An additional 4,000 cases could be accepted and awarded compensation
The Chilean government is reopening its report on torture, which resulted in the registration and compensation of more than 28,000 cases from the Pinochet era, five years after its original assessment.
The government announced last week that, starting immediately following the run-off presidential election on Jan. 17, the National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture, also known as the Valech Commission, will begin collecting new cases for a six-month period.
More than 28,000 cases of political detention and torture were accepted during the commission’s original investigation in 2004 and 2005. Then-president Ricardo Lagos had ordered the eight-member commission, lead by Catholic Church leader Mons. Sergio Valech, to address the need for reparation. More than 35,000 people gave their written testimony of alleged torture during General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship — between Sept. 11, 1973 and March 10, 1990.
As a result, 28,459 cases were registered, with each victim receiving an average of $121,000 (US$239) in monthly pension.
Since the commission’s initial report, groups including Amnesty International Chile (Amnistia Chile) argued there was more work to be done and now applaud the reinstatement of the commission.
“Any further initiative that may lead to disclose truth, grant justice and provide reparation will be indeed welcomed,” Amnistia Chile’s executive director Sergio Laurenti told the Santiago Times this week. “We have continually [called] for the reopening of the commission, that in fact shall have a much longer period of action, in order to enable the community of those victims and their families to have a chance to present their cases for many years to come.”
“Among the many difficulties that the commission faced in the past were the limited time of operations, lack of adequate publicity (particularly abroad), lack of experience of interviewers and the long secrecy granted to the perpetrators,” added Laurenti.
Both the Valech report and The National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation Report (known as the Rettig report, which, in 1991, investigated cases of disappearance and death), have been attempts by the government to address human rights abuses occurring during the dictatorship.
But criticisms of the commissions arose after a few individuals were falsely listed as "disappeared" or tortured, thus giving their families access to government compensation. (ST, Jan. 4, 2009).
As the commission reunites later this month, it will be assessing new cases more strictly, it claims.
plus, the right wing candidate said he wanted to expidite "never ending" human rights trials.