9 September 1985
Original:  Spanish


c.          Objectives of Torture


42.          When the practice of torture is widespread in a State, certain basic objectives are assigned to it: to obtain information either about common crimes or about persons or organizations the State considers a threat to its security.  With respect to the last-mentioned aspect, the practice of torture also seeks in many cases to obtain the collaboration of persons belonging to those organizations so as to infiltrate them and possibly destroy them or simply to obtain self-incriminating confessions.  The above-mentioned definition also includes the consideration of torture as a form of punishment and incorporates an extremely important aspect, namely the objective of intimidating individuals or groups.


43.          With respect to the last-mentioned aspect it may be stated that selective torture, when applied to specified social sectors or political groups, also has an immediate objective, which is that of creating a widespread state of insecurity and terror in the population and, by that means, of dissuading possible sympathizers or apolitical individuals from maintaining any type of personal relationship with anyone who is suspected of having been a victim of torture or who may compromise them in some way that may provoke that type of treatment.


44.          The Commission has found one or more of these objectives in the abundant material it has collected.


45.          Thus, in the case of the student, Miguel Angel Rojas Abarca, about whom the IACHR adopted a resolution, [6] the purpose of the arrest made on November 7, 1979 by CNI personnel was to obtain information about the activities of a third person, for which purpose physical violence was used against the person affected.  In addition, Raul Ramon Lopez Peralta was tortured after his arrest on August 15, 1979, the purpose being to obtain information as to the whereabouts of weapons.  [7]


46.          Recently--February 1985--the Commission learned facts connected with Case No 2,126 on the status of Mr. Contreras Maluje.  According to the sworn declaration of Andres Antonio Valenzuela Morales, a former agent of the security services of the Air Force [8], Mr. Contreras Maluje had been arrested and tortured for the purposes of obtaining information about the Communist Party of Chile, of which he was a member.  [9]


47.          The Chilean and international organizations for the defense of human rights found that an objective of torture is to obtain information about subversive organizations.


48.          Furthermore, it should be pointed out that the above-mentioned objective is consistent with the accusations that are then made against prisoners that have been subjected to torture, who as a rule are brought before courts on charges of possession of weapons or explosives, illegal association under the legal provisions prohibiting political or terrorist activities.  In addition, it is on these charges that the persons affected may be arrested without being brought before a judge for a period of up to twenty days. [10]


49.          Also consistent with the objective of obtaining information about political activities through torture is the fact that the institutions most frequently mentioned by the victims have been the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) and its present successor, the National Intelligence Agency (CNI).


50.          In this regard, it should be pointed out that Decree Law No. 521 of June 18, 1974, established DINA as a “technical-professional military agency” whose purpose is “to gather all information at the national level, arising from different fields of activity, for the purpose of producing the intelligence required for the formulation of policies, plans and for the adoption of measures for safeguarding national security and the development of the country”.


51.          For its part, Decree Law No 1,878 of August 13, 1977 established the CNI also as “a technical-professional specialized military agency whose purpose will be to gather and process all information at the national level arising from different fields of activity that the Supreme Government requires for the formulation of policies, plans, and programs; the adoption of measures necessary for safeguarding national security, and the normal conduct of national activities and maintenance of the established institutional system”.  However, recently complaints containing accounts of torture inflicted by other security bodies such as the Plain Clothes Police Department (Investigaciones) and the Carabineros have increased. [11]


52.          In other cases, and in accordance with the signs revealed on the bodies, it is reasonable to believe that the purpose of torture has been to inflict a punishment on the person who has engaged in activities considered to be a danger to the Government.


53.          This would also appear to be the objective of torture inflicted by members of Carabineros, when it is applied to persons arrested on the occasion of public demonstrations against the Government.  The case of Mr. Juan Antonio Aguirre Ballesteros, mentioned in the chapter on the right to life, is a clear indicator of this situation.


54.          When torture is practiced for the above-mentioned purposes, its practice necessarily becomes systematic, which calls for legal, institutional, human, and material resources; a complete system is generated around torture, which takes on precise institutional characteristics.


