Following a two-day visit in the week of 23 October, Zeid Ra’ad Al Husse, UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, called upon the government to reaffirm the importance of human rights in the country’s push towards social and economic development. He celebrated official efforts in the fight against poverty and exclusion, noting improvements. However, “Speaking to civil society groups, I heard their burning sense of injustice that decisions affecting people’s land, lives and futures are made by others . . . . . I am concerned that the recommendations made more than a decade ago by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have to date been insufficiently implemented.” And he urged further efforts to ensure that the rule of law and protection of human rights were strengthened.
The High Commissioner met the President, members of Congress and the Judiciary, as well as representatives from civil society and the private sector. He expressed particular concern at the negative impact of widespread corruption.
While praising the progress made in addressing poverty and exclusion, the High Commissioner was clear that sustainable development needs more than growth: it needs strong measures to address human rights. He made a number of important points: the international treaties the government has ratified (and there are many) impose obligations “not only on the Government but also on Congress, the Judiciary and all State institutions.” This is an all-too-relevant and very useful point. It is also important that he specifically mentioned the impact of corruption on human rights, and the need to implement measures to protect human rights defenders.
Further, Zeid mentioned the importance of prior consultation in the context of socio-environmental conflict and spoke of the need to strengthen such processes. He also highlighted ways to strengthen consultation mechanisms, including enhancing the role of diverse civil society interlocutors in the ongoing process of developing the National Action Plan for Human Rights. He reminded the Peruvian government of its obligation to guarantee the security of human rights defenders who are facing unprecedented levels of violent reprisal.
On gender-based violence, he stressed a point we have made very often: Peru is quite good at passing laws, but what is also crucial is “rigorous implementation and strong preventative measures.” He underlined the need to change social and cultural attitudes.
The High Commissioner also requested that the government implement a long-pending commitment to establish a legal framework to identify all of the disappeared between 1980 and 2000. He spoke of the worryingly high levels of impunity for the crimes committed during this period and the need for truth, justice and reparations. Zeid also sounded the alarm over the possibility that exPresident Fujimori could be pardoned. He noted that given he had been sentenced to 25 years for human rights abuses, the international community would need to be consulted in any discussion of a possible pardon.