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U.N. Rights Panel Condemns Chile After U.S. Initiative

March 15, 1986

GENEVA (AP) _ The U.N. Human Rights Commission adopted a resolution Friday that incorporates U.S. criticism of abuses in Chile and calls for an immediate end to torture by the military government’s security forces.

The resolution, adopted by consensus, also expresses concern about continuing ″serious violations″ of human rights in the South American country as detailed in a report by a special U.N. envoy.

Similar resolutions have been passed by the commission each year since Gen. Augusto Pinochet seized power in a 1973 coup, but it was the first time that the United States voted for the measure.

It also became the first time that President Pinochet’s government agreed to review the resolution, having rejected all previous ones.

Chile’s foreign minister, Jaime del Valle, told reporters in the Chilean capital of Santiago, ″We are going to analyze the resolution serenely and calmly. The procedure for this is relatively long. We will take all the time we need.″

″The only thing our enemies want is that we show desperation and haste, which we’re not going to do,″ he added.

Gen. Pinochet’s regime renewed the state of emergency Friday under which it has ruled during most of the time since the coup, but eased restrictions on the media’s ability to report on opposition political activities.

The state of emergency was extended for 90 days, as is customary. It permits the government to impose curfews, bar anyone from entering the country, censor the media and private mail, and curtail freedom of movement.

Richard Schifter, the U.S. chief delegate, called the commission’s action ″a significant step forward″ and said it showed ″our deep interest in peaceful change in Chile,″ which is a U.S. ally.

″There are a number of countries in the world where such change has taken place,″ he said in apparent reference to the Philippines and Haiti, where the United States recently encouraged transitions from governments accused of human right abuses.

The special U.N. envoy who investigated Chile is Fernando Vilio, a Costa Rican university professor. He lists allegations of killings, torture, beatings and abductions of people suspected of opposing the government and of other civilians.

Commission President Hector Charry Samper of Colombia drew up the resolution approved on Friday. It closely resembled a U.S. draft introduced last week and announced Wednesday.

In previous years, U.S. delegates have rejected resolutions condemning Chile, saying they were unbalanced because they did not criticize similar abuses in Cuba, Poland and other countries. The U.S. draft represented the first time Washington initiated criticism of Chile in the commission.

State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb said in Washington that the U.S. push for such a resolution this year was ″not a policy reversal,″ but part of an effort ″to have human rights problems in Chile treated on the same basis as problems elsewhere in the world.″

He said the intent ″was to encourage rational and balanced discussion of what could be done in Chile to end persistent and serious human rights violations ... instead of having an extreme, unbalanced resolution of the type we had been unable to support in the past.″

The United States has been quietly urging Pinochet’s government to improve its human rights record and hold talks with leftist opponents.

Schifter said this approach had proved unproductive.

″We go public when it appears that our quiet entreaties have not been adequately responded to,″ he said in announcing the U.S. resolution Wednesday.

The resolution approved by the commission says restoration of democracy in Chile was essential to ending abuses, and expressed ″particular dismay″ that government and legal authorities could not control the security forces.

It criticized the state of emergency and the refusal to let several thousand Chilean exiles return home.

Mexico, Yugoslavia and Algeria had sought a vote on a rival draft with stronger language, but withdrew it when the United States also agreed to scrap its original text.

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