CIDHHeaderEn.GIF (11752 bytes)


Nº 20/98


1. Today, 13 November 1998, sees the end of the on-site visit carried out by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ("IACHR" or "Commission"), at the invitation of the Government of Peru, to observe the situation of human rights in that sister nation. The following members of the Commission participated in the visit: Professor Carlos M. Ayala Corao, Chairman; Professor Robert K. Goldman, First Vice-Chairman; Dr. Jean Joseph Exumé, Second Vice-Chairman; Dr. Alvaro Tirado Mejía, Dean Claudio Grossman, and Dr. Hélio Bicudo. Dr. Santiago Canton, the recently appointed Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, also attended in that capacity. The Commission received assistance from Ambassador Jorge E. Taiana, Executive Secretary; Dr. David J. Padilla, Assistant Executive Secretary; and Dr. Christina M. Cerna and Dr. Ignacio Alvarez, lawyers with the Executive Secretariat. Administrative support was provided by Ms. Nora Anderson, Ms. Olga Franco, and Ms. Cecilia Adriazola.

2. The Commission is one of the main bodies of the Organization of American States ("OAS") and is responsible for impartially promoting the observance and defense of human rights in the hemisphere. The IACHR’s powers derive mainly from the American Convention on Human Rights (the "American Convention"), also known as the Pact of San José, and from the OAS’s own Charter, both of which the Government of Peru has ratified. In pursuit of this objective, the Commission investigates and decides on complaints of alleged human rights violations, conducts on-site visits (such as this most recent one to Peru), prepares draft human rights treaties and declarations, and issues reports on the human rights situation in the region’s countries. The Commission comprises seven members, who are elected on a personal basis by the OAS General Assembly for a period of four years.

3. During its visit, the IACHR met with the President of the Republic, H.E. Alberto Fujimori Fujimori. The Commission also met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Fernando de Trazegnies Granda; the Minister of Justice, Dr. Alfredo Quispe Correa; with the Chief of the National Penitentiary Institute, Mr. Nakandari; the Minister of Education, Mr. Domingo Palermo Cabrejos; the Minister for Women’s Promotion and Human Development, Dr. Miriam Schenone; and the Vice-Minister for Health, Dr. Alejandro Aguinaga Recuenco. In addition, the IACHR spoke with other ranking state officials, including the People’s Defender, Dr. Jorge Santistevan de Noriega, and members of his staff.

4. The Commission also met with the President of the Executive Commission of the Department of Public Prosecutions, Dr. Blanca Nélida Colan; the National Prosecutor, Dr. Miguel Aljovín Swayne; the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Dr. Víctor Raúl Castillo Castillo; the President of the Superior Court of Lima, Dr. Marcos Ibazeta Marino; Dr. Francisco Acosta Sánchez and other magistrates of the Constitutional Court; Dr. Faustino Luna Farfán, who chairs the National Magistrature Council; the Executive Commission of the Judiciary; Dr. Manuel Macedo Dianderas from the Academy of the Magistrature; Dr. Edgar Romeo Vargas Romero, Chief Prosecutor in charge of the Chief Prosecutor’s Office for Internal Control at the Department of Public Prosecutions; and Dr. Nelson Reyes Ríos, a member of the Supreme Court and Chief of the Magistrature Control Office of the Judiciary.

5. Conversations also took place with Dr. Luis Serpa Segura, President of the National Elections Jury. In addition, the Commission met with the President of Congress, Mr. Víctor Joy Way; the First Vice-President, Dr. Ricardo Marcenaro Frers; and with the chairmen of different congressional commissions: Dr. Dennis Vargas Marín of the Human Rights and Peace Commission; Dr. Oscar Medelius Rodríguez of the Justice Commission; Dr. Marta Chávez of the Public Order and Intelligence Commission; and Dr. Oswaldo Sandoval Aguirre of the Foreign Affairs Commission. With regard to Peru’s state security forces, the IACHR met with ranking officers including the Interior Minister, General Víctor Villanueva Ruesta, and the President of Supreme Military Justice Council, FAP Lieutenant General Oscar Granthon.

