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e-2302 (Foreign affairs)

Initiated by Paola Ardiles from Vancouver, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • On October 18, 2019, in Chile, thousands of students engaged in protest against increases to transit fares, energy utility prices, and increasing inequality in their country;
  • This movement rapidly grew to include workers, professionals, union members, and citizens, and now includes demands for universal health care, living wages and pensions, access to public education, and an end to the Pinochet-era constitution of 1980;
  • From October 19 to 27, 2019, a state of emergency was declared in Chile, the military was deployed to the streets to enforce a curfew, and peaceful protests were repressed;
  • Since then, millions of people have protested and more than 6,362 Chilean nationals have been detained, including 2,381 wounded, 759 children and adolescents, and 346 legal actions have been brought against the government for homicide and other serious violations, including 246 reports of torture and 58 reports of sexual violence; and
  • The Government of Canada positions itself as a defender of human rights, the freedom of association, and claims to be working to reduce inequality globally.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Urge the Chilean government to end military and police repression and abuse of powers;
2. Urge Chilean authorities to investigate and punish all those who are responsible for the human rights violations, so that there is no impunity for crimes committed since the protests began;
3. Urge other nations to respect Chile’s sovereignty and ensure that military forces do not intervene in the country’s affairs.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Rob Oliphant

The Government of Canada is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights, a core element of Canada’s engagement in the Americas. The Government of Canada has carefully followed the human rights situation in Chile, including during the 2019 protests and period of social unrest.

The Government of Canada is aware that many Chilean citizens suffered grave injuries during the 2019 protests. These injuries, including ocular wounds, were as a result of the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials and were very concerning.

The Government of Canada has engaged directly with the Government of Chile regarding the social unrest, the Government’s response and the promotion and protection of human rights. Canada notes that the Government of Chile has taken steps to address the excessive use of force experienced during the social unrest, including through a commitment to a reform of the national police force (Carabineros). The Government of Canada also notes the efforts by Chilean prosecutors in their ongoing investigations of the human rights violations, and the disciplinary action and the expulsion of a number of police officers that have followed.

In response to concerns about the 2019 civil unrest, several international and domestic observation missions were conducted to investigate allegations of human rights violations. The observation missions included the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Chile’s National Institute for Human Rights, among others. Canada understands that the Government of Chile has received the reports from these international observations missions. Canada is aware that in their assessment and reports, none of the observation missions mentioned above concluded that human rights violations during the period of social unrest were systemic, planned, or ordered by the Government of Chile. Notwithstanding, Canada is aware that the reports confirmed excessive use of force on the part of law enforcement officials, most notably from the Carabineros police force, resulting in serious human rights violations across the country.

The Government of Canada will remain engaged with the Government of Chile as it addresses recommendations made in the international and national human rights reports and through its forthcoming process to draft a new Constitution. The Constitutional process is part of the Government of Chile’s response to citizens’ demands for change. It was encouraging to witness the peaceful exercise of democracy through the October 2020 plebiscite held in Chile and abroad, and the recent Constitutional Convention, regional governor, municipal and councillor elections held on May 15 -16, 2021. The elected Constitutional Convention is a historic first, with gender parity and 17 seats reserved for Indigenous representatives. The constituents will now have up to 12 months to redraft the Constitution.

Canada will remain engaged in the human rights situation in Chile, including by continuing to advocate regularly with the Chilean government, civil society and human rights defenders in Chile and Canada, and by collaborating with non-governmental organizations on projects and initiatives aligned with Government of Canada priorities, including the promotion and protection of human rights, diversity and inclusion.

Please be assured that the Government of Canada will continue to closely follow the situation in Chile.

Open for signature
December 10, 2019, at 4:16 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
January 9, 2020, at 4:16 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Jenny Kwan (Vancouver East)
April 15, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00805)
Government response tabled
May 31, 2021
Photo - Jenny Kwan
Vancouver East
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia