Reparations Law Approved in Congress
31 July 2005
Hundreds of campaigners and human rights activists, along with those affected by the conflict of 1980-2000 in which 70,000 people lost their lives, rallied outside the Palace of the Legislative in support of the proposed reparations law (Ley de Reparaciones), being debated in congress. The law would begin to institutionalise an important part of the recommendations of the Truth Commission (TRC) that made its final report almost 2 years ago and would be an overwhelming success for human rights campaigners.
The final decision of congress to approve the 'Ley de Reparaciones' and establish an Action Plan for Reparations (PIR) is testament to the vital work of the human rights organisations involved in the Para Que No se Repita (PQNSR - So that it will not happen again) campaign. The campaign asks, among its demands, that money from the Peruvian budget be earmarked for compensation for those affected by violence and conflict.
Within the text for the new law is the creation of a vital register of the victims of violence to enable the commission, charged with the task of implementing this law, to ensure that the right people benefit from the reparations. The commission has 90 days to design the mechanisms by which this law will be implemented.
It is estimated that some 200 thousand people from 530 communities will benefit, requiring an investment of 150 to 200 million Soles (£30-35 million) per year.
The law proposes a range of reparations including restoration of citizenship rights, reparations in education, health and housing but does not include economic reparations as recommended in the TRC final report. The Congress debated various points of the proposed law, drafted by Congressman Walter Alejos, and made some significant changes including amending the phrase 'victims of violence' to 'victims of terrorism', therefore focusing more on the violence perpetrated by the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso Guerrilla group) rather than that of the State. The law also withholds reparations from those who were members of the Shining Path. These changes were suggested by Congress Members of Alan Garcia's party APRA, one of the ruling parties during some of the worst years of the violence, so as not to compromise the position of his party due to run in the 2006 elections.
Although the law was passed by a large majority in Congress and is welcomed by campaigners as a first step by the state to recognise their obligation to victims of violence, it is only one part of the recommendations of the TRC, and there is now hope that more of the final report will be implemented in the same way.
For more information on the campaign in Peru to bring about the implementation of the recommendations of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission go to www.paraquenoserepita.org.pe