Chile: Demand Police Accountability in Trans Murders

Act Now to Demand an End to Impunity!

According to records collected by TravesChile (a trans organization) and Movimiento Unificado de Minorias Sexuales (MUMS, a gay organization), about 24 transvestites have been murdered in Chile in the last two years; authorities have solved only one of these cases. The organizations accuse the police and the judicial system of inaction due to homophobic bias. The case of Amanda Jofre Cerda, a 23 year old transvestite who was found dead on November 24 in the apartment of a notorious drug dealer, has prompted the trans and gay communities to become even more vocal and strong in their advocacy for justice.

IGLHRC supports gay and trans organizations in Chile in asking for messages of protest to the following authorities:

Señor Ricardo Lagos Escobar
Presidente de la República (President of the nation)
E-mail: presidencia@segegob.cl
Señor José Antonio Gómez
Ministro de Justicia (Justice Minister)
E-mail: srios@minjusticia.cl
Señor Mario Garrido Montt
Presidente Corte Suprema de Justicia (President of the National Supreme Court)
E-mail: fleiva@pjud.cl
Señora Adriana Muñoz
Presidente Cámara de diputados (President of the Deputee Chamber)
E-mail: presicam@congreso.cl

Señores Andrés Zaldivar Larraín
Presidente Senado de la república (President of the Senate)

E-mail: zaldivar@congreso.cl

Please also send copies of correspondence to the following e-mail addresses:

traveschileunete@hotmail.com
trianguloabierto@manquehue.net
mums@manquehue.net

You will find below a copy of the letter in Spanish written by the Chilean organizations, as well as an English translation. We suggest that you send the letter in Spanish.

MODEL LETTER

Distinguidos Señores:

Nos dirigimos a Ustedes con la preocupación que nos deja la denuncia efectuada por representantes de la Agrupación de Personas Transgénero y el movimiento Unificado de Minorías Sexuales, la cual exige el esclarecimiento del asesinato de Amanda (Rodolfo) Jofré Cerda, persona transngénero quien fue encontrada muerta el pasado 24 de noviembre en el departamento del conocido e influyente Químico Farmacéutico Winston Michelson del Canto.

Respaldamos la denuncia hecha por la Agrupación TravesChile ante los Tribunales de Justicia, pues ya se tenía el antecedentes hace 3 meses del secuestro y corrupción de otro menor de 16 años presentada contra Michelson por la madre del menor, caso en el cual la jueza no ordenó ninguna diligencia teniendo a su vista todos los antecedentes que involucraban directamente a Michelson.

Vemos con preocupación el hecho que este criminal podría haber estado detenido hace mucho tiempo y la muerte de Amanda no hubiese ocurrido, ni tampoco los secuestros y corrupción de menores transgéneros.

Quedamos a la espera que su autoridad comprenda que estos hechos no pueden quedar en la impunidad una vez mas, como históricamente ha sido en Chile. Estamos preocupados dado que Chile se iza en el contexto internacional como un país progresista, sin embargo, pensamos que un país lo es en la medida que se respeta los derechos humanos de todas las personas, incluidas aquellas que difieren en su orientación sexual.

Saluda a usted atentamente,


ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Dear Sirs,

We write to you to express grave concern over the claim submitted by representatives from Agrupacion de Personas Transgenero TravesChile and Movimiento Unificado de Minorias Seuxuales, demanding a full investigation of the murder of Amanda (Rodolfo) Jofre Cerda. Ms. Jofre Cerda was a transgender person who was found dead last November 23, in an apartment belonging to a well-known and influential chemist, Winston Michelson del Canto.

We support the claim submitted by Agrupacion TravesChile to the Courts, because there are precedents pointing to the involvement of Mr. Michelson del Canto in criminal activities. Three months ago, a mother denounced him for kidnapping and corrupting her 16 year old transgender daughter. The judge acting in that case did not order any proceedings, even when prsented with all the antecedents pointing directly to Mr. Michelson del Canto.

We are dismayed by the knowledge that this criminal could have been arrested long ago and that Amanda's death may never have taken place, along with the brutal kidnapping and corruption of the transgender adolescent.

We hope that you will understand that these crimes cannot continue with impunity, as it has been the custom in Chile. Chile raises its voice as a progressive country in the international arena, but we think a country is indeed progressive when it respects the human rights of all persons, including those who differ from the majority in their sexual orientation.

Sincerely,

[Name, organization, address]

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Amanda Jofre Cerda was a member of TravesChile, an organization that has been working for the last two years for trans rights in Chile, focused particularly on preventing HIV/AIDS, fighting police abuse and raising human rights awareness among the trans population. She was 23. In June 2002, she was raped by police officers in Police Station 19, Providencia, Santiago de Chile. She filed suit, and the case is still pending resolution.

