Peru - Amnesty International Report 2007

Human Rights in REPUBLIC OF PERU

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Head of state and government: Alan García
Death penalty: abolitionist for ordinary crimes
International Criminal Court: ratified

Discrimination in the provision of maternal and infant health care to marginalized communities continued. Human rights defenders were threatened and intimidated. Some progress was made in bringing the perpetrators of human rights violations in previous years to justice. There were fears that the death penalty could be extended.


Newly elected President Alan García promised to implement austerity plans, including wage cuts for government officials and civil servants, and to increase expenditure to improve the living conditions of those in poverty. However, he did not commit himself to implement the National Human Rights Plan which was agreed by the government at the end of 2005.

Independent candidates won the majority of votes in the November regional and municipal elections.

The Constitutional Court ruled that some articles of the new legislation on the military and police justice system were unconstitutional because they violated principles of independence and impartiality. In December, Congress passed legislation allowing the military justice system to remain in force until June 2007.

The state of emergency declared in 2003 in various provinces in the departments of Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Cusco and Junín, remained in place. There were reports that the armed group Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) continued to be active in these areas.

Two leaders of Shining Path, Abimael Guzmán and Elena Iparraguirre, were sentenced in a civilian court to life imprisonment. Nine other high-ranking members of Shining Path were also sentenced to between 25 and 35 years' imprisonment. Two others were acquitted. All had previously been tried and convicted by military courts which were neither independent nor impartial.

Right to health

Hundreds of women and children from marginalized communities continued to die unnecessarily because of discrimination in the provision of maternal and infant health care. Despite the development of state health insurance for those on lower incomes, the scheme was not reaching many women and children from poor communities.

Maternal and child mortality rates remained among the highest in the region. In the rural areas the likelihood of dying from maternity-related causes was twice as high as in urban areas, and considerable differences persisted between urban and rural areas in access to medical care.

Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders, including victims of human rights violations and their relatives, witnesses, prosecutors and forensic experts, continued to be threatened and intimidated because of their activities. Threats were rarely investigated and none of the perpetrators were brought to justice.

Congress passed legislation which required non-governmental organizations seeking international funding to be supervised by government authorities who would assess whether their work complied with national development policies. There were concerns that this could restrict the work and independence of human rights defenders.

Environmental concerns

Scores of demonstrators were injured and one was shot dead during violent clashes with the police and security personnel of the Yanacocha gold mining project in Cajamarca Province. The demonstrators had blocked a road to protest against the environmental impact of El Azufre dry dock which was under construction by the project. Following this incident members of the non-governmental organization supporting the communities who opposed the gold mining project, Training and Intervention Group for Sustainable Development (Grupo de Formación e Intervención para el Desarrollo Sostenible, GRUFIDES), were repeatedly threatened and intimidated. One of those protesting against the project, environmentalist Edmundo Becerra Corina, was shot dead in Yanacanchilla, Cajamarca Province. He had reportedly received several death threats because of his opposition to the expansion of the mining company's activities to San Cirilo hills. The attack took place days before his meeting with the Ministry of Energy and Mines.

Death penalty

At the end of the year Congress was considering four draft bills, three of which would extend the scope of the death penalty to offences including the rape of children and of people with physical or mental disabilities, and the fourth draft bill would regulate the enforcement of the death penalty in cases of terrorism. Two of the bills also proposed the withdrawal of Peru from the American Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits the extension of the death penalty. At present the Constitution allows for the death penalty for treason in time of war and terrorism. No one had been sentenced to death since the current Constitution came into force in 1993.

Justice and impunity

Four police officers were sentenced to prison terms of between 15 and 16 years for the enforced disappearance of student Ernesto Castillo Páez in Lima in 1990. They were the first ever members of the security forces to be convicted of enforced disappearance.

The investigation and prosecution of the 47 cases of past human rights violations documented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made slow progress. According to the Ombudsman's Office, only two new cases went to trial in 2006, bringing the number of cases in the judicial system to 24. The rest of the 47 cases remained at the investigation stage at the end of the year.

The armed forces continued to refuse to co-operate with civilian courts trying and investigating military officers accused of past human rights violations.

Legislation was passed to grant legal aid to military officers accused of past human rights violations. No legal aid was granted to victims of violations and their relatives, despite reports that nearly 70 per cent of victims had no access to legal representation.

Congress passed the Regulation of the Comprehensive Reparation Plan to provide redress to victims of human rights violations during the 20-year armed conflict. The National Council of Reparations, responsible for creating an official registry of victims, was established in October.

Ollanta Humala, runner-up in the presidential elections, was charged with offences including murder and enforced disappearance committed when he was a captain at a military base in San Martín department, northern Peru, between 1991 and 1992. The investigation had not concluded by the end of the year.

For the third time, the Special Attorney's Office on Forced Disappearance, Extrajudicial Execution and Exhumations of Mass Graves closed the investigation into the alleged responsibility of President Alan García, former members of his cabinet and top-ranking military officers in the killing of at least 118 inmates by navy officers during a riot in 1986 at the El Fronton prison in Lima. Human rights organizations representing the victims' relatives and some of the survivors appealed against the decision. The appeal remained pending at the end of the year.

Inter-governmental organizations

The Committee against Torture expressed concern at continuing complaints of torture against the police, the military and prison officials, as well as allegations of reprisals, intimidation and threats against those who reported these violations. The Committee urged Peru to guarantee prompt, impartial and thorough investigations in the civilian criminal justice system.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern about high levels of poverty and urged Peru to take action to ensure universal access to basic goods and services, including housing and clean drinking water, paying special attention to remote and rural areas.

AI country reports/visits


Peru: Poor and excluded women - Denial of the right to maternal and child health (AI Index: AMR 46/004/2006)


AI delegates attended the III National Conference on the Right to Health in Lima in July.