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(New York) – Chilean President Michelle Bachelet made the case for Chile’s membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council during a visit to Human Rights Watch’s New York headquarters today.

“We believe that Chile has something to say and something to contribute to the consolidation of the work of the United Nations in this field,” Bachelet said in a speech to 60 guests and Human Rights Watch staff.

The president referred to her own experience as a victim of torture, one of thousands during Chile’s military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s, and said that Chile had learned the importance of human rights from the “darkest chapter” in its history.

Nunca más, never again, as we said in Chile after our experience in the 1970s and 80s,” Bachelet said. “And that is what we must also say in the United Nations, and act accordingly.”

Chile is one of three Latin American countries currently vying for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

“The timing of President Bachelet’s visit could not have been better,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, referring to the Chilean Supreme Court’s decision on September 21, 2007 to extradite former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori to stand trial for human rights and corruption charges in Peru. “The ruling was a judicial decision, but it reflects the considerable progress Chile has made on human rights, thanks to the efforts of abuse victims, civil society groups, and leaders like President Bachelet.”

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