Former President, Now UN Human Rights Chief, Sends Team to Chile Amid Unrest

Oct 25, 2019
9:17 AM

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in 2019. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)

BERLIN (AP) — The United Nations’ human rights chief is sending a three-member team to Chile to examine allegations related to security authorities’ use of force and reported crimes by others, her office said Friday.

At least 18 people have died in turmoil that has swept Chile, where unrest that began as a protest over an increase in subway fares has morphed into a larger movement over growing inequality. According to Chile’s human rights watchdog, more than 2,000 people have been detained and over 500 injured.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has decided to send three human rights officers to Chile from Oct. 28-Nov. 22 to examine allegations of violations, spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in Geneva. The mission will be based in Santiago but will visit other cities.

Shamdasani said Chilean lawmakers had called for her office to send a mission and the government also invited it. Bachelet is a two-time former Chilean president and the predecessor of current President Sebastián Piñera.

Most demonstrations have been peaceful, but instances of arson, looting and alleged brutality by security forces have shocked many in a nation known for relative stability. Piñera’s administration is struggling to contain the strife.

Shamdasani said Bachelet’s office “has received allegations of violations of international norms and standards relating to the use of force by state security forces. We have also received reports of crimes committed by third parties.”

The U.N. mission aims to meet government officials, representatives of civil society, the National Human Rights Institution and others, she said. As well as looking into alleged rights violations and measures taken by the government, it also “will also look into the root causes of the protests.”