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The Treatment of International Crimes in Chilean Jurisprudence: A Janus Face

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This article discusses how Chilean jurisprudence has reviewed the crimes perpetrated by the military regime that ruled Chile from 1973 to 1990. Because the Chilean legislation did not have a catalogue of international crimes until 2009, the jurisprudence had to prosecute the military regime's crimes as common offences—mainly as abductions and murders. After years of resistance to accept international principles, the attitude of higher courts, especially the Supreme Court, started to change in the nineties, consistent with the consolidation of the restored democracy. This change is especially reflected in the question of the validity of the prosecution of these crimes, which were hindered by an amnesty law issued in the period of the military regime and by the statute of limitations. As the Amnesty Law is no longer applicable, today the debate focuses on the non-applicability of the statute of limitations. All this has led to rulings with hybrid content: half domestic law, half international law, a Janus face — as the author mentions — that may be dangerous for the principle of legality.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Criminal Law, Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile


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