About the National Human Rights Institute

WHAT IS THE NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTE (INDH)?

The National Human Rights Institute (INDH) is a public body created by Law No. 20,405 aimed at promoting and protecting the human rights of all people living in Chile. Unlike other public institutions, the INDH is not under the authority of the Executive (President of the Republic), Legislative (National Congress), or Judicial (Courts of Justice). Although it is financed with public funds, it is autonomous and independent.

WHAT DOES THE INDH DO?

Law No. 20,405 that creates the INDH assigns it various functions, among which are:

  • Support the design and implementation of human rights training instances at all educational levels, including training processes and public officials’ training.
  • Organize activities to promote and disseminate human rights, among which are: The National Art and Human Rights Contest, the Tell Your Thesis on Human Rights Contest, the National Human Rights Award, among others.
  • File criminal actions in cases of genocide, crimes against humanity or war, torture, forced disappearance of persons, smuggling of migrants or human trafficking, and other types of legal actions in cases of human rights violations.
  • Carry out observation missions in situations of violation of rights. For example, the police function is monitored in public demonstrations and police stations; the rights of persons deprived of liberty in prisons; regions and localities are visited where problems occur that affect the communities’ rights.
  • Follow up, analyze, and support the legislative debate on bills related to human rights.
  • Prepare an annual report on the human rights situation in the country and other thematic studies and research.
  • Present complementary reports on human rights to specialized agencies of the United Nations and the Organization of American States (OAS).
  • Custody and preserve the records gathered by the Valech Commission I and II and the former Colonia Dignidad.
  • Address requests for legal and social guidance from citizens, as well as information requirements relevant to the INDH.

HOW IS INDH ORGANIZED?

To fulfill its functions, the INDH is organized through five units that perform the following functions:

  • Studies and Remembrance Unit, in charge of proposing the Annual Report’s contents on Human Rights in Chile and other relevant reports, research, and statistics to monitor compliance with and respect for human rights in Chile.
  • Unit for the Protection of Rights, Legislation and Justice, in charge of preparing proposals that promote the harmonization of national legislation, regulations and practices with international human rights treaties. It is also responsible for designing and executing a case management protocol to deduce legal actions and designing and executing a system for evaluating and legislative monitoring of bills.
  • Administration and Finance Unit, in charge of managing the Institute’s human, physical, financial, and IT resources management and proposing to the Director the creation of the institution’s annual budget.
  • Promotion, Education and Participation Unit, in charge of implementing a policy for the diffusion and promotion of knowledge of human rights, favoring the teaching at all levels of the educational system, including the training given within the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement and Public Safety, and to strengthen human rights training actions for State agencies.
  • Internal Audit Unit, in charge of proposing to the Council the Strategic Audit Plan, which will determine the general and permanent guidelines for Internal Auditing. Developing the annual audit report for the previous year and examining that the institution’s activities are carried out accordingly with the approved policies, plans, and programs. Proposing necessary corrective measures to the pertinent units. Also, it serves as a coordination unit between the INDH and the Comptroller General of the Republic.
  • People Unit, in charge of developing and executing a human resources policy; to implement preventive, corrective and continuous monitoring actions of the processes of the personnel in charge; to formulate proposals related to people, and to propose, design, execute and evaluate the tools aimed at generating managers and officials’ capability profiles.
  • Planning, Management Control, and ICT Unit, in charge of presenting to the Director, for approval by the Council, the strategic guidelines and directives of the Institute; to manage and monitor the Annual Institutional Work Plan. Verifying compliance with operational plans, management objectives, and institutional planning. Designing, implementing, and maintaining a system of continuous improvement of institutional processes.
  • Regional headquarters, in charge of preparing the Annual Report proposal regarding their region and promulgate it; to communicate the institutional opinion to the State, at the regional level, on situations related to human rights that occur within its territory. Requesting reports from regional State agencies on practical situations or actions in the field of human rights; to propose measures to favor their protection and promotion, and to take legal actions in the territory of their competence.

WHAT IS THE INDH DOCUMENTATION CENTER (CEDOC)?

