Aug 17, 2011

Mapuche: Case to Go Before the Inter-American Court on Human Rights

The conviction of two Mapuche leaders under the Pinochet-era antiterrorism law in 2003 will be reviewed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding claims of deprivation of liberty without due process.

Below is an article published by Indigenous News:

According to attorney Jaime Madariaga, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights will hear the case of Aniceto Norin and Pascual Pichún — two Mapuche leaders (lonkos) who were convicted of making terrorist threats under Chile’s Antiterrorism Law in 2003. According to the report, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights — which is part of the Organization of American States system — decided that the matter should go before the Court. Specifically, the case will be against the Chilean Government and the claim will be that Norin and Pichún were deprived of liberty without due process, which amounts to a denial of fundamental human rights.

The case against Norin and Pichún originally arose out of an incident that occurred on December 12, 2001 in which the men (along with a third Mapuche individual named Patricia Troncoso Robles) were accused of setting fire to a house and other property in the area of  Traiguén. The land in question is ancestral Mapuche territory, and demands had been made to return the land to the Mapuche people. The men were eventually charged under Chile’s Antiterrorism Law and subject to “faceless witnesses” (witnesses whose identities were not revealed, even at trial). Ultimately, the three men were acquitted on the charges of arson, but Norin and Pichún were convicted of committing terrorist threats and sentenced to five years in prison.

By the time the two men were sentenced on September 27, 2003, Norin had already spent approximately 21 months in prison and Pichún had already spent approximately 19 months in prison. Both men were denied release due to their prosecution under Chile’s Antiterrorism Law.

Changing the substance and use of the Antiterrorism Law is a major reason for going to the Inter-American Court, according to Madariaga. Specifically, Madariaga stated that there must be explicit condemnation of the practice of using “faceless witnesses” as well as of the Chilean government’s use of the Antiterrorism Law in a racially discriminatory manner.

Document for Download: Caso-12.576 (9-Agosto-2011)