6. During its visit, the IACHR pursued its working agenda in Lima, Ayacucho, Tacna, Puno, and Arequipa, where it went to meet with departmental and local government authorities and representatives of civil society. On these visits, the IACHR spoke with officials and inmates of the prisons at Ayacucho, Yanamayo–Challapalca, Castro Castro, and the Simón Bolívar General Barracks. A delegation from the Commission traveled to Ayacucho on Monday, 9 November, at the invitation of President Alberto Fujimori, and visited the Ayacucho Superior Court of Justice and the Yanamilla prison. In a second visit to Ayacucho on Wednesday, 11 November, the IACHR went with Dr. Guillermo Wong, Director of the PAR Program, to Tambo District and visited the concerted action zone of the Chachuamayo campesino community; in the capital, it met with Dr. Vladimiro Huaro, the representative of the People’s Defender in Ayacucho, and with representatives of civil society and nongovernmental organizations active in the area, including the families of disappeared persons, the displaced persons committee, and political groups.

7. In Lima the Commission was also able to meet with numerous nongovernmental human rights organizations, and it received invaluable help from the National Human Rights Coordinating Office in organizing several of its interviews with sectors of Peru’s civil society. The Commission met with representatives of nongovernmental organizations including the following: the Andean Commission of Jurists, the College of Lawyers of Lima, Transparencia, the Democratic Forum, the Peru Peace Project, the National Committee on Displacements, the Working Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the General Workers’ Central of Peru, the Association of Journalists, the Peruvian Press Council, the Press and Society Institute, the Initiative Group for Children’s Rights, the Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense and Rights of Women (CLADEM–Peru), and the Permanent Conference of Indigenous Peoples. The Commission also met with several groups of relatives of disappeared persons, senior citizens, retirees, and unemployed workers. It was also able to speak with His Eminence Cardinal Luis Vargas Alzamora and with the Catholic bishop Msgr. Juan Luis Marín, President of the Episcopal Conference.

8. As is customary on these visits, the IACHR received complaints, either directly or through representatives, from people claiming to have suffered human rights violations. It also spoke with individuals offering additional information on cases currently being processed by the Commission.

9. The IACHR would like to stress that it enjoyed the broadest freedom to meet with the people it wanted to and to travel to any place in the country it deemed appropriate. The Government of Peru extended its fullest assistance and cooperation to every one of the Commission’s endeavors in allowing it to carry out its agenda.

10. This on-site visit to Peru, five years after the Commission’s previous visit, allowed closer ties to be established with the State and civil society with a view toward continued joint work on the permanent task of promoting and protecting human rights. The IACHR’s program provided it with an overview — at this time necessarily preliminary and provisional — of the general human rights situation in Peru.

11. The extensive and complex information received will be analyzed in detail at the Commission’s next ordinary session at its headquarters in February 1999, prior to drafting a report on the human rights situation in Peru. It should be noted that in receiving, processing, and deciding on individual petitions alleging human rights violations, the IACHR performs a jurisdictional function. The IACHR therefore refrains from making specific statements that could prejudge the substance of the individual cases brought before it.

12. Notwithstanding the above comment, at the end of its visit the Commission would like to offer the following general comments:


13. The Commission observed major progress since its previous visit in 1993. On this occasion, the Commission noted a significant improvement in the country’s security situation, which offers great opportunities for institutional development, the establishment of the rule of law, and the promotion and observance of human rights. Lately the IACHR has received no complaints involving forced disappearances or summary executions taking place since 1994, a fact which it appreciates enormously.

14. Similarly, the Ad Hoc Pardons Commission, created by Law 26655, has increased its legitimacy in the eyes of society by finding solutions in some cases involving individuals unjustly convicted on terrorist charges. The Commission echoes the comments made by different sectors of the Peruvian State and society calling for an extension and expansion of the Ad Hoc Commission’s mandate.

15. The Commission also appreciates the presence within civil society of an increased awareness of and concern for human rights in the country, both shared by important sectors of public opinion. In connection with this, the Commission observed an increasingly active and participative civil society that expresses its opinions and works for the promotion and defense of human rights.

