supreme Court “has the duty to impose severe disciplinary punishment.”


          Accordingly, the Supreme Court punished Judge Carlos Cerda Fernández with two months of suspension of duties at half pay, “which will take effect immediately.”


          The Commission finds it necessary, in view of the above facts, to reiterate the validity of the conclusions it set forth in its 1985 report on the status of human rights in Chile, when it pointed out that, despite the determinant negative factors that have been brought to bear on the judiciary in Chile, some of its members have shown a high sense of responsibility and independence, which gives the Commission the hope that the judiciary will resume its traditional conduct in defense of the basic values of the person and will recover the prestige that it deservedly enjoyed previously.


          The Commission finds it necessary also to note the profound distortions in the area of the right to a fair trial caused by the imposition of the State of Danger of the Disturbance of Internal Peace. In fact, as the Commission has repeatedly stated, the existence of that state of emergency (estado de excepción), imposed under Transitory Provision 24 of the Constitution, gives the President of the Republic even greater power than those of the judiciary, because under that provision the President can, among other measures, deprive persons whom he considers objectionable of the right to live in Chile, and his decision may not be corrected by the judiciary.


          During the period of this report, several events made clear the close relationship between the right to a fair trial and the right of residence and movement by virtue of the existence of Temporary Provision 24 of the Constitution. The Commission will relate them below.


          On March 19, 1987, Mr. Clodomiro Almeyda, former Foreign Minister of the Salvador Allende Government and now President of the Socialist Party of Chile, who was prevented by the Government from returning to his country, entered the country through a mountain pass where there was no police control. On May 24, he appeared before the Second Criminal Court of Santiago, in which he was being tried for misappropriation of funds, with the trial taking place in his absence because he was prevented from entering Chile. The judge in the case acquitted Mr. Almeyda of the charges against him, in consultation with the Court of Appeals.


          After his acquittal, Mr. Almeyda was placed under arrest for illegal entry into the country, according to the Government’s official report. On March 25, Mr. Almeyda was banished by the Government to Chile Chico, a locality 1800 kms from Santiago, on order of the Ministry of the Interior, under Transitory Provision 24 of the Constitution.


          Later, Mr. Almeyda was accused of advocating violence and terrorism, under the Antiterrorist Act, which provides that the accused may not be released on bail until his trial has been completed. Accordingly, Mr. Almeyda remains under arrest despite the fact that on July 30, the Examining Magistrate dismissed the charges against him because an appeal by the prosecuting attorney of the Republic is still pending.


          A similar situation occurred on May 12, 1987, when Mrs. Mireya Baltra, former Deputy and former Ministry of Labor of President Allende’s Government, and Julieta Campusano, former Senator of the Communist Party, appeared before the Santiago Court of Appeals requesting protection of their right to live in their country. Both were released by the court and were banished administratively by the Ministry of the Interior. Mrs. Campusano was banished to Punta Gorda, in the north of Chile, and Mireya Baltra to Puerto Aisen in the south. On May 15, Mrs. Campusano was transferred to the locality of Camina, which is in the highlands at a great altitude above sea level. On July 17, the Ministry of the Interior finalized the banishment of these persons.


          A number of judicial actions were also taken in relation to the right of residence and movement when the Second Section of the Santiago Court of Appeals admitted on May 26, 1987 an application for amparo filed on behalf of 105 exiled persons, including Mrs. Hortensia Bussi de Allende. Judges José Canovas and Carlos Cerda voted in favor of the remedy, while Judge Alberto Novoa contended that the measure to prevent entry into the country of the exiled persons had been taken by the Executive Branch under Temporary Provision 24 of the Constitution, against which there was no remedy of any kind, except reconsideration by the authority that ordered the measure.


          Judges Canovas and Cerda contended that the measure against the petitioners had been taken by the Executive Branch because they were considered “a danger to the domestic peace of the country,” without any valid evidence being submitted to support that designation. In view of the Court of Appeals ruling, the Ministry of the Interior asked the Supreme Court for an order of noninnovation (orden de no innovar) and appealed the ruling that protected the exiled persons. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Ministry of the Interior’s appeal, thereby setting aside the authorization for the exiled persons to return to Chile.


          During the period between the authorization of the Appeals Court and the denial of it by the Supreme Court, the folklorist Isabel Parra succeeded in entering Chile. On June 3, her name was stricken from the list of persons prevented from residing in Chile. However, on May 28, the Supreme Court rejected the writ of amparo filed on behalf of the 105 exiled persons, because it considered that exclusion from the country was a measure vested in the Executive Branch of the country under temporary Provision 24 of the Constitution.


          Right of residence and movement


          In addition to the facts mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, which affect the right of residence and movement of Chilean citizens, the Commission must note that the Government of Chile has been substantially reducing the number of persons prevented from returning to the country. These measures have followed the announcement by the President of the Republic in his speech at the end of 1986, in which he offered to end the exile problem. The number of Chileans prevented from returning to their country was 3717 persons.


