Permanent Representation of Peru
                 to the

Organization of American States


"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:

— Government operations to combat subversion shall be conducted in strict accordance with the Constitution and the Laws of the Republic;

— No opportunity shall be lost and no effort stinted to win the organized sectors of the population over to the cause of democracy;

— The action of the Forces of Order shall be to dissuade; they shall take the offensive when faced by subversive forces, and shall always respect human rights;

— Individuals involved in subversive activities who are captured shall be placed at the disposal of the competent police authority;

— Every armed clash shall be reported immediately to the respective Command.

Directive 01-EMFA-PE-DI, of May 1987, entitled "On the Conduct of Military Personnel in Designated Emergency Areas," states that:

— All armed clashes and operations pertaining to countersubversion that result in persons being killed or wounded on either side, or taken into custody, or in other situations that raise a presumption of responsibility, must be reported to the Military Justice authorities by the established procedure;

— The Chief of the Office of Legal Counsel of the Ministry of Defense shall schedule periodic visits to the Legal Counsels of the major combat units and forces in emergency areas to monitor compliance with the present rules and to reiterate the instructions of the Command on the conduct prescribed for members of the Institution;

— The Inspectorate shall intervene to investigate defects and irregularities in operations, but not crimes against property, abuse of authority, negligence, against life or personal liberty, which shall be reported to the Military Justice authorities;

— It is to be ordered and rigorously verified that a report be made on every operation in which persons are killed or wounded, property is damaged, or any other action is committed for which an accounting could be required;

— For the identification of subversives killed in an armed clash, the patrol chief, in the absence of the military judge, must follow the established procedure;

— When subversives have been killed, their bodies must be identified or described and a report on the bodies drawn up by order of the military judge or patrol chief, which shall include a medical certification, whereupon the bodies shall be buried and a suitably detailed record made of the burial.

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:


HAVING SEEN resolution AG/RES. 778 (XV-0/85) 'Condemnation of terrorist methods and practices'; and


That the increase in indiscriminate and selective violence perpetrated by irregular armed groups in some states of the hemisphere demands that the new situations arising in that context be assessed responsibly, rigorously and impartially, with a view to monitoring more closely the protection of human rights in the region;

That such acts are assaults on human life and personal safety, undermine the well-being of democratic societies, cause serious damage to infrastructure and economic output, and hinder the full exercise of the civil, political, as well as economic, social and cultural rights of the peoples of the Americas;

That it should be emphasized that all obligations relating to the protection and promotion of human rights and the fundamental freedoms of the people must be observed at all times,


1. To reaffirm the condemnation of terrorist activities issued in resolution AG/RES. 775 (XV-O/85) by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States and its commitment to combat such illicit activity with full respect for the rule of law.

2. To express its most emphatic repudiation of the crimes perpetrated by irregular armed groups and its deep concern over the adverse effects of such acts on the enjoyment of human rights, endangering as they do the functioning and stability of democratic institutions in the hemisphere.

3. To recommend to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that in reporting on the status of human rights in the American states, it include reference to the action of irregular armed groups in such states."


Moreover, on March 7, 1990, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted resolution No. 1990/75 of similar content:

The Commission on Human Rights,

Reaffirming its responsibility for accurate and impartial analysis and for international monitoring of human rights,

Acknowledging the invaluable contribution made by nongovernmental organizations to the constant monitoring of all matters relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Deeply concerned at the increase in violence committed by irregular armed groups and drug traffickers in many countries,

Alarmed at the evidence of growing links between irregular armed groups and drug traffickers,

Observing that such acts adversely affect the well-being of peoples and cause serious damage to the infrastructure and economic production of countries,

Noting, in particular, that such acts prevent the unimpeded exercise of civil and political rights, such as participation in free elections, the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of association and trade union rights, as well as the exercise of economic, social and cultural rights,

Stressing that all international obligations relating to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms must be honored at all times,

Aware that other aspects of this problem are being dealt with appropriately in other United Nations bodies, such as the Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, the Commission for Social Development, and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs,

1. Expresses its deep concern at the adverse effects on the enjoyment of human rights of the crimes and atrocities committed in many countries by irregular armed groups, regardless of their origin, and by drug traffickers;

2. Requests all Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups to pay particular attention to the activities of irregular armed groups and drug traffickers in their forthcoming reports to the Commissions;

3. Requests the Secretary-General to collect information on this question from all relevant sources and to make it available to the Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups concerned for their consideration;

4. Decides to consider the question as a matter of high priority at its forty-seventh session.


HELD ON MARCH 7, 1990)

Hence the Government of Peru cannot help observing the trend in the international procedures for monitoring the observance of human rights toward consideration of the entire complex of circumstances that impede government action and lead occasionally to violations of human rights by agents of government not as a premeditated, deliberate policy on its part, but as an unfortunate consequence of the climate of violence generated by the action of subversive terrorist groups, which always have the initiative in disregarding and violating human rights.

Moreover, the Government of Peru has carefully studied advisory opinion No. OC-8/87 issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on January 30, 1987, and with all the respect that is due to its decisions, must say that it disagrees, for that opinion does not adequately reflect the commitment made by the Government of Peru in ratifying the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights.

In this regard it recalls the dictum of that Court that "an opinion of the Court...cannot be regarded as a judgment," and further on:

"It must be remembered that the advisory opinions of the Court and those of other international tribunals, because of their advisory character, lack the same binding force that attaches to decisions in contentious cases. (Article 68 of the Convention)" (OC-1/82)

The Government of Peru reserves to another occasion the option of explaining at greater length this dissent from opinion OC-8/87, which may be no means be interpreted as a desire to disregard the breadth of its legal obligation as determined in this context by the content of Article 27.2 of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights.

The defense of freedom, democracy and human rights is a never-ending task and demands constant vigilance. The Government of Peru is aware of this and has made the cause of human rights the most important permanent guiding principle of its policy, trusting that the international community will know how to appreciate fairly its firm resolve to bring about, despite the difficult situation it faces, the joint and fraternal participation of the entire Peruvian people in a nationwide movement to ensure that deep respect for human life and dignity shall prevail.

The Permanent Representation of Peru to the Organization of American States avails itself of the occasion to reiterate to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights assurances of its highest and most distinguished consideration."


Washington, D.C., September 18, 1990


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