Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Chile: Exploiting Cases of 'False Disappeared' for Political Gain

"There are thousands of accredited cases of people killed, tortured and ‘disappeared’ (during the regime). If four errors were made, that’s nothing," retired judge Juan Guzmán, who is now director of the Human Rights Centre at the private Central University, told IPS.

In his view, the news of the mistakes is being blown out of proportion with the objective of "politically smearing" everyone who has taken part in the search for the truth about what happened to the victims of forced disappearance, and in the effort to bring their torturers and killers to justice.

... Congress will continue to debate a controversial bill that would create the Human Rights Institute, which would consider the reopening of the truth commissions for a six-month period to review cases of victims of forced disappearance and political prisoners who were not taken into account by the two commissions.

However, the commissions would not review cases that have already been accredited, said Vidal.

Mireyra Garcia from the Group of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared stressed,
"It is good to have transparency with respect to errors, we have no problems with that," she said. "But we believe these isolated cases are being magnified to the detriment of the hundreds of cases that have not yet been certified.

"What is truly scandalous is that 35 years after the military coup, we still have not found the detained-disappeared. That is a source of constant concern for us," said the activist.

Murmurings from the right:
"The governments of the Coalition, and in particular the left wing of the Coalition, have always tried to use human rights issues in some kind of biased manner during election campaigns to generate division in our country," said Independent Democratic Union (UDI) legislator Felipe Salaberry.

National Renewal lawmaker Lily Pérez said the truth commissions "gave official recognition to the human rights violations committed in our country" and "provided reparations to victims or their families," which means that "reopening the two commissions would imply questioning the way they operated and would undermine their importance to our peaceful national coexistence."

This last comment may appear innocuous and supportive of the human rights processes, but it's actually a version of the "move on, it's all over, let's just forget about it" school of thought.

Full article:
False Disappearances Trigger Debate on Truth Commissions (IPS)

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