Human Rights Court Blocks Attempt by Congress to Oust Constitutional Justices

Constitutional Court justices Eloy Espinoza-Saldaña, Marianella Ledesma, Manuel Miranda and Carlos Ramos.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, IACHR, has told Peru to suspend a process currently in Congress against four members of Peru’s Constitutional Court.  The suspension will be in force until early February, when the case will be heard by the IACHR.

Last week, the congressional sub-commission on Constitutional Accusations recommended, in a nine to five vote, that three justices be suspended for 30 days and a fourth justice be fired and prohibited from holding public office for 10 years.

The case was put to the Congress by a group of former military officers who accuse the justices, in broad terms, of changing the weight of one vote in a decision to rule that crimes against humanity were committed by naval personnel during a prison mutiny on El Fronton island in 1986.

The El Fronton case is still in the courts, and a ruling that crimes against humanity were committed would mean that there is no statute of limitations, whereas the limitations would have by now expired if the quelling of the mutiny were to be considered a simple crime within a battle.

One of the key reasons for the IACHR ruling is that the El Fronton case continues, and therefore the Congress cannot intervene.

A former president of the Constitutional Court, Cesar Landa, said that Congress is abusing its power since it cannot intervene in any institution while a process is ongoing. He also noted that the members of Congress who are promoting this motion could face charges in breach of the Constitution.

With nine votes to five, the congressional commission on Constitutional charges voted along party lines to oust one justice from the Constitutional Court and suspend another three justices for 30 days.

The president of Peru’s Congress, Luis Galarreta, said they would evaluate the resolution but that it was “shameful” and showed “a lack of respect.”

Evaluating the resolution is not an option, according to Carlos Rivera of Peru’s Legal Defense Institute, who  noted today that, as a member of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, Peru is under obligation to comply with the court’s decisions.

Behind the Scenes

Political analysts see a darker side to the move in Congress by the Fujimorista majority to remove the four justices from the Constitutional Court, and also the opposition majority’s move to try to oust the Attorney General, Pablo Sanchez, on charges that he is not moving fast enough in the investigations into corruption.

Attorney General Pablo Sanchez

Ousting the Attorney General would pave the way for the congressional majority to elect someone who could help them slow down and even block the mounting investigations and charges of corruption by district attorneys and prosecutors, while shifting the votes in the Constitutional Court could help ensure more rulings in their favor.

Namely the habeas corpus for Alberto Fujimori, which if successful would mean Fujimori would be released without the need for a presidential pardon. With the four justices out of the way, one permanently, the justices who are clearly in favor of Fujimori’s release will be in position to vote.

The motion to annul Fujimori’s 25-year sentence, filed by his daughter Keiko this year, is being seen as of October this year.

In a conversation with law professor Samuel Abad at the Catholic University, journalist and lawyer Rosa Maria Palacios discussed the risks and dangers of the attempt by the Fujimoristas and Apristas in the Congress to move these pieces on the political checkerboard.


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One Comment

    The current political situation in Peru has been exacerbated by an opposition party in Congress whose leader Keiko Fujimori is facing allegations of money laundering and links to drug trafficking. It’s fair to remember Keiko is the older daughter of the sentenced and jailed former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori found guilty of crimes against humanity, Keiko’s followers in Congress are pretending to dismantle judicial instances that are not sympathetic to her intentions to indult Alberto Fujimori plus the additional political compromise with APRA the other opposition party to crush allegations against her and former president Alan Garcia Perez who is viewed by a majority of the population as a corrupt politician and eventually will have to face responsibility in the killing of hundred of prisoners -in Peruvian jails- during a prison riot if judges of the Peru’s Contitutional Court prevail and stay in their jobs which is in jeopardy because of the party’s majority in Congress -Fuerza Popular- legislators that are trying to plot against the judicial system for their own purposes.
    The published article is a concise but complete update of the Peruvian Status Quo and unfortunately it’s not getting better; in 12-21 this majority will try to impeach president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski by way of a speedy and unreliable impeachment proceed that is characteristic of a de facto regime.
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    No Corruption, No Impunity in Peru!

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