IACHR Concerned about Reports of Harassment and Stigmatizing Messages Fueling Discrimination in Peru's Election Context

June 22, 2021

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is concerned about allegations of harassment against electoral authorities and public figures in Peru, and also about reports on the spread of stigmatizing discourse that fuels discrimination. The IACHR therefore calls on the State to comply with its international human rights obligations concerning the prevention and investigation of these events which allegedly followed the presidential election held on June 6, 2021, and the punishment of anyone responsible for them.

The IACHR closely monitored the situation of human rights in Peru during the electoral process, which was considered adequate by various electoral observation missions. The Commission further notes that Peru's Special Election Juries have not reported evidence of any electoral irregularities. There remain a few pending complaints that these juries and the National Elections Jury still have to address before final results can be issued.

However, in the context of its own efforts to monitor the situation of human rights, the IACHR has been informed of the spread of messages with degrading and stigmatizing content that might encourage discrimination based on ethnic or racial grounds, socioeconomic condition, alleged political affiliation, regional background, and other social features, particularly regarding indigenous persons and residents of the country's rural areas. The Commission warns that the authorities of indigenous peoples and peasant communities have complained about these incidents, which have also been denounced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The IACHR is also concerned about the spread of messages that seek to scare specific individuals based on their political views. These include the publication of confidential personal details, without the consent of the public figures in question, in an effort to force these individuals to leave the country in retaliation for their political views or affiliation. Concerning these campaigns, the IACHR notes that Peruvian public prosecutors have taken action to prevent the perpetration of crimes against life and personal integrity.

The IACHR notes that this form of digital harassment, known as doxing, involves publishing confidential private information to harass o extort the affected individuals. Doxing potentially exposes people to digital attacks and also to physical rights violations—including attacks on their life and personal integrity—fueled by the spread of personal details in the digital sphere. The Commission stresses how important it is for Internet service providers to take measures to prevent and mitigate these kinds of contents, in line with the recommendations made by the IACHR in various thematic reports addressing the Internet's potential to spread these messages.

The IACHR is concerned about alleged intimidation and harassment against electoral authorities including the chair of the National Elections Jury and the head of the National Office of Electoral Processes. The IACHR notes that the Ombudsperson's Office issued a call to end demonstrations outside the homes of electoral authority officials, and to end interference with their family lives. The Commission has received reports about a rally before the home of a prosecutor specializing in corruption cases, whose address had been posted on social media.

Further, the Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression received reports on the lack of safeguards for journalistic activity in Peru's election context. The National Office of Electoral Processes has received complaints from media workers who have allegedly been subjected to pressures linked to their work to cover the election, which in some cases led to forced resignations from their positions. The IACHR therefore calls on the State to provide broad safeguards for journalists and the media to be able to do their work, which is essential in election contexts.

The Commission reminds the State of its duty to ensure equality and non-discrimination for vulnerable groups in election contexts. The IACHR stresses the State's duty to prevent, investigate, and punish any discrimination, violence, and acts of harassment or intimidation that might happen in the election context. The Commission urges the State to protect the life and personal integrity of Peru's public figures, as well as the independent exercise of the roles of individuals who hold positions within the country's electoral and justice system, based on the international obligations that stem from the American Convention on Human Rights and other inter-American treaties.

The IACHR stresses that one of the essential elements of representative democracy involves holding periodic, free, and fair elections based on secret balloting and universal suffrage, as an expression of the sovereignty of the people. The Commission therefore asks the State to continue to ensure the conditions needed to resolve pending complaints and issue the election's final results, in line with Peru's domestic constitutional framework, and to protect the effective exercise of representative democracy as the basis for the rule of law.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 155/21