Some progress was made in tackling impunity. However, legal representatives and others continued to receive threats and members of Congress presented proposals for amnesty laws for military and police personnel. Social protest, particularly at the failure of continuing economic growth to benefit the country’s poor, increased.
There were signs of growing intolerance by the government towards critics of its social, economic and environmental policies. Protests against some of these policies took place throughout the year and across the country; in some cases states of emergency were declared in affected provinces. Challapalca prison, which is situated over 4,600m above sea level, remained open despite statements by the Minister of Justice that it would be closed. The armed opposition group Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) remained active in parts of the country and there were reports of armed confrontations with the military.
"...progress in bringing to justice those responsible for past human rights violations was slow."
Right to health – maternal mortality
Some attempts were made to address gross inequality in access to maternal health services. However, Peru continued to have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the region and lacked a national plan of action to address the problem. In a report published in December, the National Ombudsperson’s Office recommended that the state co-ordinate and evaluate existing measures to reduce maternal mortality and update the national strategy for sexual and reproductive health as well as greatly increase monitoring of maternal mortality.
Human rights defenders and journalists
Government authorities attempted to discredit the work of human rights defenders. There was growing official intolerance of dissent in the face of heightened social protest and human rights defenders and journalists were threatened and harassed; some were attacked.
- President García publicly accused the Association for Human Rights (Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos, APRODEH) of “treason to the fatherland” after APRODEH made a statement to the European Parliament that they did not believe the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru, MRTA), an armed opposition group, was active. The European Parliament removed the MRTA from its list of terrorist organizations shortly afterwards. The Peruvian government immediately issued a decree withdrawing observer status in the National Council of Human Rights from the national coalition of human rights organizations (Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos) of which APRODEH is a member.
- In March, 35 people working to ensure communities in Piura province had access to information and were adequately consulted about projected mining activities were accused of offences including acts of terrorism, incitement to commit violence, public order offences, illicit association, conspiracy to commit a crime, torture, assault, kidnapping, and criminal damage. Among the accused were members of human rights NGOs, community leaders and local officials. In October, some of the most serious charges were dropped owing to insufficient evidence. However, the prosecution lodged an appeal and proceedings regarding the remaining charges were continuing at the end of the year.
Despite some advances, progress in bringing to justice those responsible for past human rights violations was slow. In August, five years after the publication of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Commission’s former president criticized the government’s failure to implement any of the recommended reforms. Two separate bills proposing amnesties for police and military personnel implicated in human rights violations were presented to Congress in November.
- Exhumations took place of the remains of 60 people killed by the military in the December 1984 massacre in Putis, Ayacucho department.
- In August, a Lima court closed the case of the massacre of some 100 people in the island prison of El Frontón in 1986 on the grounds that the statute of limitations could be applied. The Constitutional Court was set to review the decision later in the year but finally rejected the right of the human rights organization who presented the appeal to do so.
- The trial of former President Alberto Fujimori continued throughout 2008 and was expected to end in the first instance at the beginning of 2009.
- In April, a court found three agents and the former head of the National Intelligence Service, retired General Julio Salazar Monroe, guilty of the 1992 killings and enforced disappearance of nine students and a professor from the Enrique Guzmán y Valle University for Education in Lima, known as La Cantuta. The three received 15-year prison sentences; General Salazar received a 35-year sentence.
- In August the USA deported a former army officer wanted for his involvement in the massacre of 69 peasant farmers in Accomarca in August 1985. Another officer, already convicted in the USA in connection with the massacre, remained in prison in the USA awaiting the results of an extradition request.