It is crucial to begin by exploring actions that have been taken by Chile in response to the human rights violations that took place between 1973 and 1990.
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In order to confront past abuses and human rights violations, both civilian collaborators and the past military officers who took part in the violations have been taken through the prosecution process owing to the torture of innocent civilians, extrajudicial killings and forceful transfer of populations that eventually disappeared without a trace.
The prosecution process has charged close to 600 suspects. Since 2009, the hearings have been continuing with the aim of reaching a conclusion over the matter.
So far, the total number of those who have been convicted of the charges leveled against them is about 300 (Human Rights Watch par.4).
A total of 56 culprits have been sentenced to jail. In addition, it is pertinent to mention that even those who had higher ranks in the Chilean army were not spared bearing in mind that 32 of the convicts were chief army officers in the position of Generals.
Before he died in 2006, Pinochet was already serving a house arrest.
The secret police that used to serve Pinochet was also charged way back in 2009 for crimes related to forceful disappearance of civilians. This secret police force was also found guilty of having undertaken extrajudicial killings since the beginning of human rights abuses in Chile (Collins 18).
Hence, a total of 129 members belonging to this group were prosecuted since they were found guilty of the aforementioned offences.
An additional two retired air force officers were also sentenced to almost four years in prison because they were responsible for inflicting pain to innocent civilians (Zalaquett 94). Moreover, crimes against humanity were given an additional attention by the courts system.
As it stands now, there is a major tension underlying Chile’s reconciliation efforts (Human Rights Watch par.6). There are bitter feelings between the civilians and government agencies.
The latter are apparently promoting peace against the will of the victims who are demanding the full prosecution process through the courts of law.
Even though the reconciliation effort in Chile is urgently needed, there are growing tensions each passing day especially between the criminal justice system and the government. For instance, the courts may be willing to prosecute offenders of human rights abuses (Zalaquett 43).
However, government efforts to reconcile communities are being hampered by the on-going judicial processes. It is vital to mention that reconciliation can hardly take place within the corridors of courts.
When suspects are charged and sentenced to jail terms, it becomes critically cumbersome to reconcile communities who may think that they are being targeted. Therefore, the government may not be in a position to pardon offenders while most of the culprits have already been prosecuted.
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It is also necessary to inquire whether those efforts have been successful in balancing the need for justice and peace.
In terms of justice, the on-going and even the past judicial processes have yielded positive returns because those found guilty are prosecuted. To a large extent, the pursuit for justice is well on track.
On the other hand, peace building is a major challenge due to the past and even the on-going court cases. The former police officers and army personnel who used to serve under the Pinochet’s government had a strong network of allies within the country.
Whenever their cases are brought to court and unfortunately they are found guilty, their friends and communities back home remain bitter. This kind of attitude has been a major setback in the process of peace building within the country (Collins 75).
Collins, Cath. Post-Transitional Justice: Human Rights Trials in Chile and El Salvado. Pennsylvania, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010. Print.
Human Rights Watch. Chile: Events in 2009. 2010. Web.
Zalaquett, Jose. Chilean National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation: Report of the Chilean National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation. South Bend, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1993. Print.