Human Rights of Older Persons

In Chile, older persons have historically been a vulnerable segment in society for different reasons such as poverty, abandonment, abuse, disability, chronic diseases or simply aging, placing them in a drawback position that affects the full and effective exercise of their rights. The recognition of older persons as subjects of law is today a milestone in Chile’s policy, which is aimed to advance in a solid public institutional structure that acknowledges them and protects their necessities and their effective inclusion in society.

The National Institute for the Elderly (SENAMA, by its acronym in Spanish) carries out this mission through active policies, plans and projects with an intersectoral and inter-institutional coordination.

SENAMA actively promotes a cultural change in the perspective towards the elderly and what aging means. In this context, the First Lady of Chile Mrs. Cecilia Morel, leads the project called Programa Adulto Mejor, focused on promoting that cultural change based on a positive and inclusive vision on this stage of the cycle of people’s lives, seeking to promote the older persons participation in all areas of life.

In addition, various other actions have been developed to promote the rights of the elderly, as well as their respect, integration and judicial protection.

In 2018, was installed an office for Human Rights and Good Treatment which coordinates the implementation of actions for the benefit of the elderly and that involves the three branches of government, the academia and civil society. As an example of the aforementioned, an agreement was signed with the Supreme Court for the promotion, respect and protection of the elderly through a Training of Trainers program. This program aims to train older people to teach other elders about human rights based in the content of the Inter-American Convention on the Protection of the Rights of Older Persons.

Furthermore, in 2019 was created the Office of the Ombudsman for the Elderly. Its mandate aims to grant legal advice to older people in situations of violations of their rights. In turn, the office of the Ombudsman for the Elderly is also enabled to establish links with public or private entities in order to promote a better defense of the rights of the elderly.

Another measure is the signing of an agreement with the Attorney General’s Office, which promotes timely police reports and investigations of deaths of older persons who are under the custody of governmental agencies and other collaborating institutions.

Ties have also been strengthened with the academic world and the community for the generation of timely responses to violations of the rights of the elderly. Thus, there is an agreement with various Law Schools and Foundations to create specialized Legal Clinics. This is a replicable experience that accounts for the set of efforts aimed at the cultural change towards the elderly, both at the governmental and social levels.

These are examples of successful measures that promote the rights of the elderly with participatory and concrete public policies that strengthen inter-generational integration for a dignified older population with full and inalienable rights.

Combating discrimination on gender identity.

In many parts of the world, discrimination and intolerance of people with diverse gender identities are one of the fundamental causes behind serious violations of their rights. Chile was not exempt from that reality.

For that, Chile decided to take action in order to empower people, and institutionally recognizing a basic right such as gender identity.

The State has the responsibility to protect human beings, at any time and place without discrimination of any kind, and we have the obligation to recognize and respect the diverse realities that make up a heterogeneous society.

The Chilean Parliament approved a Gender Identity Law on September 12, in line to international parameters of human rights, but also takes into consideration the social and political needs of those who see in its enactment the recognition by the State of their gender identity and, in particular, a dignified and respectful treatment according to their condition.

National agreement for the Araucania

Chile achieved a national agreement for the region of Araucania and launched an integrated approach to guarantee fundamental economic and social rights of all the inhabitants of the region.