55.          To the means of transportation required for the arrest of the victims must be added the various implements used in inflicting torture and especially detention centers that are secret or inaccessible to relatives or defense counsel. With respect to the means of transportation, mention should be made, as an example, of the fact that in the kidnapping of Mr. Contreras Maluje a light blue Fiat 125 car, license plate EG-388, belonging to the Chilean Treasury and assigned to the Director of Intelligence of the General Staff of the Air Force, was identified, according to the respective judicial record.  The secret or clandestine centers will be examined in the chapter on the right to personal liberty; for the time being it is sufficient to state that the existence of this type of center in Chile is a proven fact.


56.          The Commission deems it necessary to refer in detail to a specific aspect connected with the assignment of human resources to the practice of torture, which is the participation of physicians.


d.          The Participation of Physicians in Torture


57.          The condemnable participation of physicians in torture is specifically prohibited both by the principles of the Hippocratic Oath required of physicians as well as by the corresponding penal provisions of the Chilean legal system.  In addition, the “Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, especially Physicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment” that were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 18, 1982, state, in Principle No 2, that:


It is a gross contravention of medical ethics, as well as an offence under applicable international instruments, for health personnel, in particular physicians, to engage actively or passively in acts which constitute participation in, complicity in, incitement to or attempts to commit torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


58.          For its part, Principle No 4 stipulates that:


It is a contravention of medical ethics for health personnel, particularly physicians:


a. To apply their knowledge and skills in order to assist in the interrogation of prisoners and detainees in a manner that may adversely affect the physical or mental health or condition of such prisoners or detainees and which is not in accordance with the relevant international instruments;


b. To certify, or to participate in the certification of, the fitness of prisoners or detainees for any form of treatment or punishment that may adversely affect their physical or mental



Health and which is not in accordance with the relevant international instruments, or to participate in any way in the infliction of any such punishment that is not in accordance with the relevant international instruments.


59.          The Commission has considerable information about the participation of physicians in torture sessions inflicted by Chilean security agencies; it has also received convincing testimony from senior authorities of the Chilean Medical Association on that situation. [12]


60.          It is not, of course, the practice of medicine in the case provided for in Supreme Decree No. 187 of 1976, mentioned in section B of this chapter, that, as will be recalled, requires prisoners to be medically examined both on entering a detention center and on leaving it. The participation complained of is different and has taken various forms.


61.          The most easily identifiable situation is the participation of medical personnel as accessories after the fact, in acts of torture through the issuance of certificates of good health of the persons arrested when they leave the detention center to be brought before a judge.


62.          A case in point this regard is the medical certificate issued in the case of Mr. Federico Alvarez Santibañez, according to which the victim was in good health at 1:30 p.m. on August 20, 1979, when he left the CNI barracks and in a extremely serious clinical state six hours later when he entered the infirmary of the penitentiary, which state led to the death of the victim in the early hours of the following day. [13]


63.          Another case in point is the certificate issued by the CNI physician on June 8, 1981, stating as the only observation that Mr. Sergio S. Godoy Fritis was clinically sound. When the person affected was examined by a physician of the Medical-Legal Institute on June 18, 1981, by order of the court, the physician found:


1.  Superficial scars of 2.5-3cm, caused by burns on both ankles, which would be due to poles of application of electric current.


2.  A bruise on the back.


3.  A scar on the interior edge of the lower lip.


4.  Have tension headaches.


They are injuries most probably produced by an attack by third parties, from which he will probably require about eight to ten days to recover and during which period he will be incapacitated.


64.          Many witnesses report another form of participation of physicians in the torture session, in the form of checkups of vital functions in order to set the limits within which the victim can resist the torture inflicted or to assist them once they suffer disorders resulting from the torture.  This follows, for example, from the complaints presented by three students of the Catholic University of Valparaiso, arrested in the early days of April 1984, who remained for four days in a CNI building and were then brought before the courts and accused of possession of weapons and explosives.


