The outcry over missing persons in Chile has been highlighted again with the occupation by a group of hunger strikers of United Nations offices in Santiago, the country's capital.
GV Justice Ministry building
SV Justice Minister Monica Madariage speaking
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Background: The outcry over missing persons in Chile has been highlighted again with the occupation by a group of hunger strikers of United Nations offices in Santiago, the country's capital. The group, 24 women and two man, are all relatives of people who have disappeared. They are calling for an independent investigation into their case. A United Nations panel earlier this year accused the Chilean government of arresting, torturing and eliminating suspected opponents. On the day of the occupation (15 June) Chile's Justice Minister Senorita Monica Madariaga gave her view of the missing persons issue.
SYNOPSIS: She talked at the Justice Ministry building in Santiago. Senorita Madariaga, who's 35, is the only woman in the Chilean cabinet. She became Justice Minister in April.
Government spokesmen have denounced the hunger strike at the U.N. offices as an attempt to provoke adverse publicity for Chile to coincide with the meeting of the Organisation of American States being held in Grenada in the West Indies. Senorita Madariaga agreed that there were cases of missing persons in Chile. But she said they were all too often seen as human rights cases. People who broke the law and who must pay for their crimes, and people who had left home for personal reasons, also had to be taken into account, she said.
Senorita Madariaga claimed that she constantly received letters concerning missing people, but upon investigation it turned out that they were in their own homes with their families. She alleged that the campaign against human rights violations in Chile had been started by the Soviet Union.
The United Nations panel which reported on missing persons in Chile in February to the U.N. Human Rights Commission said security forces there had devised new and more secret methods of arrest, and government departments were either ignoring or denying them. Should the victim die of torture in these circumstances, he can be disposed of in secrecy, the report added.