The Inter-American Court of Human Rights hears Chilean state over reduction of sentences for dictatorship crimes

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Karinna Fernández

San José, Costa Rica, 1 February, 2023. On 1 February 2023, the hearing of the Vega González and others v. Chile case will be held at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in San José, Costa Rica. The case concerns the international responsibility of Chile in the application of sentence reduction measures to perpetrators of crimes against humanity for crimes committed during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile.

The case refers to 14 criminal proceedings concerning executions, forced disappearances and crimes against humanity, perpetrated against 49 victims in the context of the Chilean civil-military dictatorship. In these cases, the Chilean Supreme Court of Justice applied the "half statute of limitations" between 2007 and 2010, which allowed it to drastically reduce the sentences and allow most of the perpetrators to go free. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) must determine whether the State of Chile complied with its obligation to adequately and proportionately punish those responsible for crimes against humanity by applying the legal figure of the "half statute of limitations".

The victims’ representatives argue that it is of utmost importance to rescue the value of justice for the families of the victims, in the context of a transition pact that did not consider the investigation and punishment of those responsible as a duty of the Chilean State. "We, the victims, have been seeking truth and justice for our disappeared detained relatives for decades. We ask and demand the corresponding punishment for crimes that continue to affect us to this day, which meant the loss of our loved ones," said Gaby Rivera Sanchez, president of the Agrupación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos (AFDD).

"Next year it will be 50 years since the military coup in Chile. It is time for the families of victims to have full justice"

Alicia Lira Matus, president of the Agrupación de Familiares de Ejecutados Políticos

Karinna Fernández Neira, Magdalena Garcés Fuentes and Jimena Reyes, represent the victims before the Inter-American Court. The hearing will be visible through the social networks of the Inter-American Court and on the channel of the Judiciary of Chile.

"A proportional and just punishment is essential for the non-repetition of crimes against humanity in Chile and the region"

Jimena Reyes, FIDH's Director for the Americas


This case concerns the following victims, disappeared or executed during the dictatorship, whose legal cases gave rise to the Supreme Court rulings denounced in this case (in Spanish only):

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