65.          Another form of participation of medical personnel in interrogation consists in the administration of non-therapeutic drugs and the practice of hypnosis. Thus, Luis Navarro Vega, a former photographer of the Vicaria de la Solidaridad of the Archdiocese of Santiago, relates that:


… on March 14 and 15 (1981) the CNI officials subjected me to a treatment that was directed by a person who I believe was a physician ... As a result of the treatment I have mentioned, I felt a loss of control over my person, a sensation of relaxation and of intense exhaustion.  After feeling great lassitude and a weight on the legs and the arms I lost consciousness. At that time I was submitted to hypnosis. I have some notions that I was submitted to an interrogation while I was in a state of unconsciousness.


66.          Chilean newspapers have collected statements from Ms Luisa Araneva, who stated that, in addition to being mistreated and threatened, she was hypnotized to make her become a collaborator of the security services. [14]


67.          The judicial complaint for torture submitted by Ms Maria Elsa Briones Mardones, who informed the courts that, in addition to the treatment that was inflicted on her and on a niece, her nephew, Abelardo Hipolito Briones, aged 14, was hypnotized and felt a prick in his forearm when he was interrogated by an alleged physician. [15]


68.          The various well-founded indications of the participation of physicians in torture sessions have been confirmed by the Medical Association of Chile which, after one year of investigation, penalized Dr. Luis Hernan Perez Castro, one of its members, on January 28, 1985, with a one year of suspension of his rights as a member of the Association for his “indirect participation in acts of torture”.  Reliable information supplied to the Commission states that the Medical Association of Chile is investigating another 8 physicians as a result of similar complaints.


c.          Effects on the victims


69.          The trauma of being subjected to torture has effects on the victims, both at the time at which it is inflicted and in the subsequent period, as a result of its sequelae, which continue much beyond the time it was directly inflicted.  [16]


70. These sequelae of torture extend much beyond the time at which it is administered and beyond the person of the victim, since they include various emotional and physical maladjustments of the persons affected, to which, as a general rule, are subsequently added various consequences connected with the activities they were engaged in--expulsion from educational institutions, loss of employment--; the labor productivity of the victims is seriously reduced in many cases.


71.          Hence, on the basis of the experience available, it may also be stated that torture has a particularly intense effect on the family unit through the consequent maladjustments in the personal relations of the victims.  It is no exaggeration to state that the spouse and the children come to be additional victims.  Furthermore, the climate of insecurity and fear created by the fact of having been subjected to torture affects not only the victim but also all his family members, especially the young children.


72.          It may, therefore, be concluded that torture is not an individual act but an act that directly affects specified social groups and indirectly the entire society in which it is practiced; nor is it a momentary event but rather it marks its direct or indirect victims sometimes permanently. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reproduced some of the experiences directly gathered during its stay in Chile in 1974.


73.          There are also many attestations of the various effects of torture both at the time it was inflicted and subsequently. Systematic studies have also been conducted of the victims of torture in Chile and describe the various serious effects that treatment has had on them. A group of Chilean physicians and psychologists made a study of the effects of torture on its victims, [17] in which they state that:


The post-traumatic psychic reactions are constant and rather similar in the different persons and vary somewhat in intensity and duration.


Always present are the manifestations characteristic of anxiety with a strong paranoidal component (feeling of fear, being startled, insecurity, and lack of confidence); sleeping disorders, sometimes with very repressive insomnias (apathy, depression, feelings of lack of self-respect, of sadness and of weakness).  Also frequent are psychosomatic manifestations (digestive disorders, sexual difficulties).


In some cases some degree of disorganization of thought persists, with alterations in concentration and memory and lack of emotional control. In some persons, the state of disintegration experienced during torture appears to continue and a true emotional paralysis in the form of prolonged shock is observed.


The brutality of the experience may appear as more tenuous symptoms but they reflect the experience of the disorganization of the ego; there is an alteration in the feeling of self; the individual experiences himself as strange or distant as if something very deep had changed within him.


