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UN rights experts urge Chilean police to shelve feminist protesters complaint

Credit: REUTERS/Mary Calvert

Chilean police should drop a criminal case against feminist collective Lastesis whose anti-violence song and dance routine "A Rapist In Your Path" inspired performances around the world, a group of UN experts said on Monday.

By Fabian Cambero and Aislinn Laing

SANTIAGO, Aug 24 (Reuters) - Chilean police should drop a criminal case against feminist collective Lastesis whose anti-violence song and dance routine "A Rapist In Your Path" inspired performances around the world, a group of UN experts said on Monday.

Police in the coastal city of Valparaiso laid a complaint with prosecutors in June against four named members of the group over a video posted on YouTube in which they allegedly said "fire for the cops."

Police said the women, who were filmed standing outside a police station in masks, were inciting violence against their institution.

The UN experts, volunteer members of the working group on discrimination against women and girls for the body's Human Rights Council, said Lastesis had been instrumental in denouncing police and gender violence in Chile.

“The group and the song have become a symbol of the universal demand of women to be able to live a life free of violence,” they added. “We fear prosecution of Lastesis could have a chilling effect on women in many other countries who are standing up for their human rights."

The group said it had raised the issue with the Chilean government and was awaiting a response.

Lastesis' "A Rapist In Your Path" rose to prominence in November last year during intense social protests against inequality and elitism that were marked by massive marches but also clashes with police and looting and arson attacks.

The unrest resulted in at least 31 people killed, 3,000 injured, and 30,000 detained. Prosecutors are probing allegations of abuse made by over 5,000 people against the security forces.

Lastesis in May signed a joint declaration with the Russian feminist protest group Pussy Riot calling for action to stop "police violence."

Thirty Hollywood actresses including Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, Milla Jovovich and Olivia Wilde have also signed an open letter calling for the case against Lastesis to be dropped.

(Reporting by Fabian Cambero and Aislinn Laing; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

((Aislinn.Laing@thomsonreuters.com; +56 223704250;))

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