It is a public access library specialized in human rights issues. It has a bibliographic collection for in-site consultation, which houses institutional, national, and international documents. The opening hours are from Monday to Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.; to visit the catalog of publications, click here. Likewise, CEDOC manages a digital library that allows the free download of digital documents. To consult the available publications, click here.

HOW CAN I WORK OR DO AN INTERNSHIP AT THE INDH?

If you want to work or do your internship at the INDH, click here to check if there are competitions or calls.

HOW CAN I BE AN OBSERVER OF THE POLICE FUNCTION IN THE PUBLIC DEMONSTRATIONS?

INDH officials carry out police observation missions in public demonstrations and police stations. This function is the sole responsibility of the people who work in the INDH. If you want to volunteer to be an observer, you can contact the organization “Human Rights Observers” who are part of the registry of organizations of the National Human Rights Institute and who are dedicated to monitoring the actions of the police force in public demonstrations. You can find out about this organization by clicking here.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE INDH TO BE AN INDEPENDENT AND AUTONOMOUS INSTITUTION?

Independence is the basis of the credibility and effectiveness of a national human rights institution. It guarantees that it will not be affected by pressure or influences from other State departments. To effectively carry out its functions, the INDH enjoys legal autonomy. It means it has its legal personality and formulates its internal regulations; operational autonomy, which allows it to establish its institutional priorities and activities independently; and budgetary autonomy to determine its expenses within the budget and assets it has. The autonomy, independence, and effectiveness of the INDH have been recognized at the international level. Since in 2012, it achieved its accreditation as an institution that fully complies with the United Nations Paris Principles, criteria that establish a reference framework to evaluate the operation and effectiveness of national human rights institutions in the fulfillment of their mandate.

WHO LEADS THE INDH?

The Institute is directed by a Council that is in charge of making the most relevant institutional decisions. This Council is made up of 11 people with recognized experience in human rights who are appointed for a period of six years. The members of the Council elect a director from among themselves and by an absolute majority, who has an exclusive dedication and is in charge of the executive direction, management, administration, and legal representation of the institution.

Currently, the Director of the INDH is Sergio Micco Aguayo, elected by the majority of the members of the Council, on July 29, 2019, for a period of three years. The members of the Council are:

To guarantee pluralism and diversity in the composition of the Council, its members are elected as follows:

  • Two councilors are appointed by the President of the Republic and must come from different country regions.
  • Two councilors are elected by the Senate.
  • Two councilors are elected by the Chamber of Deputies.
  • A councilor is appointed by the deans of the Faculties of Law of the universities of the Council of Rectors and of the autonomous universities.
  • Four councilors are elected by the Human Rights Defense Organizations that make up the National Human Rights Institute registry.

WHAT IS THE INDH'S CUSTOMER SERVICE HOURS?

In the Metropolitan Region, face-to-face customer service takes place on Mondays from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; and from Tuesday to Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Avenida Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins 1146 – Office 801 – Santiago Centro. You can also write to us through the Office of Information, Complaints, and Suggestions (OIRS) by clicking here or by calling +56 22 887 8865.

If you want information on the INDH headquarters in your region, click here.

IN WHAT CASES CAN THE INDH BEGIN LEGAL ACTION BEFORE THE COURTS OF JUSTICE?

The National Human Rights Institute is empowered by law to initiate criminal actions against acts that have the character of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity or war, torture, forced disappearance of persons, smuggling of migrants, or human trafficking. The INDH is also empowered to present legal actions (Amparo appeals, protection appeals, and amicus curiae) in emblematic cases of Human Rights violations. The INDH does not have the power to intervene in conflicts between individuals.

WHY DOES THE INDH OBSERVE PUBLIC DEMONSTRATIONS?

During the demonstrations, the INDH ensures that the Carabineros de Chile, as a State institution, fulfills its task of maintaining public order while respecting the participants’ right to rally, regardless of whether the protest march was previously authorized or not.

WHY DOESN'T THE INDH DEFEND THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF MEMBERS OF THE POLICE OR THE ARMED FORCES?

In accordance with its legal mandate, the INDH has the powers to protect all the inhabitants of Chile’s human rights against the actions of the State, which includes people who belong to the police and the Armed Forces.

If a member of the police or the Armed Forces considers that any of their human rights were violated as a consequence of the State’s action, the INDH will address their case and propose the appropriate courses of action.