74.          The effects of torture on the victims, his family members and the social group to which they belong suggest that that inhuman practice affects society as a whole.  This explains how difficult it is for societies in which torture is practiced to solve the many problems it engenders; the frontiers between justice and vengeance tend to become blurred; the credibility of institutions connected with torture by commission or omission is severely compromised; solidarity between the persons that order, practice and tolerate torture is woven into a mesh that impedes the just and peaceful solution of the problems engendered.


75.          Hence the prompt judicial solution of the reported cases of torture is essential; that solution is the only convincing proof of the will of the Government to correct the excesses some of the members of the Chilean security services may have engaged in.  It is therefore in order now to deal with the steps taken to solve the reported acts of torture, which aspect is dealt with in the following section.


f.          Judicial action in reported cases of torture


76.          Since it began its activities, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has expressed to the Government of Chile its concern that the reported cases of torture should be exhaustively investigated in order to punish the persons responsible.  Thus, in the 1974 report on the situation of human rights in Chile and on the basis of the conclusions reached on personal integrity, the Commission recommended to that Government that it undertake an “exhaustive, detailed, speedy and impartial investigation in order to identify the persons allegedly responsible and bring them before the courts”  (page 170).


77.          The Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile approved by the IACHR on March 12, 1976, included an additional chapter on the right to personal integrity.  It was limited to presenting some of the steps taken by the Commission in order to have the Government of Chile inform it of its fulfillment of the recommendation made in its earlier report and to report on the proceedings instituted against the persons accused of being allegedly responsible for the practice of torture or illegal force on prisoners.  The Commission notes that “the Government of Chile did not provide any information on the subject nor did it reply to the note of September 9, 1975” in which the information was requested. [18]


78.          In the Third Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile, February 11, 1977, the Commission again dealt with the right to personal integrity in connection with the measures adopted by the Government for punishing the persons responsible for the practice of torture reported.  In this regard, it should be mentioned that the Chilean authorities replied to the request of the Commission stating that the President of the Supreme Court, the Minister of Justice, the Deputy Secretary of Justice and the President of the Court of Appeal of Valparaiso made ten visits to various detention centers during which “there were no complaints about violence or mistreatment” except in one case.


79.          On that occasion the Commission stated that, in view of those findings, the visits had not had the effects expected since it had “testimony from more than 150 individuals, some of whom were being held in these centers of confinement during the period in which the visits were made, who claimed that they were victims of various forms of physical and psychological duress”  [19]


80.          The reply of the Government also reported three cases in which members of the security forces had been tried for the crime of unnecessary violence. In view of that reply, the Commission stated that:


It should be borne in mind ... that over the last three years the Commission has transmitted to the Government of Chile the pertinent parts of very concrete denunciations of physical and psychological duress against individuals deprived of their freedom, indicating both the time and place; that to date the Commission has never been informed that, as a result of the investigation of those denunciations, proceedings have been brought against those allegedly responsible or that any individual has been condemned for these crimes.


The Commission wishes to reiterate that, to date, the Government of Chile has not implemented an effective policy against torture, which demands above all that those found responsible for these acts be brought to trial and punished. So long as such measures are not implemented, the Government of Chile will continue to expose itself to the accusation that torture has been tolerated.  [20]


81.          In its 1977 Annual Report--approved on April 20, 1978--the Commission devoted Section IV to an analysis of “Evolution of the state of human rights in Chile”.  In it, in connection with the subject matter of this section, it stated that:


Furthermore, it points out that the Government of Chile has not yet reported to it on the proceedings that were to have been opened against those alleged to be responsible for many of the cases of torture or that any individual has been condemned for these crimes.



82.          In its 1978 Annual Report, the Commission stated the following with respect to the right to personal integrity:


Furthermore, the Commission has no knowledge that the Government of Chile has adopted measures to sanction those responsible for the torture practiced since 1973.


83.          In its 1979-1980 Annual Report, the Commission reiterated that statement. On this occasion the IACHR must state that, since that date, it has not been informed by the Government of Chile of any trial or sentence for reported tortures affecting members of the security forces.


