In Dialogue with Peru, Experts of the Human Rights Committee Commend Advances in Promoting Gender Equality, Raise Issues Concerning the Trial of Former President Pedro Castillo and Alleged Human Rights Violations Occurring During Recent Demonstrations
The Human Rights Committee this morning concluded its consideration of the sixth periodic report of Peru on how it implements the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with Committee Experts commending advances in promoting gender equality, while raising concerns on the trial of former President Pedro Castillo and alleged human rights violations during recent demonstrations.
A Committee Expert congratulated the State party on progress made on gender equality. Could the delegation report on the main objectives achieved under the 2019 National Gender Equality Policy so far?
Another Committee Expert said the trial of Pedro Castillo was very important. Were exceptional conditions to pre-trial detention respected? To what extent would the trial meet the criteria of independence and impartiality established in the Covenant? What provisions had been made to ensure that the right of the accused to be tried within a reasonable time were respected?
Several Experts raised concerns regarding reported massive arbitrary arrests at the University of San Marcos. Further reports had been received of violent searches within student housing, attacks on demonstrators and lawyers having been denied access to their clients. One Expert noted with appreciation the delegation’s commitment to investigating in-depth alleged human rights violations committed during the social demonstrations.
Silvia Rosario Loli Espinoza, Vice Minister of Women, Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, said in opening remarks that the National Gender Equality Policy had been effective across all sectors. To reduce and eliminate violence against women and family members, the Government would deploy the “Aurora Programme”, which included a strategy targeting rural women. A parity law to better represent Peru’s gender makeup had been enacted by the Government. The delegation added that emergency centres for women had 100 per cent coverage of the nation.
Luis Juan Chuquihuara Chil, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said in his opening remarks that Peru had experienced a difficult period since the coup on 7 December 2022. Democratic institutions assured the swift and legitimate succussion of Government headed by Dina Boluarte. The political crisis triggered social protests nationwide. Peaceful protests were respected, but such episodes were overshadowed by vandalism and violence, which regrettably undermined the social issues at hand. A broad dialogue on peace, democracy and respecting the rule of law were necessary for the peaceful coexistence that all Peruvians wished for.
In the ensuing discussion, the delegation said the legal proceedings of Pedro Castillo would adhere to constitutional due process. Both the Inter-American Committee for Human Rights and the Ombudsman had conducted visits, assuring proper human rights conditions. The second prosecution court, which specialised in corruption, was carrying out two separate investigations on Mr. Castillo, one on rebellion and conspiracy and a second on organised crime.
The public prosecutor had intervened immediately following events at the University of San Marcos. An investigation was underway to determine the legal status of detainees. After release, only one protestor had been arrested, and under warrant. A human rights defender as well as specialised prosecution services on human rights intervened immediately in police stations and hospitals to investigate alleged human rights violations and ensure due process.
In concluding remarks, Mr. Chuquihuara Chil noted that in the three months since the dastardly coup, the administration headed by President Boluarte had done its utmost to restore order and had promoted dialogue. Peru remained opened to the human rights system and would leave invitations open for special procedures mandate holders. Peru was an imperfect democracy but was not in a constitutional crisis; the current administration was solid. Peru would stick to a path of human rights.
Tania María Abdo Rocholl, Committee Chairperson, in concluding remarks, said it had been a difficult but important dialogue that provided necessary clarification on the current human rights situation. Issues discussed included on instruments supporting rules and recommendations, support for the Ombudsman’s Office, repression during demonstrations, violence against women, judicial independence, access to justice and the elimination of slavery and forced labour.
The delegation of Peru was made up of representatives of the Ministry of Human Rights and Access to Justice, the Ministry of Territorial Governance, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Persons, and the Permanent Mission of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Human Rights Committee’s one hundred and thirty-seventh session is being held from 27 February to 24 March. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meeting summary releases can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed via the UN Web TV webpage.
The Committee will next meet in public at 10 a.m., Wednesday 7 March to begin its consideration of the sixth periodic report of the Sri Lanka (CCPR/C/LKA/6).
The Committee has before it the sixth periodic report of Peru (CCPR/C/PER/6).
Presentation of the Report
LUIS JUAN CHUQUIHUARA CHIL, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Peru was committed to fulfilling its obligations under international human rights standards. Peru has experienced a difficult period since the coup on 7 December 2022. Democratic institutions assured the swift and legitimate succussion of Government headed by Dina Boluarte. The political crisis triggered social protests nationwide. Peaceful protests were respected. But such episodes were overshadowed by vandalism and violence, which regrettably undermined the social issues at hand. A broad dialogue for peace, democracy and respecting the rule of law was necessary for the peaceful coexistence that all Peruvians wished for. Peru was also committed to international and regional human rights institutions and was open to their scrutiny. The country had invited several Special Rapporteurs to make country visits.
JOSÉ ANDRÉS TELLO ALFARO, Minister of Justice and Human Rights, and head of the delegation, reaffirmed Peru’s commitment to promoting and protecting human rights, and its willingness to recognise and work on challenges to them. Peru’s current situation was painful and complex. The State was respectful of the right to protest, but it also rejected all forms of violence that impacted the right to life, health, access to justice, work and business freedom, the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of movement. Mr. Tello Alfaro offered condolences on behalf of the State to the families and loved ones of those whose lives had been lost. It was important that the State carried out investigations to determine responsibility for deaths. To that end, a visit to Peru was conducted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in December 2022, and a representative of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights conducted a visit in January 2023. Within the framework of a temporary multisectoral commission to monitor care for the deceased persons’ families and those affected by the demonstrations, exceptional, one-time financial support was provided to family members of the deceased, seriously injured people, civilians and the police. In total, 91 relatives of 52 deceased people had received payments. The approval of a second list was planned, made up of seven relatives of the remaining four deceased people and 27 seriously injured people.