16. The IACHR appreciates the October 1997 decision to eliminate the jurisdiction of "faceless judges" in terrorism and treason trials. The Commission also applauds the incorporation into the Penal Code of crimes against humanity and a definition of torture; the work carried out by the State on behalf of displaced persons and their voluntary return to their home communities; its assistance for communities affected by violence; the recognition of women’s rights; and the promotion of economic, social, and cultural rights, including education and health programs. In addition, the state of emergency has been lifted across much of the country.

17. The Commission stresses the importance it gives to the 1996 creation of the Office of the People’s Defender. This autonomous institution was created to defend the constitutional and basic rights of individuals and the community. The Office of the People’s Defender has assumed the role of serving as an intermediary with the authorities in defending the population’s rights. The Office’s autonomy and the work it has been carrying out are among the chief elements currently promoting respect for basic rights in Peru.

18. In spite of the progress made, during its on-site visit to Peru the Commission received complaints from different sources about the following situations that affect the enjoyment of human rights:


19. The IACHR was able to observe the growing concern among broad sectors of the country about the phenomenon that the People’s Defender has called "the blurring of the constitutional design." The Commission has stated that democracy and the rule of law are necessary prerequisites for achieving observance of and respect for human rights within a society. This involve exercising rights of political participation, respecting the principles of the judiciary’s legality, autonomy, and independence, and ensuring effective protection against actions by state agents.

1. The Intervention of the Judiciary: Temporary Judges and Prosecutors

20. The Commission was informed that almost seven years after the government intervened in the judiciary, more than 70 percent of the country’s judges and public prosecutors are "temporary," and that the constitutional functions of the National Magistracy Council in appointing those officials have also suffered interventions by executive commissions from both the judiciary and the Department of Public Prosecutions. This poses a grave threat to the independence and autonomy of the judiciary vis-a-vis political power, and it has in numerous cases given rise to complaints of undue interference.

21. The Commission stresses the importance of re-establishing the constitutional normalcy of the judiciary; it therefore hopes that the reorganization of the judicial sector will not take longer than the period set by law, which is due to expire in December of this year, and that the powers of the National Prosecutor will be reinstated. The National Magistracy Council must be given back its constitutional powers to appoint and remove judges and prosecutors.

22. The Commission also received information and reports from judges and public prosecutors who have been harassed, transferred, removed, or even charged with crimes after deciding on issues affecting the interests of the political sector within the Government.

23. In connection with this, the IACHR was informed that the First Civil Circuit of the Superior Court of Lima, which specializes in summary and noncontentious proceedings, had accepted an injunction brought by Mrs. de Baruch Ivcher, thus allowing her to defend her right to legally intervene in the trial dealing with calls for shareholders’ general meetings. The complaint states that another circuit of the same court, acting with complete irregularity, admitted an amparo relief injunction against this judicial ruling. The complaint states that amparo injunctions are not intended to upset the effects of a judicial decision reached during normal proceedings. It also states that if actions of this kind, which are prohibited by the amparo legislation, were to be authorized, the independence of the Peruvian judiciary and the legal security of individuals would be affected even more severely and that the judges against who amparos are brought could be removed and tried in criminal proceedings for their interpretations of the law. The complaint says that this underscores once again the precarious standing of the rule of law in Peru, the questions asked about the independence and autonomy of the judiciary, and the legal certainty enjoyed by its rulings, all of which are guaranteed by the Constitution.

24. The IACHR also received a complaint regarding another amparo injunction brought against the decision of the 29th Civil Court in Lima, which would also have entitled Mrs. Ivcher to defend her rights in the trial against Frecuencia Latina regarding calls for shareholders’ general meetings.

25. These complaints cause the Commission concern; they will be studied carefully because they involve the autonomy and independence of judges, both irreplaceable guarantees of human rights.

2. The Dismantling of the Constitutional Court

26. Under the Peruvian constitutional system, the Constitutional Court is the body that controls the constitutionality of laws. This important guarantee of the constitutional rule of law has been dismantled, after the dismissal of three of its magistrates left it without the quorum needed to perform that control function.

