On 28 March, the government published Law 31012, otherwise known as the Ley de Protección Judicial. This is a law that aims to grant discretionary powers to the police and to provide exemptions for the detention or prosecution of police officers who have caused harm to others by using lethal weapons during emergency situations.
The law infringes the principle of proportionality, by giving the police the power to decide what kind of force is justified in a given set of circumstances.
Law 31012 had been passed by the previous Congress dissolved last September but never promulgated.
Its passage into law last week has been severely criticised by national and international civil society organisations, as well as by the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). It is seen providing an open door for human rights violations, as well as undermining the principle of proportionality since it “contemplates exempting agents of the state from being liable when they are the perpetrators”.
A long list of Peruvian civil society organisations have condemned the law, demanding that Congress should repeal it and the judiciary should not apply it. They claim that it is unconstitutional and poses unwarranted risks as the police carry out their duties. They say that the contravention of proportionality violates a number of legal instruments to which Peru is signatory, not least the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The law was adopted as part of the nationwide state of emergency measures introduced to counter COVID-19. It responds to a number of reported incidents in which the police tried to prevent citizens from breaking the curfew and lockdown restrictions.
For its part, Amnesty International has stated that “we condemn all aggression towards the police and the armed forces, but to derogate the principle of proportionality constitutes a human rights violation in the current state of emergency. If this law is not derogated now, it will remain valid long after the current crisis ends, in continued violation of human rights. This is why we demand a step back”.