Alberto Fujimori, the former President of Peru, has been convicted of a series of human rights violations. Amnesty International has hailed the verdict as a crucial milestone in the global struggle against impunity.
The 70-year-old was found responsible for two sets of killings by a military hit squad: a 1991 raid on a barbecue where 15 people were slain and the enforced disappearance of nine students and a professor at La Cantuta University the following year. He was also found responsible for the kidnap of a businessman and a journalist in 1992.
"Justice has been done in Peru," said Amnesty International special adviser Javier Zuniga, who had been monitoring the trial in Lima. "This is an historic day. It’s not every day that we see a former head of state being convicted for human rights violations such as torture, kidnapping and enforced disappearances. We hope that it’s just the first of many trials in both Latin America and throughout the world."
The decision was unanimously adopted by the three presiding judges. It concluded that Fujimori bore individual criminal responsibility in all three cases because he had effective military command over those who committed the crimes.
Peru’s Supreme Court had investigated the former President's role in the cases of Barrios Altos (in which 15 men, women and children executed), La Cantuta (in which 10 people were kidnapped and later killed) and the SIE basements (where two kidnap victims were held).
"Now it is vital that all those responsible for human rights violations committed in Peru, including those perpetrated prior to the government of Alberto Fujimori, be brought before the courts," said Javier Zuniga.
"Enforced disappearances, torture and rape are crimes that are not subject to statute of limitations if they are committed on a widespread basis, as happened in Peru."
Amnesty International has incontrovertibly established that serious human rights violations and crimes against international law – such as torture, killings and enforced disappearance - were committed under the government of Alberto Fujimori. Given their widespread and systematic nature, these constituted crimes against humanity.