Thirty-three people were killed, including 23 police officers, and at least 200 protesters were injured when police dispersed a road blockade led by members of Indigenous communities. Indigenous leaders were intimidated and harassed. Human rights defenders continued to be threatened. Violations of women’s sexual and reproductive rights remained a concern.
Throughout the year, there was increasing social unrest and discontent over government policies, in particular in relation to extractive projects and legislation on the use of resources and land. This led to nationwide mobilizations and strikes that paralysed the country for weeks.
The armed opposition group Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) remained active in some parts of the Andean region and there were reports of armed confrontations with the military and police.
Indigenous Peoples’ rights
Thousands of Indigenous demonstrators staged a road blockade for more than 50 days in the Amazon region in protest against a series of decree laws, which, they argued, affected their fundamental right to land and resources and thus their livelihoods.
Excessive use of force and ill-treatment
On 5 June, 33 people, including 23 police officers, were killed and at least 200 protesters were injured as the police intervened to disperse the road blockade. Police used excessive force to disperse the crowd, injuring and killing bystanders. Protesters killed 11 police officers whom they were holding hostage, and another 12 during the police operation. The whereabouts of a police official who participated in the operation remained unknown at the end of the year. In the aftermath, scores of detainees reported ill-treatment by police.
At least 18 people faced charges for disturbances during the protests and the killing and injuring of police officers, but little progress was made in bringing to justice members of the security forces responsible for human rights violations against protesters. In addition, six Indigenous leaders were charged with rebellion, sedition and conspiracy against the state, charges which appeared not to be based on reliable evidence.
Legal and institutional developments
Four working groups, which included representatives of Indigenous Peoples, were set up to investigate the violence that occurred on 5 June, review the decree laws which sparked the protests, issue recommendations for a mechanism for consultation with Indigenous Peoples, and propose a National Plan of Development in the Amazon. In December, the Commission set up by the working group investigating the 5 June clashes presented its report to the Ministry of Agriculture. However, two members of the Commission, including its president, refused to endorse the report on the grounds that the Commission lacked the necessary time and resources to conduct full investigations and that the report lacked impartiality.
In January, photographs were published relating to the ill-treatment of 29 people, and the killing of one man while in detention in 2005 following protests against a British mining project in the north-west of the country. The protesters alleged that they were tortured by police and the mine’s security guards. In March 2009, the Public Prosecutor charged police officers with torture, but decided not to pursue either the mining company or its security guards. However, the victims brought an action against the company in the UK and in October a High Court injunction was issued against Monterrico Metals in the UK. The High Court ruling was pending at the end of the year.
In December, police shot dead two men and injured eight other villagers in Cajas-Canchaque, Carmen de la Frontera district, Huancabamba province. Police reportedly opened fire during an operation to arrest one of those suspected of involvement in an arson attack on a Rio Blanco Copper encampment on 1 November in which three mine employees were killed.
Some measures were taken to reduce maternal mortality, which remained high in rural areas and among Indigenous Peoples. In March a National Plan for the Reduction of Maternal Mortality was introduced which included measures to increase access to health facilities, including emergency obstetric care, and improve community participation. However, there were concerns about how this plan would link up with existing policies.
Sexual and reproductive rights
Steps were taken towards decriminalizing abortion in certain circumstances, including when the pregnancy is the result of rape.
In November, however, the Constitutional Tribunal ruled that the state could not distribute or sell oral emergency contraception. This ruling disadvantaged women on low incomes unable to afford this contraception, which remained available in chemists.
The rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
Lesbian, gay and transgender people continued to face discrimination and ill-treatment.
- In January, Techi, a transgender woman, was kidnapped and tortured by members of a local neighbourhood watch patrol in the town of Tarapoto, San Martín province. The trial of three people accused of carrying out the attack on Techi was continuing at the end of the year.
Human rights defenders
Human rights defenders were threatened and intimidated. The authorities failed to send a clear message that such acts would not be tolerated or to ensure effective investigations into these threats. In September, an anonymous caller threatened to poison human rights defender and former president of the 2001 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Salomón Lerner Febres; his two guard dogs had been poisoned earlier that month.
- In September, human rights defender Gisela Ortiz Perea was accused in a national newspaper of being a leading member of Shining Path in what appeared to be an attempt to intimidate her for her continued support to victims of human rights violations during the government of Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000).
In April, former President Alberto Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment for grave human rights violations. However, impunity remained a concern. Scores of cases of reported killings by police officers were not investigated amid serious concerns that a 2007 decree law was being used to prevent investigations into alleged extrajudicial executions. The decree law reformed the Penal Code and exempts from prosecution police officers who injure or kill suspects while on duty.
There was no progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2001 Truth and Reconciliation Commission set up to investigate human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict (1980-2000).
Little progress was made regarding the 1,000 cases of past human rights violations filed with the Public Prosecutor’s Office since 2003. The Ministry of Defence continued to withhold information on cases involving military personnel.
The Reparations Council, a body set up in 2006 to create a record of victims of human rights violations during the two decades of internal armed conflict so that they could claim reparation, had to suspend its work in November owing to lack of resources.