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December 13, 2016

President Bachelet receives National Human Rights Institute’s annual report

The President expressed her appreciation for the document that “requires us to be prepared to realign our regulatory standards, our institutions and policies with the needs of an evolving history”, and to “prevent all abuse and ensure that the rights of every Chilean man and woman are effectively respected.”

The President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, along with Senate President Ricardo Lagos Weber, Chamber of Deputies President Osvaldo Andrade, and Supreme Court Justice Sergio Muñoz, this morning received the Annual Report of the National Human Rights Institute (INDH) from its director, Branislav Marelic.

During her speech, the President highlighted that “important steps have been taken, at the international level and in Chile, to advance towards the recognition and full protection of the fundamental rights of men, women, girls, boys and young people. However, we must speed up this advance and we can not close our eyes to the challenges still pending, nor to the new demands of a society increasingly aware of its rights.”

President Bachelet praised the work carried out by INDH, emphasizing that, “the report we have received here today, prepared year after year by the National Human Rights Institute, precisely fulfills this function, showing us, rigorously, the existing shortcomings and the areas that need improvement.”

The document recommends ratifying pending international human rights agreements, promoting a democratic and human rights culture, guaranteeing the equal exercise of rights across the nation, ensuring the influence of citizens on public decision making, incorporating a human rights and intercultural perspective in State measures, strengthening the institutionalism of human rights, ensuring the existence of decent pensions, and guaranteeing fair and human treatment of immigrants, among other issues.

She added that this report “requires us to be prepared to realign our regulatory standards, our institutions and policies with the needs of an evolving history”, and to “prevent all abuse and ensure that the rights of every Chilean man and woman are effectively respected.”

The President addressed the challenges that are still pending, stating, “we have seen, with pain and shame, that Chile’s institutions have not always been up to par, as occurred with the children whose rights were violated, isn’t that right? And as occurred with Lorenza Cayuhan, who said she suffered a humiliating experience when she gave birth. We have requested that this report be investigated in depth, so that the full truth be revealed, because we have the legal, but mainly ethical, obligation to ensure that no one suffers humiliating situations or harassment, and to identify and punish those responsible.”

Regarding this case, she added, “I have instructed the Human Rights Undersecretary to draw up a new Penitentiary Regulation with a focus on human rights, to treat with dignity not only women but all people who are deprived of their liberty.”

President Bachelet also highlighted the progress made by the Government in this area, such as the creation of the Human Rights Undersecretary, which will oversee the Inter-ministerial Committee on Human Rights entrusted with proposing a national policy on this topic. Once constituted, the Undersecretary will also oversee the Human Rights Program currently governed by the Interior and Public Security Ministry. Other advances by the government include the enactment of the law that classifies crimes of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, the submission of a bill that declares crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes as imprescriptible and ineligible for amnesty and the submission of bills to create the Childhood Advocate, the Undersecretary and a system to protect children, among others.

Moreover, she announced that over the next few months a bill will be submitted to create a National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture, to be governed by the National Human Rights Institute.

President Bachelet also reaffirmed “my Government’s willingness to submit a bill on migration that will update our regulation and reflect the current reality on migration, over the next few weeks.” She added, “today, more than ever, when we observe with increasing concern the resurgence of a simplistic and xenophobic rhetoric, we must renovate and strengthen the shared vision mentioned by Santa Cruz, on the unrestricted respect of the rights inherent to every human being regardless of gender, ethnicity, social origin or condition, in tune with the duties we all have in order to build a coexistence that is in harmony and respects the common good.”

In conclusion, President Bachelet emphasized that “being part of the commitment to the rights of every single person, without exception, is not only a commitment to our present, but also a responsibility to the future of Chile, to the project for progress that we believe in, and to our idea of humanism and humanity.”

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