HRW calls for urgent police reform in Chile to address abuses

Human Rights Watch finds Chilean police committed ‘serious human rights violations’ during weeks-long unrest.

by Naomi Larsson

Chile must urgently reform its police force following grave human rights violations committed over more than five weeks of protests, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said.

A team from the rights group had been investigating allegations of abuses during a social and political crisis engulfing the country sparked by protests over inequality and repression.

The announcement on Tuesday bolsters a damning report from Amnesty International released last week, that found Chilean security forces had intentionally injured protesters in order to incite fear and discourage demonstrations.

“There are hundreds of worrying complaints about excessive use of force in the streets and abuses against detainees, including brutal beatings and sexual abuse, that should be promptly and thoroughly investigated to ensure victims’ access to justice,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, director for Americas of HRW.

HRW interviewed more than 70 people in Santiago and Valparaiso in November, including victims injured by pellets fired from shotguns or tear gas canisters at close range and victims of alleged sexual assault and torture in detention.