Permanent Representation of Peru
NOTE NUMBER 7-5-M/150
"The Permanent Representation of Peru to the Organization of American States has the pleasure to address the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in connection with the letter to the Government of Peru approved at that Commission's 77th session in May of this year.
That letter has aroused the liveliest interest and constitutes a valuable attempt to address the situation in Peru and its challenges at the present day, and at the same time offers useful suggestions that are under careful evaluation and could contribute to a fuller realization of human rights and, in general, help at a good time to set the pacification process, an essential commitment of the Government of Peru, moving in the right direction.
Regarding the approach, concepts and recommendations in that important document, the Government of Peru considers it necessary to share with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights the following information and thoughts.
A balanced assessment of the situation in Peru must inexorably address the complex phenomenon of violence. Its sources are diverse, and various its forms. From the elementary forms that occur in family life and interpersonal relations to severe and elaborate acts of political violence, committed primarily in terrorism and drug trafficking. Violence is probably one of the most visible characteristics of present-day Peruvian society, and doubtlessly a leading factor for acceleration of the crisis in which the country is now steeped.
To address violence which largely impairs the observance of human rights is to concern oneself with the realities and sociopolitical processes that have engendered it. Like that of many a developing country, the society of Peru still contains social and economic structures characterized by pronounced inequalities of income distribution. The result is poverty and injustice, which generate social tensions, interpersonal conflicts, and a proclivity in certain people and groups to react violently against the Government. As a result, extreme options emerge which reject dialogue and constructive inputs in any form and seek to destroy the democratic system and the rule of law.
The Government of Peru is striving to implement a policy of change in freedom, aware that unless the present material, economic, social and cultural conditions are changed, an enduring solution to the violence will be very hard to find, and human rights will not become a living reality, the birthright of us all, and the basis for peace and development.
This arduous challenge is being taken up, by the almost unanimous will of the Peruvians, in a setting of democracy. As can be verified by international public opinion and the diplomatic missions accredited in Lima, the country is under constitutional rule. All civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights are recognized by law and protected by the appropriate legal resources in absolute compliance with Article 10 of the Constitution, which states that the individual is the supreme object of society and Government.
The political parties are unencumbered by any restriction whatever. Freedom of the press and information is complete. The right of the people to organize is backed by law. Workers exercise their labor rights freely, and follow the most widely diverse ideological lines. The social-democrat, socialist, social Christian, liberal, conservative and Marxist lines are expressed through their own parties. They participate periodically in free elections, which have been held three times in the last two years in Peru: municipal elections nationwide, and two rounds of voting in the last presidential election, proof of the faith and confidence of the Peruvian people in the democratic system, which in its pluralism guarantees to dissidents legitimate channels for freedom of expression.
However, in addition to the economic and social challenges that beset a developing country enmeshed in a severe economic crisis, the peruvian Government and people are faced in some areas of the country with terrorist action by irregular groups that are the perpetrators and instigators of the active violence that today rages in Peru, and the greatest culprits in the severe violations of the most elemental rights of the peruvian population.
Hence it is necessary to explain the profile and characteristics of a certain kind of violence being committed in Peru, and of terrorism in particular, to correct wrong information and incomplete analyses that seek to sublimate this terrorist violence into a "Peasant Revolution for the Liberation of Peru" or to equate it to the liberation movements fighting against apartheid, occupation forces and tyrannical governments, and those who practice it to groups with popular roots and altruistic motives, fighting a civil war to win justice and liberty.
The terrorist groups in Peru have emerged from a reading, interpretation and use of the buildup of poverty, injustice and inequality that stain much of the history of Peru. However, those groups have merely taken advantage of structural violence, and have done nothing to eliminate that structural violence. They are weak in programs, confused in their understanding of history, and lacking the most elementary qualifications to govern, and hence their efforts are all bent on destruction. Indeed, today, after ten years of terrorism, they have only succeeded in impoverishing the peruvian people even more. The most distinctive feature of terrorism in Peru today is its increasing self-containment: terrorism can no longer be described in terms of the preexisting structural violence, but has acquired a dynamic of its own in which one crime leads to another and the condition of its existence is terrorism itself, one which it generates in upon itself to preserve its cohesion and security and another outward as an expression of vitality and forward movement.
In 1989 alone there were 2,117 attacks, that is, acts of terrorist violence on life, public safety and property in general, and to intimidate and challenge the authority of the Government. In that year terrorist groups, chiefly Shining Path units, murdered 700 campesinos and 144 public servants: 52 mayors and 92 officials (presidents of development corporations, judges, governors, lieutenant governors, provincial prosecutors, and one priest, among others). These grim facts appear to cause no concern in and arouse no protest from so many nongovernmental organizations that claim to protect human rights. The Government of Peru considers that this unequal treatment in the area of human rights is an offense to the upright moral conscience. The terrorist does not cease to be a human being for being a terrorist, and he is therefore entitled to inalienable human rights which must be respected. It is, on the other hand, unfair to be silent or indifferent when a member of the Armed Forces or the Police, or a distinguished citizen or campesino, a prosperous entrepreneur or a worker, is murdered with great cruelty by terrorist groups without any person or human rights organization raising a voice in protest and condemnation. This unjust behavior suggests the existence of a double standard and a kind of selective indignation, for protests multiply in the unusual case of a violation of human rights attributable to the Government or its agents, but when such a violation is directly and deliberately committed by terrorist groups the response is silence.
