Peru and Chile discuss common legacies in the search for the disappeared

05 February 2017

At a recent seminar and top-level meeting in Santiago, Chile, experts from Peru discussed the ongoing search for the country’s disappeared with colleagues, relatives’ associations and UN experts. Peru’s recent efforts in approving a law that seeks to set up a national office this year to search for the thousands of people still missing after the 1980-2000 internal armed conflict have attracted attention in neighbouring countries.

Gisela Ortiz, long-time human rights activist and relative of one of those who disappeared in the high-profile La Cantuta case and currently operations manager at the Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team (EPAF Perú) and Rafael Barrantes from the International Committee of the Red Cross’s Lima-based regional office, travelled Chile to speak at the Universidad Diego Portales about Peru’s experience of civil society advocacy in the humanitarian and judicial search for the disappeared.

They met with representatives of Chilean government agencies tasked with preparing the country’s imminent report to the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance and with committee member Rainer Huhle. Ortiz also spoke to a Chilean relatives association about the political, organisational and empowerment aspects of her long personal and professional engagement with the struggle against impunity for atrocities committed in the 1980s and 1990s.

The event will have a second leg in April this year when forensic experts and scholars from around the region will gather in Lima for the Latin American Studies Association’s annual conference. EPAF carries out accompaniment, exhumation and identification, reparation and empowerment work, particularly with Andean communities in Ayacucho affected by conflict and disappearances. Its annual bilingual field school (13 June–3 July) provides the opportunity to see this work in action. See Peruvian Team of Forensic Anthropology (EPAF) for details.

 

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    Over the past century Peru has suffered a series of autocratic governments and a civil war in which nearly 70,000 people died. Many of the country's ongoing political and social problems are a legacy of its somewhat turbulent past. 

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