A panel of UN human rights experts on Tuesday urged Chile to make sure that people who have been convicted of enforced disappearances [AI backgrounder] serve their sentences [observations, in Spanish; press release]. The UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) [official website] stated that while Chile has made great strides since it transitioned to democracy, many challenges remain. While the WGEID praised Chile for combating human rights violations in recent years, it stated that Chile needs to do more to ensure that justice is served:
Very few of the convicted perpetrators are effectively serving a sentence, due to the low penalties imposed or other benefits granted. The Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance requires that acts of enforced disappearances are sanctioned in accordance with the gravity of the crime.The WGEID also called on Chile to speed up its judicial process and create a national plan to search for disappeared persons.
Disappearances [JURIST news archive] have been a prevalent legal issue in recent years. In October 2010 a Guatemalan judge sentenced two former national police officers to 40 years in prison for the 1984 forced disappearance of Fernando Garcia [JURIST report]. In June 2010 a Colombian judge issued a landmark judgment [JURIST report] against army colonel Luis Alfonso Plazas Vega for the forced disappearance of 11 people after the 1985 hostage situation at the Palace of Justice in Bogota, sentencing him to 30 years in prison. In November 2009 the Argentine Senate approved a law [JURIST report] that authorizes the government to obtain DNA samples from individuals suspected to have been born to forced disappearance victims of the 1976-1983 "Dirty War" [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. In September 2009 a Guatemalan paramilitary was convicted [JURIST report] and sentenced to 150 years in prison for the enforced disappearance of six indigenous persons during the Guatemalan civil war [GlobalSecurity backgrounder].