Law 29703 comes under fire for being “pro-corruption”

Legislation that was approved recently by Peru’s Congress, which holds public servants criminally responsible for corruption only if it causes economic damage to the State is coming under fire, with President-elect Ollanta Humala calling it a “pro-corruption” law.  Congressional members of his party filed a petition to repeal the law.

“It would seem to be a pro-corruption law. It creates anxiety and uncertainty and it is cause for joy for the corrupt,” daily La Republica reported Humala as saying. Humala said the law fails to consider the moral and ethical considerations, “which are fundamental to preserve the confidence of the people who personally feel the effects of corruption.”

Lima Mayor Susana Villaran has also come out against the legislation, signed under Law 29703.

“It is embarrassing that they have approved this law,” she said. “I have committed myself to fight against corruption. I am cleaning the mayor’s office in Lima of corruption and I hope that Congress has the capacity to listen… to be able to repeal the articles.”

The law was written as a result of the initiative of the judiciary, which requested clarifications to certain details in the criminal code, but the congressional commission on justice, led by Rolando Sousa of the Fujimorista party, amended other aspects of the code.

According to the Attorney General, José Pelaez, who is requesting that the law be amended, “The crime of collusion occurs when two people agree to defraud the State, independently of the damage it may produce. Consequently, this law will have to be revised since it would permit impunity in many cases that are under investigation,” Pelaez said.

The Comptroller General, Fuad Khoury, warns that Law 29703 does not include the stipulations set out by the UN and the OAS conventions on corruption, which specify that proof of damage to the State is unnecessary to investigate, pursue and punish crimes of corruption. 

Avelino Guillen, one of the lead prosecutors in the human rights trials of jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori, also called for the legislation to be repealed.

Guillen said that during President Alan Garcia’s five-year term, which comes to an end on July 28, there has been a lack of will to combat corruption. Law 29703, he adds, places numerous obstacles in the way of corruption prosecutions and increases the possibility of impunity.

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