          The Commission must note aspects relating to the measures taken by the Chilean Government on the right of residence and movement. First, it must state that while it considers reducing in the number of persons denied that right to be positive, the existence of such persons continues to be a violation of international law in the area of human rights, because if a government has charges to place against a person, they should be substantiated by a competent court so that it may impose the proper penalties for them.


          Second, the Commission must note that the existence of the often mentioned temporary Provision 24 of the Constitution means that there hangs over all Chileans the possibility of punishment by exile, against which there is no remedy. An illustrative case is that of the Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman, who was residing in Chile, and when he returned to the country on August 2, 1987 after traveling abroad, he was prevented from entering by police who acted, they said, in compliance with orders of the Ministry of the Interior. Mr. Dorfman was placed on an airplane going to Buenos Aires, and while the measure was then rescinded, this shows the precariousness surrounding the exercise of a right as important as residence and movement.


          Right to freedom of expression


          Regarding the right to freedom of expression, it should be made clear first that the exercise of this right was subject to restrictions, which led in the last months of 1986 to the imposition of the state of siege. Under the provisions of that state of emergency, the magazines Análisis, Cauce, Apsi, Hoy, La Bicicleta and the newspaper Fortín Mapocho, were prevented from circulating. The measure against the magazine Hoy was rescinded before the state of siege was lifted. Edict 3 of the Office of the area Chief in the state of siege banned information to the Italian news agency Ansa.


          Military Edict 2 of November 18, 1986 ordered the book “Allende demócrata intransigente” (Allende intransigent democrat) seized, without giving any reason for doing so. When the state of siege was lifted, it became known that 15,000 copies of the books “La Aventura de Miguel Littín, clandestine en Chile,” (The Adventures of Miguel Littín, in the Chilean Underground) of Gabriel García Márquez and “Proceso a la Izquierda” (Movement to the Left) of the Venezuelan politician Teodoro Petkoff had been incinerated. The books had been seized in customs by order of the “Area Chief in the State of Siege of the Fifth Region, under the authority granted him by the political Constitution of Chile,” according to the report of the Ministry of the Interior to the Cámara del Libro. That institution considered the burning of the books as “an act unworthy of a civilized country.”


          In the period covered by this report, the trial against the director of the magazine Análisis, Juan Pablo Cárdenas, who was charged with defaming the President of the Republic, was concluded. Mr. Cárdenas was convicted and sentenced on January 29, 1987 to three years of night time confinement in prison, because the examining magistrate Lionel Beraud Poblete asserted that “from a mere reading of the editorials (of the magazine Análisis), one can conclude that the only thing sought by them is to undermine the credit and reputation of the present Government with the country.”


          The Second Summer Section of the Appeals Court ruled in favor of the appeal of the defense, set aside the verdict of the Court of First Instance, and acquitted Mr. Cárdenas because the court considered that he had not defamed General Pinochet. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Government’s appeal and sentenced Mr. Cárdenas to 541 days in prison, to be served with night-time confinement. Mr. Cárdenas was imprisoned under this charge from July 28 to August 26, 1986.


          On May 29, 1987, the First Military Prosecutor committed the director of the newspaper Fortín Mapocho, Mr. Felipe Pozo Ruiz and a journalist of that paper, Gilberto Palacios, for trial, charged with offenses detrimental to the armed forces. The charge was based on an article published in April 1986 on the conditions under which military service is performed.


          Also with regard to the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, the publishing house Terranova was raided on December 29, 1986 by CNI agents, who seized works printed by the publisher and machinery owned by it. In May 1987, the Fourth Section of the Appeals Court ruled that the CNI must return the publications and machinery within five days, which was done.


          The Commission must note that in the period covered by this report, La Época, a newspaper connected with persons of the Christian Democrat Party, began circulation in March 1987. The Commission had reported previously that the Government had authorized the paper to begin publication.


          Political rights


          During the period of this report, the Chilean Government enacted two laws to carrying out the political timetable called for in the 1980 Constitution. These acts are Law 18.556, known as the Constitutional Organic Law on the Electoral Registration and Electoral Service System, published in the Official Gazette on October 1, 1986, and Law 18.603, the Constitutional Organic Law of Political Parties, published on March 23, 1987. Also during the period of this report, the Elections Board (Tribunal Calificador de Elecciones) was installed on April 7, 1987, while procedures began under the draft Constitutional Organic Law on Voting and Elections for the President of the Republic, Members of Parliament and Plebiscites. The Commission will comment below on these laws and the reactions to them because they are considered to be directly connected with the exercise of political rights.


a.                 Law 18.556 on the Voter Registration System


          This law, better known as the Voter Registration Law, is intended to organize the registration procedure for future elections and to set up the electoral service. This law, which was commented on by the Constitutional Court, has 102 permanent and nine transitory articles. Based on its provisions, the voter rolls, which had been destroyed at the beginning of the military government, began to be reconstituted.