Amanda Jofre Cerda died in the early hours of Sunday, November 24, of an overdose. At the time of her death, she was in the apartment of Winston Michelson del Canto (59), a chemist who was known as a regular client of trans sex workers in the Providencia area, in Santiago de Chile. Trans people in the area knew Michelson del Canto as a drug dealer who would induce girls to take cocaine and organize orgies involving minors. More than once, he faced charges of drug trafficking and illegal possession of weapons but, according to local activists, he has always bought his way out of jail.

TravesChile has filed charges against Michelson del Canto for kidnapping and participating in Amanda Jofre Cerda's murder. The case lies before Santiago Criminal Court # 17.

On November 29, 2002 the Assembly of NGOs and Organizations Working on HIV/AIDS issued a press statement in solidarity with TravesChile, condemning judicial inactivity around the Jofre Cerda case and denouncing the fact that more than 20 transvestites (*) had been murdered in Chile in the last two years. Not a single one of those homicides has been properly investigated and solved, according to the statement.

Movimiento Unificado de Minorias Sexuales (MUMS) fears there is a chain of homophobic murders taking place in Chile. The latest case was that of Edgardo Vega, a member of Vida Optima--an organization created by People Living with HIV/AIDS. He was found beheaded in his apartment in the early hours of December 6. In November, Mauricio Ortega Julio, a well-known gay man, was found murdered in the city of Cajón del Maipo, and Carlos Muñoz (also a member of Vida Optima) was found dead by the Mapocho River. As with the Jofre Cerda's case, activists claim that the police and judicial system are not investigating those cases as they should; impunity thus prevails.

In August 2002, a transvestite known as "La Wanda" (Hugo Andrés Godoy) was beaten to death in the city of Los Andes. In May 2002, in the same city, "La Pilar" (Wladimir Ibáñez Carrasco), a 42 year old transvestite, was found dead in a nearby river.

Also on November 29, a trans activist and member of TravesChile, Michel Clementi, was arrested. Police officers asked to see her ID and then realized that Ms. Clementi was wanted under charges of "contempt of public authority". In 2001, Ms. Clementi had been arrested and subjected to physical abuse by the Police Investigations Department in the city of Viña del Mar. After being released, she submitted a complaint for human rights violations before the 8th Criminal Court of Viña del Mar. Activists from TravesChile and Movimiento Unificado de Minorias Sexuales regard the arrest of Michel Clementi as a statement of intimidation, in the context of their intense public campaign around the murder of Amanda Jofre Cerda.

Due to their work against police harassment, the experience of being a target of intimidation is nothing new for TravesChile. On July 2002, the organization denounced death threats they had received from a Police sergeant and a corporal from Santiago Police Station # 4. Activists managed to record the corporal's plate number (947521 R) but in spite of the fact that they took their claims to the media and to authorities like the Carabineros (the name of police forces in Chile) Order and Security Department Chief, General Nelson Godoy, the case received no further investigation or resolution. Since June 28, 2002 (Pride Day) TravesChile faced an intense campaign of hate mail and death threats via their electronic mail address, but police refused to investigate. Ms. Silvia Parada, president of TravesChile, filed a petition for investigation with the 9th Santiago Criminal Court, but to no avail.

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Right to life (and to liberty and security of person) is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in its Article 3; by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in its Articles 6 and 9 and by the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights (ICHR) in its Articles 4 and 7.

Right to equality before the law and to be free from discrimination are protected by the UDHR in its Articles 2 and 7, by the ICCPR in its Articles 2 and 26, and by the IACHR in its Articles 1 and 24.

Right to equality before the courts and tribunals is protected by ICCPR in its Article 14.

Right to effective remedy is protected by the UDHR in its Article 8.

Right to judicial protection is protected by the ICHR in its Article 25.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its decision in Toonen v Australia (1994) that existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Numerous other human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have subsequently condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation. The UN Committee on Economic and Social Rights has made a similar observation, in its General Comment 14 on the right to health- to be applied to all economic, social and cultural rights.

Chile has ratified the ICCPR in 1972 and the IAHRC in 1990. The UDHR is considered customary law for all Member States of the United Nations, including Chile.

The Chilean Constitution protects the right to life (Article 19.1), to equality before the law (Article 19.2) and to equal protection of the law (Article 19.3).

ABOUT IGLHRC

The mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is to secure the full enjoyment of the human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression, and/or HIV status. A US-based non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO), IGLHRC effects this mission through advocacy, documentation, coalition building, public education, and technical assistance.

IGLHRC
1375 Sutter Street, Suite 222
San Francisco, CA 94109
USA
Telephone: +1-415-255-8680
Fax: +1-415-255-8662
Email: iglhrc@iglhrc.org
http://www.iglhrc.org


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