Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Human rights in Chile

Here’s a story you don’t see every day. The Chilean government has announced an amnesty for the estimated 20,000 illegal immigrants in the country, mostly Peruvians, but also a sizeable number of Bolivians and a scattering from other countries.

We can juxtapose that with the release of a report last month on human rights from the Universidad Diego Portales. Patricio Navia has an analysis of it here, reasonably arguing that if Chile really is a democracy then it needs to take human rights more seriously than ever before. The report has eleven themed chapters: jail conditions, freedom of expression, impunity and human rights of the past, access to family courts (e.g. to deal with domestic violence), the environment, juveniles in the justice system, rights of sexual minorities, immigrants and refugees, the handicapped, and rights of the indigenous (readers may remember, for example, that Ricardo Lagos used a Pinochet-era anti-terrorism law against the Mapuche a few years ago).

These are obviously huge, long-standing problems but will serve in part to show the problems Michelle Bachelet has had in addressing them, since she has really emphasized these sorts of issues. I am awaiting the latest round of polling numbers to see if she has bottomed out yet.


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