A United Nations working group arrived in Lima this week to gather information on forced and involuntary disappearance cases in the country.
The 10-day mission is led by human rights experts Ariel Dulitzky and Houria Es-Slami, who will also be studying the measures adopted by the State to prevent and eradicate the practice of forced disappearances.
The Working Group is made up of five experts from different parts of the world who will be working closely with the government and meeting national and provincial authorities in Lima, Ayacucho and Huanuco as well as relatives of disappeared persons, different UN agency representatives and members of human rights organizations. They are also accompanied by officers of the UN High Commissioner’s Office on Human Rights.
On June 10, at the end of their mission, the Working Group will offer a press conference at the U.N. complex on Av.del Ejercito in Magdalena. A final report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in 2016.
In 2003, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recognized that during the 1980-2000 internal conflict, thousands of people disappeared, some kidnapped by Shining Path rebels, many others after being arrested by military or police.
Almost 10 years later, a working group and the Justice committee in the Congress held a seminar to analyze and propose State policies to search for the disappeared and reached a consensus on the need for forensic research, psycho-social assistance and material and lgostical support to the families of the victims. However, and despite several calls by the Episcopial Conference of Bishops in Peru, there is as yet no firm political decision and it is not a priority on the agenda of any of the political parties in Congress.
Over the past four or five years, the Peruvian Team of Forensic Anthropologists, Epaf, have unearthed several mass graves, and working with the Ministry of Justice have helped some families identify their relatives.
In October 2014, some 80 victims were given a formal burial in Ayacucho, following up to three years of forensic studies —the identities were confirmed by relatives who were asked to view a chilling exhibition held in Ayacucho and in Lima, of clothing and personal items — often just an earring, or a sweater or pair of running shoes was enough for viewers to confirm the identity, and this was followed up by additional DNA tests. Of these 80 victims, 51 were killed by the Shining Path and 29 by the state security forces. The killings occurred between 1983 and 1992, and the victims included adult men and women, two of whom were pregnant, as well as children.