Case Nos. 1689, 1735 and 1738 (Chile)

Case 1689, August 17, 1970, denouncing acts of torture and other abuse of political and common prisoners in Chile allegedly committed between 1967 and 1970. It was further reported that those events led 101 lawyers in Santiago, members of the national Bar Association, to enter a protest before the Supreme Court of Chile. Finally, the claimant requested and examination of his individual case, since he had been unjustly condemned to prison and was serving that sentence.

The Commission began considering this communication at its Twenty-fourth Session (October 1970), at which it decided to declare inadmissible the part of the claim that refers to the legal status of the claimant, in accordance with Article 39.b and c of its Regulations, and to postpone the examination of the part referring to the status of political and common prisoners in Chile until it received a copy of the statement submitted to the Supreme Court by members of the Bar Association in Santiago.

At its Twenty-fifth Session (March 1971), the Commission decided to make a direct request of the Government of Chile for a copy of the statement by the members of the Bar Association, following the procedure set forth in articles 42 and 44 of the Regulations. To that end, it addressed the government in note dated May 10, 1971.

At its Twenty-seventh Session (February-March 1972), the Commission decided to repeat its request to the Government of Chile for the information, granting a 90-day extension to the term established in Article 51 of the Regulations. Accordingly, it addressed the government in a note dated March 30, 1972. That extension period having expired and no reply having been received from the Government of Chile, the Commission decided at its Twenty-ninth Session (October 1972) in compliance with Article 51 of the Regulations, to presume the events denounced in the communication to be confirmed and to bear the case in mind when it prepared the annual report to the General Assembly of the Organization.

In a note dated December 27, 1972, the Government of Chile replied by stating, in short, that the various events constituting this case were under consideration by the Supreme Court, which had ordered several proceedings in a number of jurisdictions, the results of which would in due course be communicated to the Commission.

In a note dated January 12, 1973, that government did in fact transmit the main background information related to the case, together with a copy of the decisions handed down by the Chilean Supreme Court in response to the petition of the 101 Santiago lawyers members of the Bar Association) in order to reinforce the guarantee of the respect for human rights in the country.

The Commission examined Case 1689, together with the information provided by the Government of Chile, during its Thirtieth Session (April 1973) and appointed Dr. Robert Woodward as rapporteur, to study the extensive documentation furnished by the Chilean Government and to present such observations and recommendations as he deemed appropriate.

The rapporteur prepared a report (doc.23-30 res.) in which, after dealing with the background and processing, he recommended that the CIDH again address the Government of Chile to express its interest in the results of the measures adopted by the Supreme Court in response to the request of the members of the Bar Association on behalf of the observance of human rights in that country.

In accordance with that recommendation, the Commission decided at that session to send a note to the Government of Chile, through the Delegation to the Permanent Council of the OAS, expressing its interest in receiving from that government information on the progress made in improving and regularizing current practices in detention institutions, and also judicial and police practices, as indicated in a preliminary way in the aforementioned memorandum of the Chilean Supreme Court.

To that effect a communication dated April 24, 1973, was sent to the Chilean Ambassador to the OAS.

In a note dated August 13, 1973 (No. 573), the Government of Chile replied to the Commission's note through the Ambassador to the Permanent Council, stating that "the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is awaiting a reply from the Ministry of Justice in order to continue to provide fuller information on this matter."

At its Thirty first Session the Commission continued its examination of Case 1689 and, in view of the aforementioned note from the government concerned, decided to postpone its decision on the case until it received the information that had been offered.

Case 1735, February 28, 1972, in which a prisoner claimed that, on being taken from Santiago to a prison in the city of Antofagasta, he had been subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment, such as being placed in shackles and deprived of medical care (his leg was broken) and of food.

In a note dated March 29, 1972, the Commission requested the Government of Chile to provide the pertinent information, in accordance with articles 42 and 44 of its Regulations.

At its Twenty-ninth Session (October 1972), the Commission determined the status of the matter and decided to reiterate its March 29 request for information from the Government of Chile, noting that the period established by Article 51 of the Regulations had expired and granting a 60-day extension to that term. The Government of Chile was informed of this decision in a note dated November 1972.

In a note dated December 27, 1972, the Chilean Delegation to the OAS acknowledged receipt, stating that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile had not received the March 29 request for information, only the note of November 1, 1972. The Delegation therefore requested that the Commission send it the necessary background on this case, so that the Chilean authorities might initiate the appropriate procedure.

Acting on that request, the Secretariat, in a note dated January 5, 1973, transmitted background information on Case 1735 to that delegation.