27. The Commission made a statement on this matter in a press release issued in June 1997 during the General Assembly of the OAS held in Lima. The Commission hopes that the normal functioning of the Constitutional Court will be re-established soon and that there will be a review of certain institutional elements in the law that governs its operations, which, inter alia, requires an exaggeratedly high majority of six votes out of seven magistrates for a law to be declared unconstitutional.

3. Due Process

28. The IACHR received numerous complaints regarding Peru’s failure to observe the rules of due process enshrined in the American Convention on Human Rights.

29. These complaints involve the following: (A) The use and distortion of national security legislation to fight common crime. Peru levels charges of aggravated terrorism, under Legislative Decree No. 895, against persons who, under international treaties, are not terrorists but common criminals. This extension of terrorism to common criminality deforms and devalues terrorist actions and the need to penalize and punish them severely. The IACHR understands the gravity of the crimes committed by common criminals against personal property, individual freedom, human life, and other things of value. However, universal legal traditions demand the appropriate application of concepts that entail such important consequences as the imprescriptibility of crimes or the existence of universal jurisdiction. (B) The fact that detainees are kept incommunicado in violation of international law; the presence of questionable types of evidence (the police statement); lack of freedom during trial preparations; exaggeratedly short times allotted for trials; the absence of mechanisms for making challenges; and continuous isolation in cells (Legislative Decree No. 895). (C) The classification of qualified homicide or murder, rape of minors, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, and extortion as aggravated crimes (see Decrees No. 896 and 897). In cases of this kind, the Department of Public Prosecutions does not conduct the investigation; it only intervenes in it. In addition, the period allowed for police investigations is often extended to 15 days, in breach of the Constitution. The right of defense in these cases is undermined, in that magistrates cannot be challenged and the individuals who prepared police statements cannot be called as witnesses. (D) The unconstitutional erection of major barriers to judges’ authority in cases of habeas corpus and amparo (Legislative Decree No. 900). Under this provision, Specialized Public Law Judges have jurisdiction in these matters, whereas before the decree these important proceedings could be heard by all criminal judges in Lima and Callao. (E) The granting of competence to military justice, which can now try a new type of proceeding — military habeas corpus — in circumstances in which military judges, under international law, should only deal with breaches of the law committed in performance of those functions (Legislative Decree No. 905). (F) The adoption of provisions that negatively affect young people and violate the rules of due process, such as including adolescents over the age of 16 into the adult criminal regime (Legislative Decree No. 895). In such cases, Family Judges have no competence and adolescents are referred to military justice, which can impose punishments of more than 25 years in prison. (G) Rules for reconsidering common crimes that contain, among other elements objected to, extremely subjective and unclear descriptions that therefore offer the possibility for discretionary decisions by the authorities and false accusations and charges (see Legislative Decrees Nos. 901 and 902). (H) The distortion of functions belonging to the National Police (see Legislative Decree No. 904). This decree created the National Intelligence Directorate for Social Protection and Tranquility, allowing the National Intelligence Service (SIN) to intervene politically in the police.

30. The IACHR gives the highest importance to these complaints submitted to it that affect basic tenets of the rule of law and of the inter-American human rights protection system. The IACHR repeats that civic security is an important and basic prerequisite for democracy and for the observance of human rights. However, the essence of the rule of law is affected by the inappropriate extension of penal classifications from the struggle against subversive elements to the realm of common crime. In such cases, individuals’ basic rights and guarantees are affected, in that the assumption of innocence and the guarantees of due process are undermined. The underlying confusion in this new legislation between "national security" and "civic security" confuses the arenas to which the two belong. Mixing the two concepts into a single idea militarizes the criminal justice system and, at the same time, gives military and intelligence agencies powers which do not correspond to them, thus invading the arena of individual basic rights.

31. One of the gravest problems that affect societies as they emerge from periods of violence and terrorism is how to keep the institutions, practices, and cultural habits developed to combat subversion from becoming institutionalized and consequently from binding society to the patterns of the past. In its report on Peru, the IACHR will closely study these issues of vital importance to the democratic future of Peru and it will formulate the appropriate recommendations.

