Online proceedings for the IRCT General Assembly and 10th International Scientific Symposium - Delivering on the Promise of the Right to Rehabilitation

Time: 11:10 to 11:30 Download Presentation

Psychological forensic evaluations using the Istanbul Protocol to assess allegations of torture and human rights abuses on Mapuche Indigenous People: Contribution of these evaluations in the national and international judicial court systems

Presenter(s) and co-author(s): Dr. Ruth Vargas-Forman ( Centro de Investigacion y Defensa CID SUR Chile - Chile )


This experience is framed within the field of forensic psychology in documenting torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment from state institutions on indigenous Mapuche political prisoners. They were processed under the Anti-terrorist Law in Chile. The affidavits were sent to national and international judiciary investigative bodies. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the Chilean State in violation of the rights of the indigenous leaders who were convicted under an anti-terrorism law. The verdict released on July of 2014 is the first condemnation of the Chilean government regarding the disproportionate application of antiterrorist laws specifically targeting indigenous rights claims.


In 2011, national and international legal representatives invited me to conduct 14 psychological reports on Mapuche prisoners to assess the impact of their experiences in the justice system after prosecution and conviction of crimes classified as terrorism. The psycho-forensic reports based on the Istanbul Protocol have been presented in Chilean national court system by the Center for Legal Defense CID SUR and in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), among other legal representatives. The psychological affidavits provided the National and International Courts with elements to define the detrimental impact at personal, family and com- munity levels of the application of the ``Anti-Terrorist Law''. The psychological reports submitted had a great influence in the determination of the restitution decision as evidenced by the rulings of the Inter-American Court and the Chilean court.


These psychological forensic evaluations using the Istanbul Protocol on Mapuche indigenous leaders: a) Pro- vides a unique opportunity to understand the essential role of the psycho-forensic evidence when documenting human rights abuses and torture on indigenous communities. b) Reflects discriminative judicial treatment that often characterizes the state relationship with first nations in Latin America. c) Evidence the need of independent legal, medical and psychological experts with appropriate training on documentation of torture and human right abuses impacting indigenous people. d) Demarcates the relevance of culturally sensitive psycho- forensic reports when seeking redress of human rights abuses at national and international justice systems. e) Explores the consequences of the application of the ``Anti-Terrorist Law'' and observes the protective practices of the Mapuche People in coping with the multidimensional impact of human rights abuses experienced. f) Encourages the use of the Istanbul Protocol to document collective and individual human rights abuses impacting indigenous communities.

Funding & No Conflicts Declaration

Comprehensive psycho-judicial approaches with respect to indigenous communities are relevant when seeking redress of human rights abuses and torture impacting indigenous communities claiming collective rights.

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