Summary: Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemns Chile for use of antiterrorist legislation against the indigenous Mapuche people

29th July 2014: the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) today condemned the Chilean government for human rights violations against members of the indigenous Mapuche community in the case of Catriman Norin and others vs. Republic of Chile. SRT grantee FIDH represented five of the eight claimants in the case.

Following the return of democracy to Chile in 1990, the Mapuche were faced with repeated refusals by the Courts to recognise their land rights. Investment projects in forestry, hydroelectric installations, and roads were implemented without prior consultation and contributed to stripping the Mapuche of their land. Public protests organised by the Mapuche were criminalised by the authorities, who in some cases applied the Anti-Terrorist Act against Mapuche leaders and members.

The IACHR ruled that the conviction of the claimants for alleged terrorist acts was a violation of the principle of legality and the right to presumption of innocence. The Court also found that the convictions constituted a violation of the principles of equality and non-discrimination, as well as the right to defence and the right to appeal criminal convictions. As a result, the convictions were found to be arbitrary and incompatible with the American Convention.

Jimena Reyes, Head of FIDH’s Americas Office, said, “This decision recognises that it is illegal to criminalize the Mapuche’s quest for their ancestral land, and opens the path for conviction in other cases of criminalization of social protest throughout the continent, which is unfortunately widespread”.

Full story from FIDH’s website:

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