Today, October 31, 1991, marked the end of the visit that the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights made to Peru, at the
Government's invitation, to observe the human rights situation in the
country. The visit was made by the Commission's full membership,
including Dr. Patrick Robinson, its Chairman; Dr. Marco Tulio Bruni
Celli, its First Vice Chairman; Dr. Oscar Luján Fappiano, its Second
Vice Chairman; and members Dr. Gilda M.C.M. de Russomano, Dr. Leo
Valladares Lanza and Professor Michael Reisman.
Ambassador Oliver Jackman was unable to take part in the visit.
The Commission was assisted by its Executive Secretary, Dr.
Edith Márquez Rodríguez, and by attorneys from the Commission's
Executive Secretariat--Dr. Luis F. Jiménez, Dr. Bertha Santoscoy-Noro,
and Dr. Jorge Seal Sasiain. Mr.
Marcelo Montesinos served as the Commission's interpreter, while Mrs.
Gabriela Hageman, Elsa Ergueta and Nora E. Anderson provided
During the visit, the Inter-American Commission met with Ing.
Alberto Fujimori, President of the Republic; with Dr. Carlos Torres y
Torres Lara, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the Council
of Ministers; with Dr. Augusto Antonioli Vásquez, Minister of
Justice; with Peruvian Army Division General Víctor Malca Villanueva,
Minister of the Interior; Peruvian Army Division General Jorge Torres
Aciego, Minister of Defense; with the Joint Command of the Armed
Forces, under Air Force General Arnaldo Velarde, and the General
Commandant of the Navy, Admiral Alfredo Arnaiz Ambrossiani, and the
Commander General of the Army, Peruvian Army General Pedro Villanueva
Valdivia; with Dr. César Fernández Arce, President of the Supreme
Court; with Dr. Pedro Méndez Jurado, Attorney General of the Nation,
and with Dr. Clodomiro Chávez, Prosecutor for Human Rights and Public
During the visit, two subcommittees journeyed to the interior,
one to Tarapoto and Tocache, and the other to the cities of Ayacucho
and Huancayo. In Tarapoto,
the subcommittee met with the Political-Military Commander of the
emergency zone, with representatives of the Moyobambo Prelate's Office
of Social Work and with members of the San Martin Peace Commission,
with relatives of disappeared detainees and with clergy from the
Pastoral Center. It also
visited Cordesan, the National Police, and the Tarapoto Prison, where
it spoke with a number of those being held in confinement.
In Tocache, the subcommittee met with military, political,
judicial and police authorities.
The subcommittee that traveled to Ayacucho and Huancayo met
with government, military and judicial authorities and with
representatives of the Catholic Church and of human rights
The Commission also met with members of Congress and with
institutions whose purpose is to defend and promote human rights:
the National Coordinator for Human Rights; the Andean
Commission of Jurists and the Episcopal Social Work Commission. The Inter-American Commission also received individuals and
members of institutions representative of Peruvian society, the
Commission of Relatives of the Disappeared (COFADER), journalists and
officials of press agencies, and the Association of Peruvian Lawyers
for Democracy. It also
visited the Castro Castro Penal Center.
This visit to Peru follows an earlier visit made by two members
back in May 1989. Individual
cases have also been processed and decisions adopted thereon.
The contacts during this visit enabled the Inter-American
Commission to get a firsthand look at the complex and sensitive human
rights situation in Peru and to compile valuable information that will
be used for the Special Report now being prepared.
The Commission saw the evidence of the violence of the conflict
afflicting Peru and received abundant testimony demonstrating how much
the people have suffered, especially those caught in the middle
between the conflict's chief protagonists.
The Commission was informed of the utterly reprehensible
tactics used by those persons, groups or institutions that would
achieve their political ends even at the cost of the individual's
inalienable rights. Subordinating
the individual's inalienable rights to political ends is the
distinctive feature of those who operate in this way.
Hence, the Commission would again assert what it said in the
press communique released at the end of its 1989 visit:
neither the struggle to conquer poverty and build a new State
nor defense of democratic institutions can, under any circumstances,
justify recourse to selective assassination, summary execution,
destruction of the means of production, torture, forced disappearance
of persons and the use of terror as a method of public control.
Those willing to work for a political settlement, at as little
cost to the public as possible, will find this difficult to accomplish
so long as such vile tactics are being used.
By the same token, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights finds that there is an overriding need to humanize the
conflict. Working within its basic legal framework, provided by the
Charter of the Organization of American States, the American
Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and the American
Convention on Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission will
continue to examine, with ever increasing scrutiny, the acts of
violence committed by groups of armed irregulars and the blame that
follows therefrom. In
this regard, the Commission's premise is that no individual, group or
State can, by its conduct, violate any of the rights recognized in the
American Declaration and the American Convention on Human Rights.
The Commission is calling upon all Peruvians to respect the
rights guaranteed by those instruments.
The Commission paid close attention to the comments describing
how the living conditions of the Peruvian people have severely
deteriorated and the negative impact this has had on the enjoyment of
their economic, social and cultural rights.
