Ex-president Fujimori to remain in prison for human rights crimes

10 June 2013

President Ollanta Humala has decided not to pardon former president Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year sentence for corruption and crimes against humanity.

The request for a pardon on health grounds was lodged last October. Humala’s decision, announced on 7 June, is in line with the recommendation of a special commission that has investigated Fujimori’s condition.

The news was welcomed by relatives of Fujimori’s victims and many civil society organisations. Gloria Cano of human rights group APRODEH said that Fujimori did not meet the required criteria, as he does not have a terminal illness, and the conditions of his imprisonment are not affecting his health. “There was a campaign by the fujimorista groups to make him a victim and achieve a political pardon. That would have been an illegal pardon,” she said.

The former president was sentenced in 2009 for corruption and overseeing death squads involved in the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta massacres, which killed 25 people, as well as two kidnappings. His presidency (1990-2000) was marked by authoritarianism and widespread human rights abuses.

Fujimori’s sentence was considered a watershed moment for accountability for human rights violations, within Peru and globally. It was the first time that a democratically elected former president had been found guilty in his own country for human rights violations and corruption. The conviction also represented a major step for Peru’s judiciary, which had been criticised by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for failing to protect Peruvians during the internal conflict of the 1980s and 1990s.

However Fujimori remains popular among many Peruvians who credit him with subduing the Shining Path and bringing economic stability in the early 1990s. An Ipsos poll found opinion divided, with equal numbers (48 per cent) agreeing and disagreeing with Humala’s decision on the indulto (pardon). Fujimori’s relatives have announced their intention to appeal to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.

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