GENEVA (24 August 2020) – Chile should drop criminal charges against a feminist group of human rights defenders whose performance art has inspired women protestors around the world, UN human rights experts* said today.
“The artistic and feminist group Las Tesis has been key in denouncing police violence and violence against women in Chile” said the experts. “The State has an obligation to protect human rights defenders. It should not prosecute them for exercising their freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly. We call on prosecutors to drop criminal charges presented by the Police against them.”
Las Tesis is known internationally for the song “Un violador en tu camino” (A rapist in your path), first performed last November on International Day for The Elimination of Violence Against Women. Since then, the song, with its line “the rapist is you,” has been used in protests by women around the world.
“The group and the song have become a symbol of the universal demand of women to be able to live a life free of violence,” the experts added. “We fear prosecution of Las Tesis could have a chilling effect on women in many other countries who are standing up for their human rights.”
The experts also expressed concern that the comments made by certain government authorities about the criminal charges “may stigmatize and ostracize women human rights defenders, contrary to international human rights standards.”
“The diversity of opinions and its expression in different forms, including through feminist art, is necessary in a democratic society,” they said. “Chile must protect freedom of expression and cultural expression because these freedoms contribute to a democratic society.”
The experts said they have made their concerns known to the Government of Chile, and are now awaiting a response.
The Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
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