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Chile's government threatens to ‘regulate’ the human right to free assembly

CHILE’s right-wing government is working on a Bill to “regulate” the right to assembly, the country’s Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Hernan Larrain, has revealed.

Mr Larrain said the government was working with the “legal community” to provide “good legislation” for this “complex issue.” 

In a newspaper interview on Sunday he added that a bill, whose details were yet to be clarified, would be brought to congress during the first half of 2020.

The move comes after Santiago’s Metropolitan Council was accused of putting in place a “police takeover” of the capital’s Plaza Baquedano, where protesters have been gathering since anti-government demonstrations began in October.

Demonstrators labelled the action an act of repression and a further obstruction of their rights to assembly and protest.

Mr Larrain claimed there was a need to distinguish the difference between marching, mobilising and “public demonstrations”, and that the bill would help the government know “how to regulate the right to assembly without preventing the exercise of other similar rights.”

In December, the country's National Institute of Human Rights  warned that the repression of protests was the most serious human-rights violation in the 30 years since the end of Pinochet’s military dictatorship.

At least 29 people have died and thousands of protesters and bystanders have been hospitalised, including more than 350 with eye injuries from rubber bullets and pellets fired by police.

Demonstrations against the Chilean government  began in the capital on October 14, initially against an increase in subway fares. 

That measure was later revoked by President Sebastian Pinera, but protesters have continued to demand democratic change and an end to inequality.




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