4. The Extension of Military Justice

32. The Commission received exhaustive information on the extension of military justice into civilian trials, and on its preservation as the sole system for trying members of the armed forces, even for common crimes. This situation has been upheld on many occasions by the Supreme Court of Justice, which has ruled in favor of military justice in disputes of jurisdiction. In this press release, the IACHR also refers to a series of legislative decrees that confuse the concepts of national security and civic security and which are either intended to or have the effect of unduly submitting civilians to military justice.

33. In this regard, the Commission repeats its doctrine that military justice must be applied only to active service personnel and solely for service crimes. Thus, crimes against human rights must be investigated and punished in accordance with the law by ordinary criminal courts. The distortion of jurisdictions must not be allowed because, beneath false conceptions of the efficiency of military justice, it undermines judicial guarantees and has grave institutional repercussions that challenge civil courts and the currency of the rule of law.

5. Impunity for Human Rights Crimes

34. The undue extension of military justice, the intervention suffered by the judiciary, and the amnesty laws promulgated in 1995 give rise to a serious situation in which the perpetrators of human rights violations enjoy impunity, a circumstance which could well affect the social fabric as a whole. In light of its broad, hemisphere-wide experience, the IACHR is deeply concerned by this, and so its final report will analyze this important question in detail.

35. On this occasion the Commission repeats its doctrine that when human rights crimes occur, the state is under the obligation of investigating and punishing the perpetrators. This international obligation of the state is unrenounceable, and so situations of impunity arising from de facto or de jure amnesties contravene the American Convention on Human Rights and, in addition, undermine the responsibility of the state. The Commission presses for the amnesty laws to be declared null and void and for an independent investigation to be conducted to establish the truth about the events that occurred during the years of violence. In addition, the state has the power to and obligation of punishing such violations in order to protect the population and social tranquility.

6. Freedom of Expression

36. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights awards the highest importance to freedom of expression, a right which is essential in guaranteeing full enjoyment of democracy and the rule of law. The absence of freedom of expression, or the presence of restrictions to it, allow or encourage corruption and, ultimately, authoritarianism in its different guises.

37. In Peru the Commission was able to note a pluralistic debate involving conflicting opinions in the mass media, allowing the airing of different points of view and enhancing the information available to the people and to the government.

38. The Commission did, however, receive several complaints from journalists — particularly those engaged in investigative journalism — alleging that they suffer from threats and different types of harassment.

39. The Commission informed the Peruvian authorities about the need for a serious and exhaustive investigation of threats of this kind. An essential part of freedom of expression is being able to express ideas without fearing the consequences of exercising that important right. The state has the obligation of allotting the greatest importance to complaints involving threats and harassment suffered by journalists and of thoroughly investigating their origin and applying the appropriate punishments to the perpetrators, regardless of their position or hierarchy.

40. During its visit the IACHR received concrete information on the failure to investigate a case involving a threat sent by fax on 19 June 1998 on which the transmitting fax number and the corresponding name were visible. The IACHR will refer this information to the authorities and will request that steps be taken to thoroughly investigate this serious and as yet unpunished case.

7. Political Rights

41. During its visit, the Commission received several petitions and communications regarding what the petitioners called the "blockage" of the referendum called for by popular opinion in order to consult the citizenry on the question of presidential re-electability. According to these complaints, the earlier decision by the National Elections Jury and the subsequent refusal by Congress to approve the referendum call constitute a serious violation of Peruvians’ human rights as set forth in the American Convention. The Commission will process these petitions in accordance with its regulations and it will make a statement regarding them in due course.


42. In addition to questions related to the democratic and constitutional rule of law, the Commission has received complaints and information about the following matters. These will be addressed in depth in its final report, further to the following general comments:

1.    The Prison Situation

43. While in Peru, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights visited a number of prisons and detention centers to monitor compliance with the minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners set down by the United Nations and the provisions of American Convention on Human Rights regarding the treatment of detainees, people facing trial, and convicts.

44. The Inter-American Commission was able to witness the Peruvian Government’s major prison-building program. It also noted its adoption and application of categories of dangerousness based on prisoners’ behavior, intended to encourage their rehabilitation by allowing detainees to be transferred to a more appropriate category in light of their conduct.

