Peru criticised for breach of ruling on forced disappearance

16 September 2013

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ruled that Peru has failed to comply with almost all of the requirements of a 2009 ruling on the forced disappearance of student Kenneth Anzualdo. Anzualdo was disappeared in 1993 after being detained by police.

On 13 September, the court criticised failures to uphold access to justice and truth. It detailed the lack of action by the Peruvian state to find Anzualdo’s body and provide reparations to his relatives.

The only measure that the state has taken was to make a public apology in July. Other steps to honour Anzualdo, such as the publication of the sentence in a national newspaper and his inclusion in the Museum of Memory, have not been fulfilled. The court’s resolution refers to the lack of concrete progress in investigating and punishing those responsible for the disappearance. It is now required to submit a detailed report to the IACHR by the end of October.

Human rights NGOs Aprodeh and the Centre for Justice and International Law called on Peru to take “urgent measures to implement all the conditions of the sentence, in accordance with its international obligations.”

Rights groups also reacted with dismay to a Constitutional Court ruling that alleged extra-judicial killings at El Frontón prison during Peru’s internal conflict were not crimes against humanity. Scores of Shining Path militants were killed as the navy responded to prison riots in 1986, according to Human Rights Watch. However in early September the Court published its decision that there was no evidence of prior planning of excessive force or extra-judicial killing.

Carlos Rivera Paz of the Instituto de Defensa Legal said that the publication of the ruling while the suspects are awaiting trial was a “legal aberration, and constitutes a new mechanism for impunity and violation of the Peruvian state’s international obligations, which must be reviewed quickly by the Inter-American court, as we saw last year with the Barrios Altos case.”

In addition, figures produced by public prosecutors for human rights and terrorism cases show that the vast majority of cases are not followed through and that only a tiny proportion are acted upon by the courts. According to Gloria Cano, the director of Aprodeh, this is a “highly worrying situation which reveals the tendency towards impunity”. Aprodeh, which had demanded the publication of figures on prosecution of cases, said that the situation was worse than it had imagined. In a recent report, the Defensoría del Pueblo criticised the slow pace of bring cases to justice. It claimed that the problem of cases being dropped (archivado) was that the Ministry of Defence failed to release information to identify those who suspected of responsibility for killings and disappearances.

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    The Peru Support Group exists to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and the observance of human rights in Peru. To that end the PSG highlights shortcomings in observance of established norms, whether international or local in nature, in its research, advocacy and publications. In so doing, it underscores the relationships that exist within the political system, how institutions work, and the effectiveness of policies that aim to reduce poverty and inequality within the context of sustainable development.

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