May 27, 2004

Mapuche: Amnesty International report 2004

Extract of the Amnesty International report, concerning the Mapuche Human Rights situation
Indigenous people continued to press for reforms related to land and the upholding of their economic, social and cultural rights. There were further incidents between Mapuche indigenous people and the carabineros (uniformed police) in the context of land tenure and the commercial exploitation of timber in the south of the country. In the report of his visit to Chile in July, the UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous people underlined the marginalization of indigenous communities economically and socially as well as the criminalization of indigenous social protest movements through the use of "anti-terrorism" legislation. The Special Rapporteur recommended the judicial review of the case of two Mapuche community leaders.

Trial of Mapuche leaders

In March in the city of Angol, IX Region, the trial began of Segundo Aniceto Norín Catriman and Pascual Pichún Paillalao, both Mapuche community leaders, and of a Mapuche sympathizer, Patricia Troncoso. They were tried under an "anti-terrorism" law enacted during the military government on charges of "terrorist arson" and "threat of terrorist action". The court allowed evidence from two anonymous witnesses to be given from behind a screen with the voice distorted. All three defendants were acquitted of all charges owing to lack of evidence. However, an appeal against the verdict by the prosecution was accepted by the Supreme Court. After a retrial in September, the two men were acquitted of "terrorist arson" but were sentenced to five years and one day in prison for "terrorist threats". An appeal was lodged and rejected. Patricia Troncoso was acquitted of all charges.

AI country visits

In March an AI delegation visited Chile and collected human rights data, raised concerns with government officials and met representatives of the human rights community. It attended the opening of the trial of two Mapuche leaders and a sympathizer.