45. The Commission received complaints that many detainees were not given appropriate or adequate legal assistance. Many of these prisoners, including some facing life sentences or periods of 20 or 30 years in jail, claimed that they had only had the briefest of contacts with lawyers.

46. Other complaints dealt with the prison visits system. Visits are restricted to direct relatives, such as fathers, mothers, wives, and children. The Commission would like to note that under the current conditions, many see the need for greater flexibility in the visits system, such as allowing other relatives to visit prisoners.

47. The Commission was also able to note the existence of extremely harsh prison regimes, with individuals locked up for 23 hours a day in very small and overcrowded spaces; here, the lack of physical exercise could produce irreversible illnesses. Another problem is the remote location of many jails, which makes visits by inmates’ families difficult.

48. The Commission will closely study the complaints and comments received about the prison system, and it has already enjoyed valuable exchanges of opinion with the Peruvian authorities. In its Final Report, it will submit its comments aimed at ensuring compliance with the applicable international standards.

2.    Retired and Dismissed Workers

49. The Commission received complaints about the lack of protection suffered by retirees, who claimed that after years of work they face either dwindling pensions or major difficulties in collecting the pensions to which they are really entitled. The IACHR was also told about numerous dismissals of workers, which are often carried out in accordance with an assessment system that has been criticized as unfair and arbitrary. According to information received by the Commission, a considerable number of these workers have obtained favorable judicial rulings ordering them to be contracted anew; their former employers, however, choose to disregard these instructions, which has a serious impact on the victims and their families.

50. The IACHR will investigate this situation in order to assess the existence of due process and effective legal protection in light of the high number of cases that denounce noncompliance with final sentences in cases involving pensions and re-hirings.

3.    Indigenous Peoples

51. During its visit, the Commission received representatives from different indigenous peoples of Peru, who spoke of the serious situation they face with regard to their health and economic conditions, the lack of recognition given to their lands and territories, and, most particularly, disrespect for their cultural rights. The Commission believes the problem of indigenous peoples and their rights to be of the greatest importance and has even proposed an American Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Commission will closely study the human rights situation among indigenous peoples in its Final Report.

4.    Children’s Rights

52. The Commission was told of the important measures adopted by the Government in the fields of health care and education. The IACHR also received complaints regarding serious situations affecting children’s rights — such as child employment and family situations — and serious complaints involving sexual violence against girls and arising from the classification of crimes committed by minors and their referral to military justice. The IACHR pays particular attention to the rights of minors and, in connection with this, has recently appointed a Special Rapporteur for Children’s Rights. The Commission will conscientiously analyze the complaints it received and the other situations affecting the rights of Peruvian children.

5.    Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

53. The IACHR received information on government programs dealing with economic, social, and cultural rights, focused specifically on the health and education sectors. In these areas the IACHR was able to note the development of major initiatives aimed at raising the population’s health standards and education levels, through projects that include the development of modern techniques. The IACHR will deal with these rights in its Final Report.

6.    Women’s Rights

54. The IACHR was told about important initiatives aimed at improving women’s rights, including training and professional reinsertion programs, positive discrimination or quotas, and measures to combat domestic violence. It also received information on the introduction of legal amendments that would practically eliminate discrimination against women in the legal system, which would be a major step toward eliminating de facto discrimination. The IACHR’s Special Rapporteur for this issue will continue to work with the Peruvian State and society on these questions, and a chapter on the subject will be included in its Final Report.

7.    Family Planning and Forced Sterilization

55. The IACHR received information on health and reproductive rights programs aimed at women. In this regard, the Commission received specific complaints from the People’s Defender and nongovernmental organizations indicating serious issues of personal freedom, physical integrity, and even the right to life in some cases involving the forced sterilization of women, a practice which is particularly common among the poorest communities. The Commission will investigate this matter and will formulate the appropriate recommendations in its Final Report.

8.    Self-Defense Committees

56. The Commission received information and complaints about the delays affecting thousands of campesino men and women who, as a result of armed confrontations, have been widowed or orphaned or are crippled members of self-defense committees and who have not yet been given compensation in accordance with the applicable legal provisions still in force.