The main objective of terrorist subversion is to paralyze economic activity in the country. This means eliminating the basic centers of production, blowing up power transmission towers, sabotaging mines, roads, universities and research centers, and destroying infrastructure in general, with the aim of disrupting the country's economy. The economic cost of this violence is estimated at 3,200 million dollars in 1989 alone.
This is all part of a strategic plan for the ultimate objective of imposing a dictatorship in disregard of the popular will and human rights.
In view of these facts, which will doubtlessly be corroborated by any dispassionate observer of the situation in Peru, the policy and practice of the peruvian Government is to defend democracy and the rule of law by the means allowed in the Constitution and the law. In the name of the common good, order, safety and legally protected property. The peruvian Government prohibits, represses, punishes and holds a monopoly on legitimate violence under the ethical and legal rules to which it is subject.
The peruvian Government cannot remain immobile and unarmed, for this would be to abdicate its obligations in face of the disorder and anarchy in the country, and to surrender to groups that have risen up in arms against the will of the people and the nation. The peruvian Government has a moral and legal obligation to react and defend itself against terrorism as an illegal, illegitimate and immoral form of political violence that through a variety of crimes strikes at Peruvian society, diminishes it in its rightful demands for change and seriously impairs the possibilities for building any democracy in Peru in the present or future.
In its struggle against terrorism, the Armed Forces are obliged to abide by a series of provisions and directives that the Government has approved to ensure respect for and observance of human rights in keeping with the primacy with which those rights are invested in the peruvian Constitution. There are rules and provisions requiring everybody in the Armed Forces, from commanders to recruits, to be clearly aware of their duties and obligations in regard to human rights.
Directive 01-86-SND, of February 1986, entitled "For the Strategic Planning of Countersubversion," provides that:
Directive 01-EMFA-PE-DI, of May 1987, entitled "On the Conduct of Military Personnel in Designated Emergency Areas," states that:
However, when the peruvian Government exercises the right to defend itself, excesses and abuses are sometimes committed. These excesses and abuses, when they have occurred, have been isolated cases and not part of a Government policy or systematic violation of human rights on the part of Government agents in their war on subversion. These cases have been investigated, and when guilt has been established punishment has followed with all the rigor that the law allows.
On this score the Government of Peru would like to draw attention to the immensity of the task of investigating the host of complaints of violations of human rights for a developing country beleaguered by economic crisis and the onslaughts of terrorism.
In the case of disappearances, for example, getting at the truth about persons alleged to have "disappeared" takes a great deal of time. When the persons alleged to have "disappeared" are Andean campesinos, who speak no Spanish, are not formally entered on the registers of civil status, have no known or permanent abode, no military or electoral identification document, and migrate in search of employment or for fear of violence, the investigation is inexorably slow-moving. This is aggravated by the fact that most complaints are incomplete, the name is misspelled, the circumstances of the "disappearance" unclear, and its date and place vague.
Moreover, it is very important to consider that the terrorists have a whole strategy for delaying, hindering and nullifying all countersubversive operations of the Armed Forces by trying to represent them as the sole causes of massive human rights violations. To do this they frequently follow a series of procedures designed to discredit at home and abroad the Forces that carry out legal repression: committing kidnappings, murders and robberies in the uniforms of the military institutions, forced recruitment of persons who are then reported as "disappeared" by the Armed Forces, the fabrication of "disappearances" of nonexistent persons to overload the investigative facilities, in which one person using different names reports the "disappearance" of different persons who have never existed, and the commission of murders with evidence planted to incriminate the Armed Forces.
The peruvian authorities are thus obliged to spend time and valuable resources investigating complaints that would be inadmissible under domestic law because they fail to meet the minimum requirements stated in the Code of Criminal Procedure, but which it is essential to clear up because Peru respects international authorities and procedures even though it feels that the requirements for admissibility have become too loose and that, while humanitarian considerations must prevail, they must not do so to the detriment of the essential minimum of guarantees to which governments are entitled that are charged with violations of human rights.
The Government of Peru now wishes to refer to two legal issues raised in the confidential letter of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The Government of Peru takes note of the Commission's affirmative reply "within certain limits" to the question: "Do the existence of terrorists and threats of subversion of public order influence the Commission's assessments or evaluations of the observance of human rights in a country?"
There is certainly no question of the Commission's having to investigate complaints of such violations of human rights in terrorist acts committed by subversive groups in the formal sense in which it is called upon to examine complaints against governments; but asking it to give due attention to this matter can in no way be interpreted as "asking it to raise the international status of such groups and support their propaganda."
The Government recalls the resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) at its latest session in Asunción, Paraguay, which reads as follows:
(RESOLUTION APPROVED AT THE 20TH
Moreover, on March 7, 1990, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted resolution No. 1990/75 of similar content:
(RESOLUTION APROVED AT THE 54TH