UN mission to travel to Chile amid deadly protests

Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani

Santiago,  A UN mission will travel to Chile next week to investigate possible human rights violations in deadly protests that have swept the nation in recent days.

The protests in Chile initially came about as a reaction to metro fair hikes, escalating into violence with fires being set off and barricades being erected. At least 18 people have been killed and about 500 others have been injured, Efe news reported on Friday.

The team of three experts will arrive to the capital Santiago on October 28 and stay until November 22.

“The team will seek to meet with government officials, civil society representatives, victims, the national human rights institution and other stakeholders to collect first-hand information on the events,” spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ravina Shamdasani, told the media.

The official said the UN’s human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, a former Chilean President, decided to send in a team upon the request of a group of Chilean lawmakers, adding that the South American country’s government had also sent a formal invitation.

Shamdasani said the three experts would “also look into the root causes of the protests, including issues relating to the enjoyment of economic and social rights in Chile”.

The mission will visit several cities that have seen violent protests take place and work in conjunction with the OHCHR’s regional office, located in Santiago.

The experts will investigate reports about alleged violations of international norms on the use of force by security forces, as well as reports of crimes having been committed by third parties during the protests.

Bachelet announced the mission on Thursday in a Twitter post in which she said the decision had been made as a result of “having monitored the crisis in Chile since it began”.

She also said Chilean lawmakers and the government had “both expressed a desire for a UN Human Rights mission”.

It will be the second such mission that Bachelet will have deployed amid a wave of protests that have sprung up in Latin America in the past month over various causes – a trio of experts is already in Ecuador.