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Video Message for the visit of President Michelle Bachelet of Chile to the Human Rights Council

29 March 2017

Mr President,
Distinguished Members of the Council,

Please allow me to welcome Her Excellency President Michelle Bachelet of Chile to the Human Rights Council. I regret that I am unable to be with you today to greet her in person.

Chile has long been a strong human rights advocate on the international stage. I know I speak for many in the human rights community, and in this Council, when I express my gratitude to the Chilean government for its initiatives and supportive work on many human rights issues.

President Bachelet,

Chile has made great strides since the end of the dictatorship, but too many families still do not know the truth about what happened to their loved ones. The right to truth for victims of gross human rights violations is inalienable. Any potential measure of pardon or early release for perpetrators must be carefully considered in light of human rights law.

I welcome a number of very significant legislative reforms proposed by your government, including decriminalisation of abortion in a number of cases, and a bill on gender identity. I look forward to seeing these implemented, and to future legislation to protect all migrants in Chile from discrimination and stigma.

Earlier in this session, I met with your newly appointed Undersecretary for Human Rights, who is mandated to create Chile's first national human rights action plan for Chile. Let me say again here that my Office is eager to assist the government in this endeavor.

Your government has also launched a participatory process towards adoption of a new Constitution, including a specific mechanism for the participation of indigenous peoples. This is commendable. Generations of discrimination have created deep-felt injustice and inequality. Proper recognition and a meaningful dialogue are essential, particularly in La Araucanía region, where my Office is concerned about reports of excessive use of force and other abuses against members of indigenous groups.

I am convinced that Chile’s commitment to human rights will be the best safeguard of its democracy, and will guarantee its path towards sustainable development.

I thank you.