Friday, July 23, 2010

Bishops and human rights

The Chilean Conference of Bishops is asking the government to pardon members of the military who show repentance for human rights crimes during the dictatorship.

In their letter to Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, the bishops said that not all of those convicted of committing crimes under the rule of Gen Pinochet shared equal responsibility.
"In our view, a general pardon is as much out of the question as a blanket refusal to pardon any former member of the armed forces convicted," they wrote in their statement.

I don't really follow that logic.  Some committed worse crimes than others, but that means their punishments vary as well, not that some are pardoned and some are not.

More from the Catholic News Agency:

“We are simply presenting to the country’s leaders the painful reality experienced by many persons deprived of freedom who have been convicted and have completed most of their sentences,” they said.  “It is for them that we request, in this bicentennial, a gesture of clemency, as we have done in the past with other situations of great human suffering.”
The bishops said female prisoners with children, elderly prisoners, and terminally ill prisoners, should be among those considered in their request, with some having their sentences reduced, and others being freed if they no longer constitute a danger to society and have shown good behavior in prison.

This is not the first time the bicentennial has been brought up in this way--last month retired officers asked Sebastián Piñera to provide a blanket amnesty on that date.

I would mostly repeat what I wrote then, which is that Piñera has little to gain and much to lose from doing so, and likely little interest.  If he does, it will be an indication of the continued strong influence of both the Catholic Church and the military.


Randy Paul 9:06 PM  

Cardinal Silva must be spinning in his grave . . .

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