The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has urged Chile to reconsider releasing seven human rights offenders imprisoned for crimes committed during the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
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"The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expresses its concern over the decision of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Chile to grant conditional release to those convicted of serious human rights violations," the IACHR said in a statement.
Human rights organizations took to the streets two weeks ago after the Supreme Court granted conditional release to a group of former military agents, including soldiers Jose Quintanilla Fernandez, Hernan Portillo Aranda and Felipe Gonzalez Astorga, and police officer Manuel Perez Santillan, all convicted of crimes against humanity.
Their release was welcomed by the group’s legal defense, arguing that good behavior and the fact they had already served half of their sentence were sufficient reasons.
The IACHR called on the state to protect the victims’ families as well as consider the long-lasting effects such a decision would induce.
"The Inter-American human rights system has warned that the application of measures that diminish meaning or effectiveness to the penalties imposed on these types of crimes can lead to impunity for behaviors that States are obliged to prevent, eradicate and punish," the IACHR said.
"In five of the cases, when making this decision, the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court revoked the resolutions of the Court of Appeals of Santiago that had accepted the resolutions issued by the Parole Commission in April of this year.
"These resolutions, based on psychological reports made by the Gendarmerie, warn that the convicted have insufficient or nonexistent awareness of the crime and the damage caused as a result of that, or validate or justify their criminal behavior, among other aspects."
Democrat Deputy Mario Venegas, a member of the Human Rights Commission of the Lower House, said: "It is an issue that, in the case of crimes against humanity, the standards for granting conditional freedom should be much more demanding and, certainly, consider that there has been effective repentance."
The demonstrators protested in front of the court in Valparaiso on August 1, holding pictures of people forcibly disappeared during the military dictatorship headed by General Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).
During the 30-year dictatorship, 28,000 people were tortured, 200,000 were forcibly exiled, and another 3,197 people were killed, official reports say.