Juana Calfunao Paillalef, community leader and human rights defender

Re: Juana Calfunao Paillalef, community leader and human rights defender

To: Sr. Luis Bates, Minister of Justice

From: Monique Pongracic-Speier of LRWC

Date: 2004-11-01

LRWC is gravely concerned for the safety of Juana Calfunao Paillalef, and her family members, including her daughter, Carolina.

As we trust you are aware, Juana Paillalef is a community leader or “lonko” of the Juan Paillalef indigenous community in Cunco, IX Region. She is also a founder of the non-governmental organisation Comisión Ética Contra la Tortura.

On August 20, 2004, we wrote to you regarding certain acts of murder, arson, and other violence directed against Ms. Paillalef and her family, apparently to intimidate Ms. Paillalef’s against continuing her work as a human rights advocate. We were disappointed that there was no response to our letter. That disappointment is now redoubled by the fact that it is necessary to write to you again concerning fresh threats to Ms. Paillalef and her family.

According to reports from Amnesty International, which LRWC considers reliable, an official from the Corporación Nacional de Desarrollo Indígena (“CONADI”) threatened Juana Paillalef and her daughter, Carolina, on September 26, 2004. The official reportedly said, “quieros que te quema viva ahora” and “voy a buscar el arma para matarlos”. Later that day, several shots were fired at the makeshift shelter Juana Paillalef, her husband Cadin Huentelao, and their children have occupied since the arson attack on their previous home in June 2004.

We understand that Ms. Paillalef and Mr. Huentelao made a complaint regarding the verbal threats and the shots fired at their home to the Los Laureles Carabineros police station on September 27, 2004.

Placed against the backdrop of the previous violence Juana Paillalef and her family have suffered, LRWC believes that there is every reason to treat the September 26, 2004 threat as a grave warning of the potential for further violence against them. We urge Chile to provide Ms. Paillalef, Mr. Huentelao, and their family members, with appropriate protection.

Further, LRWC takes the opportunity to once again remind Chile that international law, adopted domestically into the country through ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights (among other instruments), obliges Chile to ensure that persons whose human rights have been violated have an effective remedy. We therefore call upon Chile to take the following actions:

  • promptly commence an impartial and conclusive investigation into the September 26, 2004 threats, and the other violence that Ms. Paillalef and her family members have suffered; and
  • make the findings of the investigation public and bring those responsible for any illegal activity to justice.

We also request details of the investigations that we understand have been commenced into: (1) the arson attack on the Paillalef/Huentelao home on June 26, 2004, (2) the death of Basilio Coñoenao in or around June 2004, and (3) the torture of Juana Paillalef in May 2000, which led to the death of her unborn child.

Please advise LRWC, by mail, e-mail or fax, of the actions that the Government of Chile is taking in relation to the matters discussed above. LRWC continues to await your response.