57. With regard to the self-defense groups, the Commission was told of their structural ties to the armed forces; this fact is of concern to the Commission, on account of its consequences for social order and civic peace.

58. Hemisphere-wide experience has shown that when a state renounces its monopoly over force and power and allows or encourages civil society to take up arms in self-defense, serious repercussions arise in the form of abuses, excesses, human rights violations, and even the creation of death squads. In Ayacucho, the IACHR was told that most of the complaints received by the People’s Defender involve self-defense committees. The Commission will study this phenomenon in detail in its Final Report.


59. While visiting Peru, the Commission collected complaints and information regarding several of its pending cases. Under the American Convention on Human Rights, the IACHR receives complaints from individuals who believe that their internationally protected rights have been violated, once the admissibility criteria — including the exhaustion of domestic remedies — have been met. The Commission reviews these complaints juridically and ends the process with a report containing its conclusions and recommendations. If the state involved does not abide by the report, the case can be referred to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

60. During its visit to Peru, the Commission gathered additional information on the case of Mr. Baruch Ivcher and brought it to the authorities’ attention. This case has received much attention from the international community and journalists’ organizations, and it is currently being processed by the IACHR.

61. The IACHR visited Mrs. Rosario Lam, currently an employee of Mr. Ivcher, at the San Borja Hospital. Mrs. Lam claims she has been accused and pressured to accuse Mr. Ivcher of actions he has not committed. The IACHR will investigate these claims.

62. The Inter-American Commission also visited Gustavo Cesti, Jaime Castillo Petruzzi et al., and Lori Berenson. The cases of Mr. Cesti and Mr. Castillo Petruzzi et al. have been referred to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights by the IACHR.

63. The Commission was also able to talk with the Peruvian Government about the case system of inter-American human rights mechanisms. It is a fact that as our countries become more open and democratic, they submit more cases to the international agencies. This is a natural and healthy phenomenon — and one that has been seen in other regions — since the international system thus becomes a vehicle for solving disputes and cases that could not be resolved domestically, and it offers an opportunity not only for justice in specific cases, but also for establishing a series of common human rights standards.

64. The IACHR stresses the need to deal with these cases in a strictly juridical fashion. The Commission appreciates the presence of Peruvian lawyers in these cases, representing either the alleged victims or the State. The Commission has insisted on the need for full cooperation with the case system established by the Pact of San José, Costa Rica. The IACHR informed the Peruvian Government of the progress made with ratifications of the American Convention and of the acceptance of the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights by several of the hemisphere’s states.

65. At a number of meetings the Commission called the Peruvian Government’s attention to the existence of friendly settlement mechanisms for resolving certain complex situations. This system allows cases to be concluded in a nonconfrontational fashion and has been used in cases involving Argentina, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay, and Venezuela. It has proven to be an important vehicle for resolving alleged violations that should be used by both sides (petitioners and states) to its fullest extent.

66. Finally, the IACHR would like to offer its thanks to the Government of the Republic of Peru in the person of its President, H.E. Alberto Fujimori Fujimori, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People’s Defender, and the other state authorities for the hospitality, facilities, and collaboration they gave the IACHR to ensure the success of this visit, and to the different sectors of civil society, nongovernmental organizations, and individuals who frankly and transparently contributed valuable reports and documentation toward the effective pursuit of its mission during the visit. The Commission would also like to thank the journalists and mass media for the interest shown in their coverage of this visit.

67. Pursuant to its functions under the Charter of the OAS, the American Convention, and other applicable international legal instruments, the Commission will continue to monitor the human rights situation in Peru.

68. In accordance with these instruments, over the coming months the IACHR will prepare a Final Report addressing the human rights situation in Peru and containing the Commission’s conclusions and recommendations to the Peruvian State. Once the procedural formalities are complete, this report will be made public and its content made known to Peruvian society and to the other member states of the OAS. The IACHR repeats its wish to continue collaborating with the authorities and people of Peru, within its sphere of competence, in order to assist in strengthening the domestic and international mechanisms for defending and protecting human rights under the democratic and constitutional rule of law.

69. This is the first visit conducted by the Commission with its new Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Dr. Santiago Canton. The comments of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of freedom of expression are attached hereto.



