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Declarations & Statements


Remember-Chile, 25.9.99

Pinochet's official documents undermine his own defence

The Chilean Government still insists that neither Britain nor Spain have the authority to judge the former dictator and current Senator for life Augusto Pinochet. However, facsimiles of official documents received by Remember-Chile, and signed by both Pinochet as President of Chile and Ricardo García-Rodríguez as Foreign Secretary, fundamentally contradict that assertion.

On the 23 September 1987 the Government of Chile signed the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which had been adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations during its XXXIX period of ordinary sessions in 1984. On 11th November 1987, the President sent the Junta a communication requesting the ratification of this Convention.

According to the fictional democracy operating in Chile under Pinochet's dictatorship, the General was the Executive Power, while the Junta, composed of the four generals in charge of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Police respectively, represented the Legislative Power. The President recommended the ratification of the aforementioned Convention, because it constituted "an important step in the process of humanisation of international law … destined to become an adequate mechanism to promote a more effective enforcement of the rights that are guaranteed in several multilateral international instruments."

Part of the message from the "Executive Power" to the "Legislative Power" was a "Technical Report", signed by the Foreign Secretary. In that official document, García Rodríguez stated, with what now appears as cruel clarity, that "Articles 5, 6 and 7 are designed to establish a system of universal jurisdiction in relation to the offence that is described in the Convention. This system attempts to prevent impunity of the authors of the above-mentioned illicit conduct. Accordingly, all State Parties are bound to prosecute the alleged offenders or, otherwise, to extradite them. This mechanism is one of the essential elements for the full efficacy of the Convention."

Furthermore, the document goes on to state that "This system of universal jurisdiction is also contained in a number of other international Conventions of which Chile is a party." To further buttress the legitimacy of the universal power of the Convention, the document mentions as precedents four other Agreements with international competence.

While the Chilean Government embarks on a frantic defence of the General - in an effort which exposes it to diplomatic disgrace - Remember-Chile publishes these documents both in their original language and in an English version, preceded by a brief technical introduction by Dr. Ximena Fuentes, BA (Chile) DPhil (Oxford), specialist in International Law.


President Pinochet´s communication to the Honourable Junta in relation to the adoption of the Convention against Torture.
By Dr Ximena Fuentes, BA (Chile), DPhil (Oxford)

Regarding the incorporation of treaties into domestic law, the Chilean constitutional system requires legislative approval of treaties before the executive can proceed to ratification. Therefore after signature, treaties must go through a legislative process in which the main national legislative body may approve or reject a treaty. For this reason, in 1987 the then President of the Republic, Augusto Pinochet, sent the text of the Convention against Torture to the main legislative organ at that time, the Junta de Gobierno. The Junta was composed of the chief commanders of the four branches of the armed forces, namely the military, the navy, the air force and the police force.

The Convention Against Torture was ratified by the government of Chile in 1988, and received the necessary approval of the Junta. This Junta examined both the text of the Convention and its attachment, a "Technical Report" drafted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is a constitutional practice in Chile that, when statutes and treaties are transmitted to the main legislative organ, the President of the Republic includes alongside it a brief explanation of the content of the statute or the treaty and the reasons why approval by the legislator is important and beneficial for the nation. The importance of the Technical Report attached to the text of the Convention against Torture lies in the fact that in it, the Department of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs acknowledges that the Convention establishes a system of universal jurisdiction, the purpose of which is to procure the prosecution, or, if necessary, the extradition of the offenders by any State party to the Convention.

In relation to the Pinochet case, the Chilean Government argues that the Convention against Torture does not allow for universal jurisdiction to prosecute offenders of the crime of torture. This is at odds with the view expressed by the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the time the Convention was signed (1987). The Technical Report explicitly mentions a system of universal jurisdiction established in articles 5, 6 and 7 of the Convention. Moreover, the Government of Pinochet states that this universal jurisdiction is one of the essential elements in promoting an effective enforcement of the Convention.


Transcripts of the Pinochet's Message to the Honourable Junta and the Foreign Secretary's Technical Report:


- Mensaje del Presidente Pinochet

- Informe Técnico de su Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores


Pinochet's Message to the Honourable Junta

- Foreign Secretary's Technical Report


Scanned images of the facsimile documents


- Pinochet's Message to the Honourable Junta

- Foreign Secretary's Technical Report

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