Human Rights Watch: Prosecution of Peruvian security forces has been disappointing

The prosecution of Peruvian security forces for human rights crimes committed during the country’s internal armed conflict has been disappointing, US-based Human Rights Watch said in its 21st annual World Report.

“Given the landmark significance of the [Alberto] Fujimori conviction, prosecutions in other human rights cases from the armed conflict period have had disappointing results, with convictions trailing behind the number of acquittals,” the report said.

Peru’s National Human Rights Coordinator reported in June 2010 that 65 military and police agents were acquitted by the National Criminal Court, formed in 2004 to hear human rights and terrorism cases. Only 15 agents had been convicted and 23 cases were dismissed.

In addition, “the Peruvian military has consistently failed to provide information to help prosecutors identify officers who participated in atrocities,” Human Rights Watch says. “Mainly as a result of this lack of cooperation, prosecutors and lawyers for relatives of victims have had difficulty assembling evidence that meets the rigorous standards that courts demand.”

Human Rights Watch pointed to a decree enacted and later repealed by President Alan Garcia last year that was aimed at providing a “disguised amnesty for perpetrators of human rights violations during the armed conflict.”

Decree 1097 created a grandfather clause for crimes against humanity committed before 2003 and considered so heinous that they normally carry no statute of limitations. “Such crimes would include atrocities committed during the first government of Alan Garcia, such as the massacre of 122 prisoners at El Fronton prison in 1986.”

The report also pointed to human rights concerns in Peru including the unjustified use of lethal force by police against protesters, reports of beatings by police and municipal security patrols, reproductive rights, media freedom, and hostility towards NGOs that promote human rights.

“Such NGOs have been falsely accused of sympathy with terrorist groups or of undermining the armed forces,” Human Rights Watch says.

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