translated from Spanish: OAS report criticizes “weak role” of public prosecutors in gathering evidence in cases associated with social outburst

An “assessment of Chile’s justice system in the face of human rights violations in the context of social protest” was carried out by the Center for Justice Studies of the Americas (CEJA) – an OAS agency. Among other aspects, there is talk of the weak role of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, setting as an example that after 14 months there are only defendants formalized in less than 1% of the causes.
Among the conclusions of the CEJA investigation is that the determining factors for the Public Prosecutor’s Office to initiate investigations of its own motion “have been media pressure or through social networks by citizens”. The study also points to widespread non-compliance with the principles of informality, opportunity and completeness in investigations of “serious human rights violations”. This was evident after verifying that only 178 of the 8,827 investigations in this area have been initiated ex officio by the prosecution.
CeJA argues that the public prosecutor’s failures would respond to “failure to comply with the obligation to initiate the investigation immediately, paying particular attention to the preservation of the crime scene”.
The CEJA states that there is a deficiency in the principle of completeness that is “notorious”, given “the weak role of the Public Prosecutor’s Office ensuring adequate collection of evidence at the crime scene”; among other elements.
The research carried out with the support of the Foundation for Due Process, the Center for Human Rights and the Legal Ombudsman of the University of Chile, is decisive. Nor is the assessment of “the obligation to conduct the investigation within a reasonable time” good either. “After 14 months,” he explains, “there are only defendants formalized in less than 1% of the causes.”

As a positive thing of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the study recognizes that there are good practices detected such as the establishment of extraordinary mechanisms for receiving complaints by victims or interlocution with civil society organizations, through the human rights unit of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
But, in addressing Carabineros’ performance, the rating drops dramatically. “One of the most critical elements in the functioning of the criminal justice system is the role that Carabineros of Chile has played, a body to which a large majority of the agents investigated for serious human rights violations belong (92.8% of the total complaints recorded by the prosecutor’s office)”.
The CEJA identified delays in the delivery of information requested by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, obstructions of investigations, misuse of disciplinary proceedings for delaying purposes or witness intimidation, which undermines the effectiveness of investigations led by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Original source in Spanish

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