After having ignored thousands upon thousands of court cases requesting justice during the reign of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean judges association has apologized at last for its inaction. Wednesday, the organization publicly recognized that judicial officials had failed their country during Pinochet’s 17-year rule. An estimated 3,200 people were killed under the dictator, and many more disappeared between 1973 and 1990. Authorities also believe 38,000 victims were ruthlessly tortured.

Al-Jazeera offers more details regarding the statement issued nearly 40 years after Pinochet’s military coup:

“To those who were victims of state abuse …the time has come to ask for the forgiveness of victims … and of Chilean society,” said the Chilean Judges’ Association.

It said the judges had ignored the plight of victims who had demanded their intervention.

“It must be said and recognised clearly and completely: the court system and especially the Supreme Court at that time, failed in their roles as safeguards of basic human rights, and to protest those who were victims of state abuse,” the judges said.

Chilean courts rejected about 5,000 cases seeking help on locating missing loved ones abducted or killed by the authorities, saying they had no information about their fate.

Hernan Larrain, a senator and former leader of the conservative Independent Democratic Union, has also asked for forgiveness on behalf of his party, stating, “This is my voice for reconciliation.”

Although the apologies are long overdue, they are positive steps toward acknowledging the suffering.

—Posted by Natasha Hakimi


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