Practice Relating to Rule 159. Amnesty
Section A. Amnesty for participation in non-international armed conflicts
In Chile, during the military government, the Decree-Law on General Amnesty (1978) extended an amnesty to:
all persons who have been the authors, accomplices, or accessories of unlawful deeds during the period in which the state of siege was in force, between 11 September 1973 and 10 March 1978, unless they are currently being tried or have been sentenced and to those persons who as of the date that this decree-law took effect have been sentenced by military tribunals since 11 September 1973.
In its decision on annulment in the Víctor Raúl Pinto case in 2007, Chile’s Supreme Court stated:
In non-international armed conflicts, those who raise arms against a legitimate government are subject to the penal sanctions imposed by the State in question since legally they do not have the right to participate in combat or to take up arms. If they nonetheless do raise arms in such circumstances, they thereby commit crimes such as rebellion or sedition. These crimes are punishable under domestic law since the application of international humanitarian law in internal [armed] conflict does not imply the recognition of belligerence, nor does it change the legal status of the parties to the conflict (since the government in question is not compelled to grant the status of prisoners of war to its [captured] opponents) nor does it suspend the applicability of domestic criminal law. In contrast to international armed conflicts, there is no “combatant privilege” [in internal armed conflict] … It is precisely for this reason that Article 2(2) of [the 1977 Additional] Protocol II extends humanitarian protection to persons who have been deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the internal conflict.
In such circumstances, one can understand the reasons for a rule that, after the end of an [internal armed] conflict, the government in power should grant as broad an amnesty as possible due to reasons related to the conflict. This is what clearly emerges from the text and context of the provision, namely that the purpose of the amnesty would be to facilitate the re-establishment of social peace by supporting the defeated in the conflict who are in the hands of those who hold the power in the State, facilitating the restoration of peace in that society.