In February 1991, the Chilean National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation released a reportdetailing human rights abuses resulting in deaths and disappearances during the years of military rule under Augusto Pinochet (1973 – 1990). According to the report, 2,296 people were murdered during the 17-year period. Subsequent estimates have put the number of missing as high as 3,400. Addressing the issue of the missing has been recognized as a key element in the process of social reconciliation following the return to democracy.
Efforts to locate and identify missing persons continue. The issue has been complicated by questions about the accuracy of early identifications.
On 15 May 2006, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Human Rights was established to improve the pace and efficiency of work on resolving missing persons cases from the 1973-90 period. The Commission formed a panel of experts to establish the basis for a system of identification that would meet the standard expected by relatives, the scientific community and citizens as a whole. ICMP participates in the work of this panel.
In June 2008, ICMP’s participation in the panel resulted in the signing of an agreement with the Government of Chile to provide technical assistance in identifying victims of enforced disappearance from the 1970s. The agreement with the Servicio Médico Legal was renewed in 2010 and again in 2013.
ICMP has assisted with DNA testing of 2,432 reference samples and 194 post-morten samples from missing persons, and has provided extensive assistance with DNA matching and consultation.
The Chilean authorities maintain an outreach campaign for families of the disappeared, inviting relatives to provide blood samples for DNA identification. More details can be accessed (in Spanish) here (http://bit.ly/1P6d7rg).