PSG members and regular readers of the Peru Update will know that the PSG has been a strong supporter of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Peru. Since joining the Co-ordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos campaign for the creation of a commission in issue 86 in April/May 2001 we have continued to support their work since the commission was set up in July that year. Over the last three years the PSG has included regular articles in the Update, organised four events, produced a photographic exhibition, an extra edition of the Update, and published an A5 50-page booklet on the findings of the commission. We have also co-ordinated an interagency group with other UK NGOs working on Peru including CAFOD, CIIR, Christian Aid, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Oxfam, Save the Children UK and Tearfund.
Throughout its mandate the commission, and subsequently its final report, received strong criticism from a variety of sources, including some senior figures in the Catholic Church, political leaders/parties, the media, the Shining Path and the military. As well as publicising the important work and findings of the commission, the PSG sought to send out a strong message of international support. The Peru Support Group and the UK NGOs working on Peru who participated in an inter-agency group, are concerned that the political climate in Peru will make it very difficult for the government of Alejandro Toledo, which has little popular support, to act on the recommendations of the report. We believe that it is only by acting on the recommendations of the TRC that will Peru will be able to reconcile itself with what happened, bring an end to impunity, and ensure justice for those most affected.
With the support of the interagency group, the PSG is organising a parliamentary delegation in June 2004. The delegates are: Lord Alderdice (Alliance party), psychotherapist, international expert on Truth commissions and speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly; John Battle MP (Labour party) former Minister of State at the Foreign Office, with responsibility for Latin America and Caribbean, member of the International Development Select Committee; and John Bercow the Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.
The three parliamentary delegates and the PSG co-ordinator accompanying the delegation will travel to Peru to meet with human rights organisations, members of the TRC and victims of the violence, before also meeting with members of Congress, political leaders, government representatives and opposition figures.
We hope that the delegation, which comes 9 months after the presentation of the final report of the TRC, will help to ensure that the recommendations of the commission are acted upon to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again. The implementation of the recommendations would go a long way to supporting the process of reconciliation in Peru, and many of the recommendations would also strengthen Peru’s newly recovered democracy. The delegation will send a clear message of solidarity to the victims of the political violence in Peru, national human rights organisations and groups working to implement the recommendations of the commission.
The next edition of the update will be in three months time, and will focus on the findings of the delegation.