IACHR Condemns Increase in Violence in Peru and Schedules Technical and Working Visits

December 19, 2022

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Washington, D.C.- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is very concerned about the exponential escalation of violence in protests in Peru. The Commission emphatically calls on everyone involved to devote all their efforts to solving the crisis through democratic channels, with full respect for human rights.
Over the past few days of protests, the Ombudsperson’s Office has reported that 21 people have died and 210 have been injured in demonstrations, mostly in the provinces of Apurímac, Arequipa, and Ayacucho. A total of 216 police officers have also been said to have been injured in clashes between demonstrators and the security forces. These figures entail a sharp increase relative to earlier days.

There have also been reports of further impacts on the work of journalists. At least 25 instances of threats, attacks, and other types of interference with coverage have been reported, and these have negatively affected citizens’ right to information, as well as affecting public services including ambulance passage in the Madre de Dios department, a Molotov cocktail explosion at the Wanchaq police station in the Cusco department, and an intentional fire at the public prosecutor’s office in Huamanga and a violent raid on Alfredo Mendívil Duarte national airport, both of them in the city of Ayacucho.

In response to this escalation of violence, a 30-day state of emergency was decreed throughout the country on December 14. The rights to freedom of assembly, freedom of movement through the country, the inviolability of the home, and personal safety were suspended. The state of emergency also allows action by the National Police and the Armed Forces in the context of social protests.

The Peruvian Congress approved on December 12 a bill to end the special legal exemption previously enjoyed by former president Pedro Castillo. Later, the judiciary ordered an 18-month pretrial detention against Castillo, at the request of the public prosecutor’s office, under charges of rebellion and conspiracy. The IACHR stresses its call on the State to ensure, in a timely manner, due process and all necessary expert assistance.

The Commission emphatically condemns all forms of violence and urges the State to take all measures necessary to ensure that acts of violence that have had a serious impact on individuals’ lives and integrity are investigated promptly, comprehensively, and diligently, and that their perpetrators and masterminds are identified and punished. The IACHR also notes that, whatever a protest’s context, inter-American instruments demand that the right to freedom of assembly be exercised peacefully and without weapons. The security forces have the obligation to allow demonstrations and protests to take place and to identify any demonstrators who resort to violence, always based on the principles of legality, proportionality, and absolute necessity. These principles encourage State agents to ensure that the use of force respects the international obligations that Peru has taken on.

The IACHR notes that the Peruvian State has issued a formal invitation for the Commission to visit the country in order to “obtain information about the events that followed the declaration of the permanent moral incompetence of former president Pedro Castillo Terrones after he tried to stage a coup d’état on December 7.” The Commission accepted this invitation and expressed its willingness to conduct a technical visit immediately in preparation to working visit by IACHR members in January 2024.

Finally, given how serious the situation is, the Commission stressed its call on the State of Peru to deepen its efforts to develop channels for dialogue, as a priority route to address social conflict. The IACHR calls on all social actors—particularly individuals involved in demonstrations—to take into consideration not only their own right to protest but also other democratic pathways available to attain their goals. Only national talks focused on protecting the human rights of all people can lead to a constitutional, lasting, and effective solution to this crisis.

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. 280/22

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