1. The status of freedom of expression in the hemisphere is one of the main issues of concern to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Democracy without freedom of expression is inconceivable. For that reason, the IACHR created the office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (the Rapporteur). This office is supported by the hemisphere’s heads of state and government who, at the recent Summit of the Americas in Chile, publicly expressed their concern about this right’s currency in the nations of the continent. The Rapporteur accompanied the Commission on this visit and held joint meetings with the Commission as well as independent engagements. These meetings involved both government officials and representatives of civil society. The Rapporteur would like to thank the authorities for their willingness to help resolve some of the problems addressed.

2. Prior to the visit, the Rapporteur received information from several international organizations expressing concern about freedom of expression in Peru. In addition, during the visit, civil groups and individual journalists provided the Rapporteur with reports that corroborate the information received.

3. The main concern are the death threats received by several journalists in connection with their work. With approximately 200 journalists slain in the hemisphere in recent years, it is clear that all threats to journalists’ lives must be investigated in depth and that governments are responsible for identifying mechanisms which guarantee the free pursuit of the profession without consequences that endanger the physical integrity of individuals.

4. In connection with this, the Rapporteur would like to congratulate and express his support for all those journalists who, in spite of receiving threats, continue to practice their profession with utter professionalism and integrity.

5. In Peru there are approximately fifty cases of murdered journalists. Most of these cases occurred during the 1980s. It is vitally important that the authorities continue investigating these cases to ensure that crimes against journalists do not go unpunished.

6. The Rapporteur also received information on the existence of indirect coercive mechanisms that limit freedom of expression. These indirect mechanisms were reported to include legal persecutions, professional discrediting, and persecution at work. In this regard, the Rapporteur would like to stress that freedom of expression is not merely the ability to express ideas freely. The right of freedom of expression implies the ability to express ideas freely without suffering arbitrary consequences.

7. The Rapporteur also received reports on problems faced in obtaining information from the authorities. Impeded access to information clearly harms the journalistic profession and restricts the information available to citizens as they make their decisions. In this regard, any initiative from the government that would facilitate free access to information would help the citizenry to become better informed and, at the same time, would reduce the risks faced by journalists in doing their jobs.

8. The Rapporteur received information on the existence of legislative bills intended to regulate the right of free expression — specifically, the right of access to information. The Rapporteur was told that these bills, were they to prosper, could severely restrict the right of freedom of expression. The Rapporteur hopes that the regulation of this right proceeds with utmost caution and takes into consideration the recommendations of civil bodies, both domestic and international, which have already made statements on this matter on numerous occasions.

9. The Rapporteur was informed by the National Radio Coordinating Office (CNR) of its concern about the regulations to one congressional law that prevent stations from obtaining advertisements. According to the CNR, several of the 30 educational radio stations covered by these regulations will be unable to continue operating unless they are allowed to earn income through advertising. The Rapporteur relayed this information to the competent authorities, which promised to study the situation and find a solution.

10. One case that has attained international importance is that of Mr. Baruch Ivcher. The Rapporteur received information about this case, about the legal actions brought against persons formerly employed by Mr. Ivcher, and about the companies he owns.

11. During the visit the Rapporteur was able to participate in the inauguration of a national communications network organized by the Press and Society Institute (IPYS). This network will allow journalists who are threatened on account of their professional work to immediately seek the assistance offered by the IPYS. This initiative is particularly important for journalists in the interior of the country where, it is generally agreed, the risks of practicing journalism are the greatest.

12. Without freedom of expression — which includes not only the free expression of ideas, but also the existence of guarantees that provide adequate protection for the free exercise of that right — a democratic society is inconceivable. A preliminary assessment of the information received to date would appear to indicate that although it is possible to criticize the Peruvian authorities, in certain cases such criticism gives rise to persecutions and threats that severely restrict the free exercise of the right of free expression.

13. The Rapporteur found that the authorities were well disposed toward discussing and finding solutions for the problems described. The Rapporteur will continue to inform the authorities about possible violations of freedom of expression and will assist in identifying mechanisms to help improve the situation prevailing with regard to free expression.

Lima, Peru November 13, 1998