          The publication of this law and its implementation produced various reactions, both with regard to the contents of some of its provisions and to its significance and impact on the development of the Chilean political system. Regarding the contents of some of its provisions, many observers pointed out the discriminatory nature of Article 39, under which, among other reasons, registration to the vote is prohibited to those who have been punished by the Constitutional Court, under Article 8 of the Constitution. As is well known, this provision bans political parties and movements that spread “doctrines that are harmful to the family, advocate violence or a conception of society or the State or of the legal system that is totalitarian in nature or based on the class struggle.”


          The Commission has already had occasion to address Article 8 extensively in its 1985 report on the status of human rights in Chile. At this time, it is enough to point out that the provisions of Article 39 of the Voter Registration Law put into practice in one particular aspect the discrimination contained in Article 8 of the Constitution. That discriminatory aspect is in clear-cut conflict with the stand that has been taken on human rights throughout the hemisphere, one of whose most important contributions is the 1959 Declaration of Santiago, Chile, which states that “the systematic use of political proscription is contrary to the American democratic system.”


          Aspects of the practical application of the Voter Registration Law have also been cited to criticize its provisions severely. Thus, it has been pointed out that various factors might create conditions to thwart the popular will expressed in an election, such as over-long registration procedures, the cost of these procedures, the requirement of a new identification card, manual processing in the first phase of the registration, and the designation of election officials lacking the impartiality they should have for such an important mechanism.


          The most important discussion, however, has occurred regarding whether or not to register on the voter rolls. This is an issue of clear implications regarding the exercise of political rights, so the Commission feels the matter should be carefully considered. Actually, substantial sectors of Chilean political life, especially those connected with the Popular Democratic Movement (MDP), whose main member is the Communist Party of Chile, have rejected voter registration because they regard this as a recourse instituted by the Government, which involves to some extent recognition of that Government. They also feel that it is virtually impossible for the Government to lose an election organized entirely by it.


          Other sectors, including a broad spectrum of political and social organizations, and personalities of various ideological persuasions have felt, however, that it is essential to speed up voter registration. Some maintain this position for practical reasons and some for reasons of principle. The latter mention the fact that regardless of the nature of the election held—whether a plebiscite or regular elections—it is essential to register to vote, because the Government is encouraging registration of its supporters. In light of that fact, opponents who support registration maintain that it is preferable to have the largest number of voters registered, because they feel that the majority would oppose the government candidates. Regarding the reasons of principle in favor of voter registration is the fact that the exercise of the right to vote is an inalienable right of the person and is also a civic duty.


          The Permanent Committee of the Episcopate, published on June 10, 1987 an appeal to register to vote because it is “a right and a duty of all citizens,” and asked those having responsibility over other persons to provide them with conditions enabling them to register.


          This appeal was reiterated by the Episcopal Conference of Chile on August 13, 1987.


          The potential number of voters, taking into consideration that in Chile the voting age is 18, ranges from 7,500,000 to 8,000,000. According to data provided to the Commission by the Permanent Mission of Chile to the OAS, 1,212,205 citizens had already registered by June 30, 1987.


b.                 Law 18.603 on Political Parties


          On March 23, 1987, the Constitutional Organic Law of Political Parties was published in the Official Gazette, and a draft of it had been submitted by the Government Junta to the Constitutional Court. This court issued a ruling on this subject, which affected the fifteen articles of the draft, after which the Government Junta eliminated the provisions considered unconstitutional and remitted the text to the Executive Branch for promulgation.


          The text of this law, like the Voter Registration, implements the constitutional provisions on political parties, so that it retains the serious limitations contained in Article 8 of the Constitution. Article 42, subparagraph 7 of the Law of Political Parties provides as aground for dissolution of a political party the declaration of its unconstitutionality, applying to it the provisions of Article 8. In this case, under Article 45 of this law, the party’s property would be confiscated.


          The Law of Political Parties also gives a compartmentalized view of society, in which “intermediary groups” must be functionally separate from the political parties. This provision, contained in Article 23 of the Constitution, is implemented by Article 18 of the Law of Political Parties, which states:


         ... no member of the armed forces, or of the public security or law enforcement agencies, officials and employees of the various levels of the judiciary, the Elections Board (Tribunal Calificador de Elecciones), the Electoral Service, or labor or guild leaders may be members of any political party.


          This same article provides that any members of a political party who become labor or trade union leaders automatically cease to be members of that party, and must swear an oath “on whether or not they were affiliated with a political party” when that happened. This sworn declaration opens the possibility to criminal charges for perjury as defined in Article 210 of the Criminal Code. The Law of Political Parties in Article 49 stipulates the penalties for those who violate Article 23 of the Constitution, that is, when political leaders take part in labor or trade union activities or when leaders of those “intermediary groups” engage in political activities.