In a note dated January 23, 1973, the Chilean Delegation to the OAS advised the Commission that it had been instructed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inform the CIDH that the Government of Chile "considered that, with regard to the aforementioned cases, the periods referred to in Article 51 of the Regulations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights could be calculated only from the date on which the Delegation received the pertinent background information, that date being January 8, 1973."

The Commission considered this case at its Thirtieth Session (April 1973) and, taking into account the request from the Government of Chile, decided (i) to postpone its examination of the case until its next regular session; and (ii) to send a note to that government, through its Delegation to the OAS, advising it of this decision. Accordingly, a note dated April 24, 1973, was sent to the Chilean Ambassador to the OAS.

Through its delegation to the OAS and by a note dated August 13, 1973, already summarized in connection with case 1689, the Government of Chile provided the following information:

"With regard to case 1735, submitted to the Commission by Mr. Jorge Parade Vera, the Ministry of Justice has informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of my country that Mr. Parada has brought no claim before the courts or the appropriate administrative authorities; therefore, by virtue of Article 54 of the CIDH Regulations and Article 9 (bis) of its Statute, as well as Article 46 of the American Convention on Human Rights approved in Costa Rica, it is improper to process the denunciations without verifying, as a condition precedent, whether the internal legal procedures and remedies of each member state have been duly applied and exhausted. In the case under consideration no remedy or procedure whatsoever has been applied."

At its Thirty-first Session (October 1973), the Commission continued its examination of the case and decided to advise the claimant of the aforementioned information. It decided also to add this case to the other one dealing with prison conditions in the Republic of Chile (Case 1689), in order to pass judgment on them together, once it received the information that the government of that country had, by the aforementioned note of August 13, 1973, offered in connection with Case 1689.

Pursuant to this decision, the claimant was sent a communication dated December 3, 1973.

Case 1738, March 13, 1972, denouncing the arbitrary arrest and torture of Dr. Juan Ossa Bulnes, a Chilean lawyer, allegedly by the Investigation Service of that country. A copy of the resolution adopted by the Chilean Bar Association with regard to this case was enclosed.

In a note dated March 29, 1972, the Commission requested the Government of Chile to provide the pertinent information, in accordance with articles 42 and 44 of its Regulations.

At its Twenty-ninth Session (October 1972), the Commission considered this case in the following context: (a) The Government of Chile had not replied to the March 29, 1972, request for information and the 130-day period stipulated in Article 51 of the Regulations had expired; (b) The denouncing organization had also approached the United Nations Commission on Human Rights; and (c) The legal recourse for protection of civil rights (recurso de amparo) instituted by the person concerned was pending.

With regard to the first point the Commission decided to again request the Government of Chile to provide the information, granting a 60-day extension to the period established in Article 51 of the Regulations.

As for the fact that the matter had been brought before the United Nations as well, it was believed that this did not exclude the competence of the Commission.

With regard to the exhaustion of internal legal remedies, the Commission decided to request the claimants to furnish information on the results of the pending proceeding for protection of civil rights.

In a note dated January 23, 1973, the Delegation of Chile to the OAS informed the Commission that the periods provided for in Article 51 of the Regulations, as applicable to cases 1735 and 1738, could be calculated only from the date on which the background information had been received by the Delegation, that is, January 8, 1973.

The Commission again considered this case, together with case 1735, at its Thirtieth Session (April 1973). It decided to postpone its examination until the next session and to send a note to the Government of Chile, through the Delegation to the OAS, advising it of this decision (aforementioned note of April 24, 1973).

In a note dated August 13, 1973, the Government of Chile, through its Delegation to the OAS, provided the following information:

"With regard to case 1738, that is, the denunciation submitted to the Commission by the Chilean Bar Association, the proceeding arising from the claim presented by Mr. Juan Luis Ossa Bulnes has resulted in a temporary stay. This case was entered as No. 39074 before the First Criminal Court of Rancagua, later being assigned No. 38974. The proceeding was initiated on February 2, 1972, and following the preliminary hearing a temporary stay of judgment was issued in accordance with articles 407 and 409 No. 1 of the Code at Criminal Procedure, i e., because of lack of conclusive evidence of the comndsaion of the alleged crime, and the record of the proceeding was filed without further action."

The Commission took cognizance of the foregoing information at its Thirty-first Session (October 1973). It decided to send the claimant the text of the note of August 13, 1973, from the Government of Chile, with a view to determining the status of the case before Chilean judicial authority, and to postpone its decision on the case until its next session.

Accordingly, the Commission addressed the Chilean Bar Association in a note dated December 3, 1973.