However, the INDH does not have the power to act against the commission of common crimes.

Where to Get Orientation or Representation from a Lawyer?

CAN AN INDH LAWYER REPRESENT ME JUDICIALLY?

No, the INDH does not provide legal representation.

IF I NEED THE LEGAL ADVICE OF A LAWYER, WHERE CAN I GO?

You can contact the Judicial Assistance Corporation at 600 440 2000 or from cell phones at +56 22 362 8200. In regions, you can contact the Legal Offices of the Judicial Assistance Corporation. Click here for more information. In the Metropolitan Region, to access judicial representation in human rights violations and actions of public interest, contact the Human Rights Unit of the Metropolitan Region Judicial Assistance Corporation, located at Agustinas 1419, 2nd floor, Santiago. You can also request legal guidance at the Legal Clinics of the following universities: Alberto Hurtado University, Andrés Bello University, Bernardo O’Higgins University, Silva Henríquez Catholic University, Central University University of Chile, University of the Andes, University of Development, and Diego Portales University. To contact these legal clinics, click here.

Repair Benefits for Victims and Relatives of Human Rights Violations in Dictatorship

WHO CAN ACCESS REPAIR BENEFITS?

Based on Law No. 19,123 and the amendments included in Law No. 19,980, the next of kin of victims classified as detained, disappeared, and politically executed have access to repair benefits within the framework of human rights violations between September 11, 1973 and March 10, 1990. Law No. 19,234 on Political Exemptions grants social security and health benefits to persons exonerated for political reasons or act of authority between September 11, 1973 and March 10, 1990. Law No. 19,992 grants a repair pension and other benefits to persons recognized as victims by the National Commission on Political Prison and Torture and are individualized in the annex “List of Political Prisoners and Tortured.” These benefits are extended to victims qualified by the so-called Valech Commission I and II.

WHERE CAN THE REPAIR BENEFITS BE REQUESTED?

The delivery of the repair benefits was assigned to each of the competent State departments:

  • The bonus and repair pensions are requested at the Social Security Institute. For more information, click here or call 600 440 0040. You can also consult the ChileAtiende office closest to your home.
  • Study grants are requested at the Ministry of Education. Click here for more information.
  • The housing application benefit is processed at the Ministry of Housing. Click here for more information.
  • To access free health care in the public system, you must contact the PRAIS team corresponding to the Health Service of your home. The list of PRAIS offices is available here.
  • To be exempted from Military Service, the beneficiary relatives must process it in the Recruitment Canton closest to their home. Click here for more information.

For more information, review the Informative Booklet Benefits established by law for victims and relatives of violations during the dictatorship.

I AM QUALIFIED AS A BENEFICIARY BY THE VALECH COMMISSION, AND I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO APPLY FOR THE REPAIR PENSION FROM ABROAD.

You must click the following link through the Internet and complete the form. Subsequently, you must take the printed form to the Consulate of Chile and your identification, where it will be authenticated by the consul or the authorized official and later sent to Dicoex for dispatch to the Social Security Institute (IPS). The holder of the benefit must carry out this procedure in person at the Consulate or the Consular Section of the respective Chilean Embassy. They must sign the corresponding application, even if they have previously entered it on the IPS website. It is also useful for the requesting person to indicate a telephone number, or preferably an updated email, to contact them if there is a need for coordination. Once the document arrives in Chile, it is sent to the Social Security Institute (IPS), an entity that contacts the beneficiary to agree on the payment method. The estimated time is three months to start receiving the benefit, as long as you are not a beneficiary of a Non-Contributory Pension (PNC), in which case the respective option is evaluated.

WHERE CAN I OBTAIN A CERTIFICATE OF PARTICIPATION IN THE RETTIG OR VALECH COMMISSIONS QUALIFICATION PROCESS?