          Regarding this point, the Episcopal Conference of Chile, in a declaration entitled “In the Service of Peace,” of August 13, 1987, states:


         The Episcopal Conference repeats what it has always requested of government authorities: that, for the good of peace and of reconciliation in the country, they study with representatives of the various political groups of the government and the opposition, the desirability of amending some articles of the 1980 Constitution that appear to impede such peace and reconciliation, such as the mechanism for the succession to the Presidency; the method of later reform of the Constitution; or certain articles especially discussed, such as Article 8 and Transitory Article 24.


          c. The special period in the 1980 Constitution, time frame and procedures.


          The 13th temporary Provision of the Constitution provides that the presidential term now under way will last the eight years stipulated in Article 25 of the permanent provisions. In light of the fact that the Constitution entered into force on March 11, 1981, the current presidential term extends to March 11, 1989, and President Pinochet is eligible for re-election.


          The system for succession is established by temporary Provisions 27, 28 and 29. According to Provision 27, the commanders in chief of the armed forces and the Director General of the Carabineros must unanimously nominate the person who will serve as president. This temporary Provision stipulates that, to make that nomination, the commanders and the Director General must meet “at least 90 days before the date on which the term of the current president ends,” that is, at least 90 days before March 11, 1989. If they cannot reach a unanimous decision, the National Security Council shall decide, this time by an absolute majority.


          Temporary Provision 27 also provides that the proposal of the Government Junta or the Security Council shall be submitted to a plebiscite. Under temporary Provision 28, if the citizens approve the nomination, the president shall take office on March 11, 1989 for the eight-year term provided for by the Constitution. In this case, the president-designate shall call for general elections of deputies and senators nine months after taking office.


          If the citizens reject the person nominated for president in the plebiscite, the 29th temporary Provision provides that the current presidential term will be extended automatically for one year. Ninety days before the expiration of that period, the president must call an election by direct vote of the president and of the parliament.


          As can be seen, the year in question is of fundamental importance for Chile’s political future as far as the exercise of political rights and the observance of human rights in general are concerned. In its 1|985 report on the status of human rights in Chile, the Commission set forth its serious reservations both on the national election of January 1978 and the plebiscite of 1980. That is why the Commission regards as positive the fact that voter registration has begun and large numbers of citizens are registering. The Commission hopes that this registration process will take place normally and that there will be no suspicions about its correctness.


          Also in light of previous experience and in accordance with human rights norms, the Commission must point out that the exercise of the right to vote must be included in a context favoring the authenticity of elections in which the free expression of the will of the voters is ensured, as Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights states.


          The Commission therefore hopes that this important period that is beginning will help to establish an atmosphere that will encourage citizens to make these important decisions. In this regard, it would be very useful for those taking part in the political process to avoid at all costs the use of violence and proscription, such as has been repeatedly requested by important sectors of Chilean society. In the Commission’s view, it is essential to break the vicious circle generated by the proscription and violence that threatens to distort the Chilean political scene.


          In the Commission’s view also, it is of basic importance that in the period before the scheduled election, the various political groups be given every guarantee and means to have their views expressed and accurately transmitted to the voters. Accordingly, the Commission regards as positive the steps taken by the Government to allow important opposition leaders to take part again in the country’s political life after their long exile.


          Based on these considerations, the Commission finds it important to reproduce the appropriate parts of the Declaration of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, entitled “In the Service of Peace.” This declaration, of August 13, 1987, refers to the basic conditions that, in its opinion, should prevail in the election to decide who will succeed the current president. In this connection, the declaration states:


          We believe the following statement is useful for the country:


         a)       We endorse and reiterate the call of our standing committee, at its meeting of June 10 of this year, to register to vote as soon as possible, in order to be able to participate in the decisions affecting the country’s future.


         b)       In order for the results of a plebiscite or election to have any moral authority, they must meet certain basic conditions:


         1.         The number of those who are able to vote must be sufficient for the election to be considered as a true expression of the national will;


         2.           All sectors of public opinion must have an equitable access to television and other mass media and to the various forms of political publicity, so voters will be able to cast their ballots on the basis of proper information;


         3.           The conditions under which votes are cast must exclude any possibility of pressure;


         4.           Votes must be cast and counted in such a way that the absolute correctness of the election returns can be checked by all.


          The Commission hopes that this appeal of the Chilean Episcopal Conference will be widely endorsed and that the difficult circumstances prevailing today in Chile will be overcome in order to achieve unrestricted observance of human rights under the representative democratic system, which, as has been repeatedly pointed out by the Commission and the General Assembly, constitutes the best guarantee for the observance of those rights.

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