Chile: Machi Linconao acquitted but bias against Mapuches continues

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The FIDH and the WOAT [World Organization Against Torture], within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, have welcomed with satisfaction the acquittal of the human rights defender, the Machi Linconao, by the Criminal Verbal Court of Temuco in Chile, for the case of the Luchsinger Mackay deaths. Eight of the eleven accused were acquitted, including Linconao, but three of them have been found guilty.

However, the Observatory has expressed its deep concern about the way in which the court has described the actions of all the accused as terrorist activities and this description was included in the conviction of the three alleged murderers. This criminal concept has been used on repeated occasions selectively and inequitably against Mapuche people and this is discriminatory and unacceptable.

The situation of the Mapuche people and the defence of their native lands is a struggle that FIDH has made its own for several years. We must highlight the unprecedented victory of the action by Segundo Aniceto Norin Catriman and others against the Republic of Chile in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in which the FIDH was responsible for the legal defence of several of the Mapuche citizens.

Similarly, in recent years, the Observatory has organised multiple missions in situ to investigate and ascertain directly certain situations that have offended against the fundamental rights of the Machi Linconao and the other accused. It has also published numerous reports that recount the reality that they face and the responsibilities of the various perpetrators involved and it has issued recommendations with a view to reversing these scenarios.

The Observatory will follow the resolution of this case very carefully and will keep watch to ensure that guarantees are established so that similar cases of criminalisation are not repeated against those persons who are defending the Mapuche people, in the context of which the three Mapuches have been found guilty, and it will seek to ensure the absence of discrimination and full respect for and exercise of their rights.

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