The protests in Chile are going to reach three months since their initial outbreak and there is no sign that they will soon subside. The government seeks to limit these actions.
The Ministry of Justice, Hernán Larraín, announced that he will present a project regulating the right to assembly, which they hope to enter Congress during the first half of this year. He did so in an interview with El Mercurio, one of the country’s conservative newspapers.
Larraín said that this is a topic he has long thought about with Human Rights Undersecretary Lorena Recabarren. The latter has been strongly criticized by civil society for not recognizing – completely – international human rights reports.
The minister went on to say that this is regulated by a decree from the 1980s, so “this is not the way to regulate such an important right, a constitutional guarantee.
According to the secretary of state, this project is being worked on with the legal community, including Sergio Micco, director of the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH), and that Undersecretary Recabarren is in charge of generating pre-legislative participatory instances that can “consider opinions and comments from broad sectors from the international standard of human rights.
She also explained that the right to assembly is linked to other rights such as freedom of association, freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate, and clarified that “the right to protest as such is not strictly regulated in the conventions. Many rights are linked to each other. They usually relate to or even generate tensions with each other”.
Chileans have been holding protest actions since Oct. 18 of last year, when the 30 peso rise in the subway was the straw that broke the camel’s back. “It’s not 30 pesos, it’s 30 years,” is the most recognized slogan in the demonstrations.
Because of this, Larraín believes that “part of the debate is that there should be a consensus on what the right to assembly means with respect to other rights, which means the divergences between a march, mobilization and a fixed public demonstration”.
Regarding the possibility that the ministry will consider prior authorization to obtain this right, the head of Justice pointed out that “in a very busy street, how do you regulate this right without impeding the exercise of others? So, more than a problem of prior authorization as a condition, it is how I organize and coordinate the exercise of many rights. And at the same time, how do I objectify the possible causes of refusal?”.
If you are interested in knowing more about Chile, I will be writing about the demonstrations and the internal conflicts that are taking place in the new section ‘That experiment called Chile‘.