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Chile: Law Enacted Adopting Criminal Penalties for Public Disruptions and Violence

(Mar. 10, 2020) On January 30, 2020, Law No. 21,208 enacted Chile’s “Anti-looting law,” amending the Penal Code to impose criminal penalties for looting and actions that threaten the freedom of movement of people on public roads through violence and intimidation.

Under the new Law, setting up barricades, looting, and other violent practices that have occurred during the social turmoil that erupted in the country in October 2019 are now subject to criminal penalties. The amendment also sanctions the recent disruptive practice called “he who dances, passes,” which involves preventing of passage of vehicles in public streets unless the driver gets out and dances to the songs of the protesters.

The new article 268 septies of the Penal Code  now provides that anyone who disrupts the free movement of people or vehicles on public streets through violence, intimidation, or the installation of street obstacles is punishable by minor imprisonment in its minimum degree—that is, from 61 to 301 days. The same penalty applies to anyone who obstructs passage on a public street with his or her own vehicle to make it impossible for others to circulate, except in cases of accidents or mechanical problems.

Similar penalties would apply to anyone who throws instruments, utensils, or sharp or blunt objects, which could potentially cause death or bodily injury to people or vehicles that are on public roads, unless the action constitutes a more serious crime entailing more severe penalties.

Article 449 ter of the Penal Code increases the criminal penalty for the crime of looting when the theft or robbery occurs in the context of calamities or public unrest.

In cases involving repeat offenders, the judge may consider this circumstance sufficient to impose the maximum penalty.