It was deeply disturbed to hear how this situation is
exacerbating the social conditions linked to the evolution of the
present conflict. The
Inter-American Commission believes that one of the key elements in the
policies adopted to correct the economy must be satisfaction of the
economic, social and cultural rights, especially among those sectors
most severely affected. The
Commission expresses its full support for the work being conducted by
humanitarian organizations to correct the poor social conditions,
organizations that have become the target of a cruel terrorist
The Commission has received information on the measures
recently adopted by the Government to deal with the existing human
rights problems. The
Commission hopes that those measures will be applied in practice and
will be coupled with other measures to develop a positive,
comprehensive and sound policy. The
Commission believes that a fundamental part of that policy must be
recognition of the laudable and at times even dangerous work that
institutions engaged in defending and promoting human rights perform.
Accordingly, it believes that such institutions and their
members should be accorded every guarantee necessary to enable them to
perform their functions, as the Commission has repeatedly emphasized
and as the General Assembly of the Organization of American States has
recommended. It is the
duty of the Government of Peru and the obligation of its highest
ranking authorities to ensure that such organizations will be able to
perform their functions. The
Commission will continue to cooperate with all the institutions and
with the Peruvian Government so as to further the measures adopted to
protect human rights.
The Inter-American Commission has found the high ranking
military authorities to be responsive to its suggestions.
It has also been informed of forms of cooperation recently
instituted between military and police forces and nongovernmental
human rights groups. The
Commission hopes that cooperation will be reinforced and that it will
serve to make respect for human rights a permanent factor in any
measures taken in connection with the conflict in the country.
The Commission is aware that for the military and police
engaged in a conflict with those who believe themselves to be above
the law, application of a serious human rights policy will be
difficult. As the
Chairman of the Commission told the then Foreign Minister of Peru back
in 1989, the Armed Forces are called upon to defend the Constitution
and the laws and that noble calling cannot be betrayed by recourse to
methods specifically prohibited by those very laws.
It is the Commission's opinion, moreover, that an essential
element of the human rights policy must be to identify and punish
those responsible for human rights violations, thus making examples of
them. It is encouraging
to see that recently individuals operating in the emergency zones and
who may be implicated in human rights violations are being identified.
This would help to eliminate the disturbing problem of impunity
that, according to reports received by the Commission, has been
typical of the conduct of the security forces in Peru and is reflected
in the absence of any convictions on charges of human rights
violations. Here, the
Commission paid close attention to the arguments in favor of removing
human rights violations from the military jurisdiction, so that they
would be tried in the regular courts.
The Commission was able to confirm that the state of emergency
remains in effect in a number of regions in the country; even in
places where the state of emergency has been lifted, certain problems
persist, the kind usually associated with a preponderance of military
power. The Commission
also found that an increasing number of campesino bands have
been formed, depicted as a voluntary method that enables a rural
community to defend itself. According
to information the Commission received, some of those bands were not
set up on a volunteer basis and the creation of still more bands would
lead to violations of the people's rights.
As for the right to life, the Commission has been informed that
although the number of violations of this most basic of all human
rights is said to be on the decline, the number of summary executions
and forced disappearances is still very disturbing.
Indeed, according to informed sources, Peru still has the
highest number of forced disappearances in the world.
The way this phenomenon develops in the immediate future will
be a meaningful indicator of what effects the Government's measures
have had in practice.
As for the rights to personal liberty and due process, which
have a close bearing upon the right to humane treatment, the
Commission has received reports to the effect that serious problems
persist, having to do with the absence of formalities at the time of
arrest, the inefficacy of the remedies of amparo and habeas
corpus, and the slow pace of proceedings.
As a result, a large percentage of those now confined to penal
institutions have never actually been convicted of a crime.
On this point, the Commission hopes that the directive that
allows prosecutors to enter the military facilities to which persons
are taken at the time of their arrest will bring about a significant
improvement in the problems that have figured so prominently in the
human rights picture in Peru. As
the Commission suggested, that measure should be coupled with others
calculated to reinforce the independence and effectiveness of the
Judiciary and with efforts to give public prosecutors and judges the
means they must have if they are to perform their functions properly,
to overcome the serious crisis that was particularly apparent in the
country's interior. The Commission was also told that there is a veritable public
outcry to have the National Police again made the guardians of the
rights of the citizenry. The
Government is already working on this.
The Inter-American Commission saw the difficult circumstances
in which the prison population serves its sentence.
It was pleased that the highest ranking prison officials are
committed to improving conditions in the prisons.
The Commission was also told of the measures recently adopted
in connection with the prisons in downtown Lima, especially the
declaration of the state of emergency in those prisons, with the
result that they came under the authority of the Political-Military
Peru's recent experience, this could pose serious risks.
It also listened closely to the scenarios suggested in
connection with the eventual effects of the information recently
published by the news media reporting uprisings of conflicts that
never occurred. The
Commission has duly noted the commitment voiced by the ranking
authorities of the prison system to guarantee the basic rights of the
prison population, in the climate of order and respect that every
prison system has the duty to guarantee.
The Commission hopes that the right to self defense and the
activities performed by attorneys to that end will be fully
Today, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ends its
visit, which will be followed by others in the near future.
At this time, it would like to express its special thanks to
those people and institutions who gave of their time to present the
problems in the area of human rights.
It would also like to express its appreciation to the
Government of Peru for the many courtesies it provided to enable the
Commission to conduct its activities.
The Commission is convinced that its activities will help
strengthen democracy in Peru which, as has been said so many times
before, is the system that best guarantees the exercise of human
October 31, 1991