September 29, 1989


I have the honor to advise you that in its 76th session the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights examined with special care the status of human rights in Peru on the basis of the report presented by the Special Committee that visited Peru from 8 to 12 May 1989. This examination produced recommendations that the Inter-American Commission wishes to share with the Government of Peru and were initially made by the Special Committee in its interview with Your Excellency at the end of its stay.

First, Excellency, allow me to thank you on behalf of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for the facilities provided by the Government of Peru to enable the Special Committee to do its work. Despite the difficult situation at the time of the visit, the efforts made by the staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of the operational aspects made it possible to solve the problems that arose, for which we are particularly grateful.

The Commission notes with pleasure that after the visit the Government of Peru has begun to account in some measure for some of the cases in progress on which the Commission had asked for information. The Commission expects that the institutional problems that had prevented smooth communication by the Government of Peru with the Commission can be surmounted so that the procedure provided in the American Convention on Human Rights may be properly complied with.

The situation found during the visit, Excellency, prompts the Commission to stress the need that the rules on human rights be given a central position in the functions of the Armed Forces in their struggle with the irregular groups. If this struggle is waged indiscriminately, by methods similar to those used by those groups, the civilian population will not be able to respond to the forces of order because they will feel themselves captive to a situation produced through no fault of their own and, finding themselves unprotected from aggression from either side, will act erratically. Moreover, the Armed Forces are called upon to defend the Constitution and the laws, and this high function may not be brought to naught by the use of methods that they specifically prohibit.

It is the Inter-American Commission's experience that there is no possibility of successfully controlling situations such as the one that afflicts Peru if there is no deep awareness of the need to respect the human rights of the population involved. Nothing can justify torture, summary execution or forced disappearance of persons by the forces of order; indeed, these serious acts only deepen the evils they are intended to combat. The emergence of paramilitary groups is a source of profound concern to the Commission, which begs to remind Your Excellency that, pursuant to article 1.1 of the American Convention on Human Rights, the Government of Peru is obligated not only to respect the rights enshrined in it, but also to guarantee that those rights are exercised to the full.

A matter of particular interest to the Inter-American Commission has been the aspects of the situation of several human rights in the emergency areas. The Commission notes with particular satisfaction that some recommendations made during the visit to Ayacucho have been implemented, such as allowing the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit the places of detention in the emergency areas. The Commission expects that this measure will remain in force, for it regards it as a guarantee of the prevention of abuses that might be committed on persons while they are deprived of their liberty. The Commission will continue to observe the development of the situation and keep the Government of Peru informed.

As Your Excellency was told by the Special Committee, the Commission has been advised that arrests are still being made in the emergency areas without adherence to the legal formalities or informing the families of the detainees of where they have been sent. These arrests violate the right to personal liberty and constitute a basis for holding the Government responsible for forced disappearances of persons.

Closely connected with this are two phenomena that impair human rights. Firstly, the existing legal and institutional resources for safeguarding the right to personal liberty have been weakened, and in some cases have become virtually inoperative. The Judiciary continues to labor under severe material and de facto limitations on the proper performance of its functions. The Special Committee was informed of the standing risk to the lives of judicial personnel and requests the Government of Peru to have the forces of order do everything possible to give them the security and protection they require.

The other phenomenon involved in the lack of formalities precedent to arrest is associated with the problem of humane treatment. The Special Committee was able to see the particularly grave situations of persons who had been subjected to very severe torture and mistreatment while illegally deprived of their liberty. The families of the victims feared that they would be killed to conceal the identities of the perpetrators of these grave violations. The Inter-American Commission attaches utmost importance to the cessation of these practices, of which the Military Forces stand accused. The best way to accomplish this, in compliance with articles 8 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights, is to strengthen the Judiciary and the functions of the Prosecuting Attorneys.

The Special Committee took cognizance of the important work done by the Special Prosecutors in the emergency areas in their efforts to defend the rights of individuals and the prevention of any possible violations. The Commission attaches special importance to the facilities that the Government of Peru is able to provide to the Prosecutors and to the building of proper working relations between them and the officers of the political-military commands.

The Special Committee was also able to give Your Excellency its opinion that the members of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) should be separated from the common criminals with which they share a cellblock in the Canto Grande prison. The Commission's information indicates to it that there are practical possibilities of bringing this about, and that it would help improve the conditions of detention of this group of prisoners. The Special Committee was gratified to hear Your Excellency agree on the urgency of doing this.

Lastly, the Commission wishes to reiterate its concern over the rising recourse to violence and terrorism as methods for the settlement of political disputes. While the Inter-American Commission is aware both of the deep roots of that violence and of the reprehensible resources, based on terror as a method of social control, used by irregular bands, it is beyond the Commission's mandate to make specific recommendations in this area.

The Commission will continue to watch with special attention the development of the human rights situation in Peru. In this work it hopes for the collaboration of Your Excellency's Government.

I reiterate the Inter-American Commission's appreciation for the facilities provided to it during its visit, which I hope will mark the beginning of a fruitful exchange with the Government of Peru.

Accept, Excellency, renewed assurances of my most distinguished consideration.


His Excellency
Guillermo Larco Cox
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Lima, Peru


Oliver Jackman

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