Chile and Buenos Aires, July 30, 2014 - The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court) publicly announced its decision on May 29, 2014, on the case of Norín Catrimán et al. Víctor Ancalaf Llaupe, one of the case’s victims, indigenous leader and Werkén of his community, was represented by the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) and attorney Sergio Fuenzalida.
This is the Inter-American Court’s first decision in which it condemns Chile for human rights violations committed against members of the Mapuche community. In accordance with its Judgment, the Court considered that applying the term “terrorist” to indigenous leaders violated the presumption of innocence and the state obligation to define criminal conduct with precision and clarity.
Likewise, the Court considered that the judicial decisions that condemned the victims contained discriminatory prejudices against the Mapuche community, violating the principle of equality and non-discrimination.
Liliana Tojo, CEJIL program director for Bolivia and the Southern Cone noted that, “the sentence analyzes the cases submitted before the international Tribunal within the context of the struggle of the Mapuche for their ancestral rights, evidencing that the application of the Antiterrorist Law constitutes an inadequate response by the State before mobilization and social disapproval...”
The IA Court considers the use of witnesses with non-disclosed identities in these cases to be incompatible with the American Convention and ordered Chile to clearly and securely regulate the use of this exceptional measure of evidence. The Court also held the State responsible for the lack of incentive in adopting and maintaining pre-trial detention by the Judicial Power, as well as for the lack of consideration with respect to the characteristics of the indigenous communities at the time in which the measures of deprivation of liberty were ordered.
The judgment orders Chile to give a comprehensive reparation to the victims, regulate the use of witnesses with non-disclosed identity, and in light of the new drafting of the Antiterrorist Law, it recommended the State to revise the legislation to take into account the ideas of international bodies and experts on the subject to ensure its harmony with the obligations imposed by international law.
In the words of Viviana Krsticevic, CEJIL’s Executive Director, “the IA Court’s judgment in the case of Norín Catrimán et al. is of great significance for the Americas in the way that it establishes clear limits on the use of antiterrorist legislation to address social protests, demonstrations and complaints made by indigenous communities.”
Background of the case:
In 2002, a criminal process was opened against the Werkén Víctor Ancalaf, marked by irregularities, in which the Antiterrorist Law was applied, condemning him as a perpetrator of terrorist offenses. In this case, the State violated guarantees of due process, as he was condemned based on the use of witnesses with non-disclosed identity, and based on discriminatory criteria for being Mapuche. Additionally, the victim was deprived of freedom in an excessive manner that violated the minimal standards of pre-trial detention.
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Soledad Sandoval Lizana
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Access to case documents:
IA Court’s complete Judgment
Hearing before the IA Court conducted: May 29 and 30