84.          Despite those repeated requests, the Government of Chile has not provided any valid indication of its determination to investigate, try, and punish the persons responsible for the practice of acts of torture. On the contrary, there is clear evidence that the persons involved in this condemnable practice, when they have been identified--or when sufficient elements permitting their identification have been established--have been neither tried nor punished.


85.          Indeed, in the chapter of this report dealing with the right to a fair trial and due process, several cases in point will be mentioned, such as that of the teacher Alvarez Santibañez, in which the military court responsible for the pertinent proceedings stated that, although the existence of the crime of unnecessary violence had been proven “there are, on the other hand, no well-founded presumptions that specified persons have taken part in that crime as perpetrator, accomplice or accessory after the fact”.  However, the detention of the victim by the CNI during the time in which the tortures that led to his death were inflicted on him is fully proven.


86.          Also, in the case of Pablo Fuenzalida, German Molina, and others, presented in Chapter III of this report, the ordinary courts rejected the complaint of torture submitted to them by the accused, arguing that “the defendants had not provided any evidence on the matter, which evidently is difficult since the CNI barracks are secret for security reasons”.  In addition, the investigating judge accepted the documents provided by the CNI in which the defendants declared that they had been well treated during their detention and assigned such documents the status of “public instruments” even though the defendants affirmed that they had been forced to sign them.


87.          Again, the case of the teacher Alvarez Santibañez is a clear indication of the validity of that type of document. Indeed, when brought before the military prosecutor, the victim signed a document stating that:


I certify that while I was detained in the National Intelligence Agency from August 15, 1979 to date (August 20) 1 was not the subject of any physical abuse or pressure of any kind.


In addition, I state that I received all my personal belongings and documentation in good order.


Which I certify freely and spontaneously and I sign.


88.          As already stated, the victim died 17 hours after the signature of that document as a result of the torture to which he had been subjected.


89.          It would take too long to continue to dwell on particular cases in order to support the assertion that the persons responsible for acts of terror have not been punished despite the existence of abundant evidence against them. To that end it is enough to mention that in none of the 536 complaints presented for that reason have the Chilean courts acted in that direction.


90.          The Commission finds it necessary to draw attention to the fact that, in view of repeated complaints of torture lodged against members of the security forces, the Episcopal Conference of Chile issued a statement on December 1983 to the effect that:


Those who in any way inflict, promote or collaborate with torture commit a serious offense against God and human dignity Therefore, as long as they do not sincerely repent, the torturers, their accomplices, and those who, having an opportunity to halt the torture, do not do so, may not receive the sacred communion or be sponsors in the sacraments of the Church. In addition, a complete reform of the security forces, especially of the CNI, is absolutely essential and urgently necessary if they are to act within the bounds of the morality and of the just laws that should govern a country. Only in this way can torture, intimidation, accusations and degrading treatment be averted.


91.          It should also be pointed out that, while the Government of Chile has not taken measures against those accused of torture, it expelled the United States missionary Dennis O’Mara from the country for distributing to people leaving a church Christmas cards requesting the end of torture in that country. Father O’Mara was arrested on December 23, 1984 in Santiago and expelled four days later because he was considered a “danger to the internal peace of the country”, in accordance with the Supreme Decree of the Minister of Interior dated 26 December, 1984.




92.          On the basis of what has been stated throughout this section it may be affirmed that torture has been a practice throughout the period covered by this report.  Although the real extent of this phenomenon is difficult to accurately define, the number of complaints lodged shows that it is wide-spread. Its practice has been possible because of the weakening of the powers and independence of the Judiciary and of the remedies instituted for protecting the personal integrity of prisoners, as follows from what is stated in Chapter VIII of this report dealing with the right to a fair trial and due process.


93.          The successive extensions of the periods a person may be detained without being brought before a competent court, as pointed out in the chapter relating to the right to personal liberty, has engendered conditions favoring the occurrence of torture.  Those periods were extended from 48 hours, as prescribed by the 1925 Constitution, to the 20 days as provided for in current legislation. To this must be added the effects of the prolonged periods of incommunicado detention the present rules permit.


