Valech Report

Valech Report

The Valech Report (officially The National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture Report) was a study that detailed abuses committed in Chile between 1973 and 1990 by agents of Augusto Pinochet's military regime. The report was published on November 29, 2004 and detailed the results of a six-month investigation. A revised version was released on June 1, 2005. The commission was reopened in February 2010 for 18 months, adding more cases.[1]

The commission found that 38,254 people had been imprisoned for political reasons and that most had been tortured. It also found that 30 people had been executed or "disappeared"; that is in addition to those recorded by the earlier Rettig Report.

Testimony has been classified, and will be kept secret for the next 50 years. Therefore, they cannot be used in trials concerning human rights violations, in contrast to the "Archives of Terror" concerning Paraguay and Operation Condor. Associations of ex-political prisoners have been denied access to the testimony.



The report was prepared at the request of President Ricardo Lagos by the eight-member National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture headed by Bishop Sergio Valech and it was made public via the Internet. The commission included María Luisa Sepúlveda (executive vice president), lawyers Miguel Luis Amunátegui, Luciano Fouillioux, José Antonio Gómez (PRSD president), Lucas Sierra, Álvaro Varela and psychologist Elizabeth Lira. It did not include any representative of the victims or members of the associations of ex-political prisoners.


First part

The initial report was based on testimony given to the commission by 35,865 people, of which 27,255 were regarded as legitimate ("direct victims"). Of these, 94% said they were tortured. Eleven people were born in prison and 91 underage children were detained with their parents (including four unborn babies); these were not considered "direct victims". Another group of 978 people were minors at the time of their arrest. One woman was raped in prison and four women were pregnant at the time of their arrest and were tortured; their children were considered "direct victims". Victims were detained for six months, on average.

Out of the more than 8,600 rejected cases, 7,290 people requested that their cases be revised. The commission also agreed to investigate a further 166 cases which were not considered the first time. The updated report added 1,204 new cases, bringing the total number of victims to 28,459. The total number of arrests was 34,690 (some were detained multiple times).

The commission found that approximately 69% of arrests occurred between September 11 and December 31 of 1973, and 19% between January 1973 and August 1977.

Second part

Under the presidency of Michelle Bachelet the commission was reopened. It reviewed about 32,000 new requests from February 2010 to August 2011. It was to be opened for 12 months but due to the high number of requests it was extended for six months. 9,795 cases of torture and 30 cases of disappearances or executions were certified.[2][3] The new report was presented to president Sebastián Piñera on August 18, 2011 and released on August 26, 2011.[4]


The state provided lifelong monetary compensation to the victims as well as health and education benefits. These are detailed in Law 19,992 and include a monthly payment of about 113,000 to 129,000 thousand Chilean pesos (in December 2004 prices, subsequently adjusted for inflation), depending on the victim's age; free healthcare in the public system for victims and their parents, spouses or children under 25 or incapacitated children of any age; free education (primary to tertiary) for victims whose studies were interrupted by their imprisonment.[5]

There is also a special bonus of 4 million Chilean pesos for victim's children who were born in captivity or who were detained with their parents while they were minors.[5]


According to the associations of ex-political prisoners, the commission used a different definition of torture than the one accepted by the United Nations. The UN's definition of torture, counts about 400,000 victims of torture, but there is no clear source on how this estimation was reached[citation needed]). Most of those new cases of children had not been included in the first report because their parents were either executed political prisoners or among the "disappeared" detainees and there were no confirming witnesses. About two-thirds of the cases of abuse that were recognized by the commission took place during 1973.

The associations say that testimony was accepted under the following conditions:

  • Detention must have been of more than five days (in 1986, in Santiago de Chile, 120,000 people were detained by the armed forces. Of those 120,000, 24,000 were detained by Carabineros (the Chilean police force) for a duration of four days and a half). However, the Commission's requirement was not about time but about politically motivated detention or torture. In those cases where evidence of either was found, even if the period of detention was of few days, the testimonies were accepted (see article 1, paragraph 2 of Supreme Decree 1,040 of 2003, that created the Commission and established its mandate [6]).
  • Detention must have been in one of the 1,200 official detention and torture centers listed by the Commission (including Villa Grimaldi, Colonia Dignidad, Víctor Jara Stadium or Esmeralda floating center), excluding all cases of torture in the streets or in vehicles (starting in the 1980s, the CNI, which succeeded DINA, no longer brought victims to detention centers; thus, say the associations, the fact that about two-thirds of the cases of abuse that were approved by the commission took place during 1973). The case of Carmen Gloria Quintana, who was burnt alive in the middle of the 1980s, was not recognized, following this definition of torture. This allegation is erroneous. There was no official list of detention centers where victims had to have been detain for their cases to be recognized. The list established by the Commission was the product of the testimonies received (despite the fact that previous lists of detention centers included most places Memoriaviva). The difficulty of accepting testimonies of people detained in vehicles or tortured on the street was of finding enough evidence of them. Those cases where evidence was found of people detained and tortured in police buses or other vehicles were accepted. Ms. Quintana contacted the Commission but didn't present her testimony to it.
  • Detention must not have taken place in another country but in Chile.

They also underlined the fact that the commission worked for only six months, and with very little publicity, despite the UN's demand to accept testimonies for a longer period. In the countryside, in some cases victims who managed to be informed had to give testimony to local civil servants that were part of the local governments when they were detained and tortured. When the Commission knew about this situation demanded the exclusion of those officers of the process and sent new teams to those areas. The Commission coordinated its work with all regional and national organizations of former political prisoners and human rights organizations to help contacting their members and other people to give testimony. Advertisements were broad cast in national and local radios and TV stations and published in national and local newspaper [Commission's report pages 48 to 51,at]. The number of testimonies received is consistent with the geographic distribution of inhabitants in the capital city and the provinces [Commission's report pages 69 and 70, at]. The commission worked only during office hours, forcing victims to ask their employer for permission to testify - which, in Chile's present day society, is not always an easy thing to do... No sufficient psychological assistance was provided to the victims, who had to relive horrible experiences, some of them suffering flashbacks, except of referring statement givers to the Comprehensive Health Care Reparations Program (PRAIS [7]) and some specialized mental health care NGOs that weren't able to satisfy all the demand (giving sense to the concept of "re-victimization"). Ex-political prisoners said that testimony from minors under 18 years old were refused, because it was impossible for them to recall exactly all the details of the place and time where they had been tortured (children, some of them five years old, and adolescents had been tortured by the dictatorship).

Sixty percent of the ex-political prisoners were unemployed for at least two years, following studies made by ex-political prisoners' associations. Their life expectancy is only of 60 to 65 years. Switzerland and Argentina have recently refused to extradite two of them to Chile, on the grounds that they might be subject to "mistreatments" in Chile. Others are still confined in high security quarters in Chilean prisons.[citation needed]

See also

  • Chilean coup of 1973
  • Rettig Report
  • List of truth and reconciliation commissions


External links

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