If the victim or their relatives have provided testimony and / or documentation in the Valech I and Valech II Commissions, but were not qualified, they can request a certificate from the INDH to accredit their participation in said instance in the INDH by clicking here or by calling +56 22 887 8650. In the case of victims classified by Valech Commission I and II, the official source is the roster that can be consulted by clicking here. For this reason, no government agency should require additional proof. If this documentation is still required, you can request a certificate from the INDH through the web form of the Office of Information, Claims, and Suggestions (OIRS) by clicking here or by calling +56 22 887 8650. If documentation has been submitted for the Rettig Commission, you can request a certificate that accredits the participant in said instance to the Human Rights Program, by calling +56 22 248 6350 or visiting the Program offices located in Agustinas 1235, 3rd floor, Santiago.

CAN I DELIVER MY BACKGROUND TO BE QUALIFIED AS A VICTIM OF VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN DICTATORSHIP?

The INDH does not carry out the qualification processes. It is currently not possible to be qualified for repair benefits since the qualifying commissions are closed. The last one was closed in 2011 when the list of people classified as victims of political imprisonment and torture was published. To date, no new processes have been opened.

HOW CAN I OBTAIN THE INFORMATION OR BACKGROUND OF THE COLONIA DIGNIDAD FILES?

The National Human Rights Institute is working on systematizing the information contained in the investigation files “Asociación Ilícita ex Colonia Dignidad.” It will publicly release its results when it is completed. Regarding these files, the information they contain is provided at the victims’ request or their next of kin. To request this information, go to the web form of the Office of Information, Claims, and Suggestions by clicking here.

HOW CAN I KNOW IF I WAS QUALIFIED AS A BENEFICIARY BY THE VALECH COMMISSION?

To check if you are among the persons classified as victims of political imprisonment and torture, you can click here to find the list of the persons qualified by the Valech Commission I and II.

I AM A PERSON QUALIFIED AS POLITICAL EXONERATED; WHERE CAN I CONSULT FOR MY REPAIR BENEFITS?

To inquire about your benefits, contact the Office of Exonerated Persons from the Human Rights Program of the Ministry of the Interior, located at Agustinas 1235, 3rd floor, Santiago de Chile. You can also consult their website by clicking here or call +56 22 486 3506.

IS THE DEPOSIT OF THE REPAIR PENSION MADE IN ANY BANK?

The Social Security Institute (IPS) can deposit in any bank in the world, in the benefit holder’s account. It is important in the case of people who choose to deposit in an account abroad; they send a digital copy of the bank document or certificate from the bank where they are the account holder. This document must contain the following information:

  • Full name of the account holder
  • Name of the bank
  • Bank branch, agency, or office
  • Swift Code, which identifies each bank internationally.
  • Account number
  • Account number for electronic funds transfer, according to international standards.

For more information on repair laws, click here or call 600 440 0040,

WHERE CAN I APPLY FOR THE VALECH QUALIFICATION CERTIFICATE THAT IS REQUESTED IN THE RECRUITMENT CANTON?

To verify whether a person was classified as a victim of political imprisonment and torture, the official source is the Valech Commission I and II roster that can be consulted by clicking here. For this reason, no government agency should require additional proof. If this documentation is still required, you can request a certificate at the National Human Rights Institute by clicking here or by calling +56 22 887 8650.

CAN I REQUEST THE DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE QUALIFICATION PROCESS?

The INDH keeps the archives of the Valech I and Valech II Commission, which by law have the character of secrecy for 50 years. However, with the aim of advancing the State in fulfilling its obligation to guarantee truth and justice, the INDH Council decided to deliver to the applicant holders –qualified and unqualified– all the documents contained in the work folders, including those generated by the commissions, being careful not to violate the rights of third-party victims and declarants.

For more information on ways to access Valech documentation click here.

CAN THE INDH PROMOTE LEGAL ACTION FOR ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES OR TORTURE PERPETRATED BY STATE AGENTS DURING THE DICTATORSHIP?

The National Human Rights Institute can initiate criminal actions against events that have the character of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity or war, torture, forced disappearance of persons, smuggling of migrants, or human trafficking that occurred after its creation in December 2009. Therefore, the INDH cannot take legal action in cases of Human Rights violations during the dictatorship. If you are a relative of detained persons who have disappeared or political executed classified as victims of human rights violations by the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission and by its successor, the National Corporation for Reparation and Reconciliation, you can request legal assistance in the Human Rights Program from the Ministry of the Interior. This agency has the power to exercise all the legal actions that are necessary for the fulfillment of its function, including the filing of complaints in cases of kidnapping or forced disappearance and murder or summary execution. The Program is located at Agustinas 1235, 3rd floor, Santiago, and the contact telephone number is +56 22 486 3506.

Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty

WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS DEPRIVED OF FREEDOM?

Persons deprived of liberty, whether as defendants or convicted persons, retain all their fundamental rights, except for those lost as a consequence of the deprivation of liberty. Persons deprived of liberty have the right not to be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; to health; to education; to work; to recreation; to a dignified treatment and without discrimination; and to all the rights whose exercise is not incompatible with the deprivation of liberty. For more information, check the information booklet “Rights of persons deprived of liberty.”

IF I AM A FOREIGNER AND ACCUSED, DO I HAVE THE RIGHT TO A LAWYER DEFENDER?

Yes, foreigners have the right to defense, just like Chilean citizens. If you require it, the Public Criminal Defense Office will provide you with a defense lawyer to assist you legally in criminal proceedings and extraditions, and in the processes of expulsion and leaving the country, when this is the consequence of a criminal process. To contact the closest office of the Criminal Defense Office, click here.

HOW SHOULD WOMEN DEPRIVED OF FREEDOM BE TREATED?

Women deprived of liberty have the same rights as the rest of the prison population. Since women are a minority of persons deprived of liberty, they are a particularly vulnerable group; therefore, it is necessary to ensure that their rights and needs are not overlooked. The female inmates must be housed in separate premises from the male inmates and be monitored and registered exclusively by female officials. Likewise, they must have access to education programs and have sufficient levels of flexibility in the face of the requirements of pregnant women, nursing mothers, and mothers with children, having to have the infrastructure, services, and appropriate programs for this population. Where there are mixed penal units, the women’s section must be in charge of a female official. The male staff must enter said sections accompanied by a female member, and in no case may they enter without the female official’s company. In mixed establishments, the women’s section will be under the direction of a female official, who will have custody of all the keys to said section of the establishment. For more information, click here.

DO I HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREE DEFENSE FROM A LAWYER IF I AM CONDEMNED AND DEPRIVED OF FREEDOM?

Yes. The Penitentiary Defense of the Public Criminal Defense Office is aimed at the defense of adult persons sentenced under the criminal procedure reform who are confined in a penal institution administered by the Chilean Gendarmerie. The prison defense service begins from the completion of the sentence until its complete execution. The objective is to protect the interests, guarantees, and rights of the convicted person. The Public Criminal Defense Office can advise you in the following situations:

  • Exit permits (Sunday, weekend, daily).
  • Conditional freedom.
  • Sentence reduction (“months per year”).
  • Pre-trial detention passes.
  • Unification of penalties (“encompasses”).
  • Transfers inside and outside the country.
  • Punishments claims.
  • Medical assistance.

To contact the closest office of the Criminal Defense Office, click here.

IS THE ABUSE OR PUNISHMENT OF PERSONS DEPRIVED OF FREEDOM ACCEPTABLE?

No, the rights of persons deprived of liberty must be respected. Torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment are prohibited, and no exceptions are allowed. Torture is an act carried out intentionally by a State official that causes severe physical or mental suffering and is committed for intimidation, punishment, or any other purpose. Gendarmerie officials, in the process of detention and custody of persons deprived of liberty, do not have legal powers that allow them to beat, threaten, or offend those who are deprived of liberty. Those who carry out these behaviors are committing crimes that must be investigated and sanctioned by the State. Similarly, confinement in an isolation cell must be eliminated as a disciplinary sanction.

WHAT HAPPENS TO WOMEN WITH CHILDREN WITHIN PRISON ESTABLISHMENTS?

Under the principle of protection and development of the child’s rights, the State provides the conditions to maintain contact between inmate mothers and their children, taking into account that it is a fundamental affective relationship for the development of children during their first years of life. Thus, there must be adequate spaces and conditions for the care of children under two years of age in female prisons. In those places where these centers do not exist, the inmates will remain in separate units from the rest of the prison population, without prejudice, to join in joint activities with the male prison population. It should be noted that the admission and permanence of the child with his / her mother in prisons must respond to a measure of last resort, which is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and which is focused on promoting the best interests of the child.