94.          To these legal and institutional resources has been added the allocation of physical and human resources specializing in the practice of torture; transportation, secret places of detention, various implements for the application of tortures, and personnel for that task, including physicians.  The inhuman task performed by those persons with the aid of all the resources assigned has had a clear political objective; it is that of obtaining information and self-incriminating statements from the persons affected, which leaves deep personal sequelae in the victims and their relatives.  It has also created a climate of insecurity and terror that affects Chilean society as a whole. That effect strengthens the impunity enjoyed by members of the security services that perform or abet acts of torture, since none of them have been condemned despite the many complaints lodged with the courts.


95.          The solid evidence collected by the IACHR, set forth in this section, makes it possible to state that the practice of torture has not been the result of individual excesses committed by members of the security agencies or a phenomenon tolerated in view of the indifference or weakness of other Chilean institutions; on the contrary, torture has been and is a deliberate policy of the Government of Chile and has been pursued throughout the period that began on September 11, 1973.


96.          Accordingly, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is of the opinion that the solution of the serious individual and social problems created by the practice of torture in Chile requires the immediate adoption of radical corrective measures by the institutions involved in order to restore the prestige and credibility of the forces that act as perpetrators or accessories of so condemnable a policy.  It is also essential to strengthen the Judiciary, which is responsible for protecting the personal integrity of prisoners and controlling the actions of security agencies.  The absence of immediate corrective measures in this regard threatens to corrode the very essence of the vital institutions of Chilean society.


97.          In accordance with what is stated throughout this chapter, the Commission is of the opinion that the right to personal integrity has been seriously violated in Chile during the entire period that began on September 11, 1973. Recently, the systematic use of torture has been compounded by the use of excessive and indiscriminate violence against the population.  It may therefore be stated that not only has significant progress in the matter of personal security not been achieved but that, on the contrary, a marked retreat has occurred; this has engendered a pervasive climate of insecurity and fear among the population, which sees that its rights can be violated without there being any effective remedy against it and without the persons responsible for those violations being punished.


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[6]         Case No. 4666; Resolution published in the IACHR Annual Report, 1981‑1982, pp. 50-51.

[7]         See the Resolution adopted by the IACHR on case No. 4665, published in the Annual Report 1981-1982, pp. 52-55.

[8]         The affidavit was published in Mensaje No. 336, January-February 19859 pp. 38-45.  A similar account was published by El Diario de Caracas, in its editions of December 7, 8 and 10, 1984.

[9]         When the victim was taken to a place at which a meeting of the above-mentioned political party was alleged to have taken place, he threw himself in front of a public transport vehicle to escape his captors, which he did not succeed in doing.  Valenzuela Morales said that Mr. Contreras Maluie was eliminated and subsequently buried in a place called “Cuesta Barriga”.  Technically, the status of Mr. Contreras Maluie is that of missing since November 3, 1976.

[10]        See the chapter on the right to personal freedom in this Report.

[11]        Chilean Commission on Human Rights, Annual Report 1983, pp. 38 and 39.

[12]        IACHR, Annual Report 1983-1984, p. 92.

[13]        The judicial action for acting as an accessory against the physician who signed the certificate was subject to the secrecy of the summary proceedings, since Decree Law No. 2,882 provides that civil personnel.  that renders services to the CNI “shall be considered members of the Armed Forces for all jurisdictional and disciplinary purposes”, with the results that the records were transmitted to the military courts.

[14]        Hoy, July 8-14, 1984.

[15]        United National Economic and Social Council, Protection of Human Rights in Chile, Document A/34/583, Annex XV, p. 3.

[16]        IACHR First Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile, p. 77 et seq.

[17]        Boletín de la Asociación de Abogados Pro Derechos Humanos en Chile, November 1980.

[18]           Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile, p. 124.

[19]        Third Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile, pp. 53 and 54.

[20]        Third Report.... op. cit., p. 55.