Peru would continue to respect its commitments to international human rights. A Memorandum of Understanding on a Work Plan was recently signed between the Republic of Peru and the Office of the High Commissioner. In 2023, the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association had been invited to visit the country. In addition, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions had been requested to advance their visit, initially scheduled for 2024.
The Third National Human Rights Plan 2018-2021 aimed at guaranteeing the rights of people from 13 special protection groups. The plan was implemented to 49 per cent in 2019, but that number fell to 39 per cent in its third year due to COVID-19, which brought another significant loss of human life, for which the State offered condolences. There was also a new mechanism for the protection of human rights defenders. The National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights 2021-2025 was the result of a two-year process of dialogue between 132 representative institutions of the State, the business sector, indigenous peoples, unions of workers and civil society organizations. This Plan promoted the implementation of the Guiding Principles of the United Nations and other international standards to guarantee the protection, as well as the respect, of human rights in all business activities in the country.
ELVIA BARRIOS ALVARADO, Chief Supreme Judge and President of the Gender Justice Commission of the Judiciary, said the Peruvian State had recognized structural discrimination against women as a public problem through the National Gender Equality Policy, approved in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated the need to strengthen the use of information technologies. To that end, the nationwide implementation of the electronic judicial file was completed, and a “Panic Button” application was promoted for persons who faced risks of abuse. Incorporating a gender approach in the administration of justice was an imperative for the judiciary and a protocol had been adopted to administer justice with a gender approach, guaranteeing judicial protection for women. Trainings were deployed to the judiciary through courses workshops and seminars, and during the 2021-2022 period, 3,602 people benefitted from them.
SILVIA ROSARIO LOLI ESPINOZA, Vice Minister of Women, Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, said the National Gender Equality Policy approved in 2019 had been effective across all sectors and included people with disabilities and other groups. To reduce and eliminate violence against women and family members, the Government would deploy the “Aurora Programme”.
which included a strategy targeting rural women. A parity law to better represent Peru’s gender makeup had been enacted by the Government.
The Government was focusing on the rights of domestic workers, implementing International Labour Organisation Convention 139. Anti-discrimination programmes focusing on raising awareness on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons had been launched. The Government had launched awareness campaigns and trainings for public servants on the respect and protection of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. Peru aimed to eliminate discrimination so that all could enjoy their rights.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert greeted the delegation in Quechua, an official language of Peru and underscored the importance of the meeting. Placing human rights at the centre of the discussion could only benefit the Peruvian people. While a regulatory standing was given to the Covenant, no examples of court cases where it had been referred to had been provided. Was there more information on the subject? In 2008, the supernational legal authority was established to ensure compliance with legal instruments such as the Covenant, but it was reportedly slow. Was there a mechanism to directly implement decisions made by treaty bodies?
The trial of Pedro Castillo was very important. Were exceptional conditions to pre-trial detention respected? To what extent would the trial meet the criteria of independence and impartiality established in the Covenant? What provisions had been made to ensure that the right of the accused to be tried within a reasonable time, without undue delay, were respected?
Could the State party provide the Committee a list of the objectives achieved and those not achieved under the National Human Rights Plan (2018-2021)? The Confederation of Private Business Institutions had not yet incorporated indigenous organizations or trade unions. Did the State party intend to expand the membership of this body so that indigenous and trade union organizations were represented in it?
The Ombudsman’s Office faced difficulties in obtaining data and in exercising its functions. Had complaints submitted to the Ombudsman's Office increased after the incidents that had occurred since December 7, 2022? There had been a total of 60 deaths and 908 people were wounded during recent events. Had the Government received a report on this from the Ombudsman? Following a February 23, 2023 ruling from the Constitutional Court, the National Congress planned to reduce the parliamentary majorities necessary to elect the Ombudsman. How was this change justified if the Ombudsman was supposed to be independent?
Another Committee Expert noted that, in keeping with the Constitution, there were two categories of state of emergency: one being a disturbance of the peace, and the other a catastrophe. Could human rights be suspended during this period? Could more information be provided on the current state of emergency? What areas and provinces were still under a state of emergency and what rights had been restricted? When a state of emergency was declared, were restrictions to rights in line with proportionality and strict necessity? How were the armed forces involved in enforcing public order? Concerning reports had been received of increased violence and of nine deaths in Ayacucho in connection with increased military presence. Were alleged violent crimes committed by police during the entry by force into the University of San Marcos being investigated?
A Committee Expert took note of the National Commission against Discrimination in 2013. What information was available on measures taken to eliminate discrimination for all, but particularly indigenous persons and people of African descent? Access to the formal labour market was difficult for migrants. A recent act on migration of 2023 could further discriminate against them. Why did foreign nationals need a humanitarian visa to enter the country? What authority delivered such visas?
Increased hate speech against migrants, especially those who had fled from Venezuela, was concerning. How were these instances of discrimination being investigated? What measures were taken to combat the dissemination of discriminatory stereotypes in the media? Could the delegation provide disaggregated data on indigenous people who had died, were injured or were detained during recent demonstrations?
An Expert welcomed the legislative, public policy and awareness-raising measures adopted by the State party, and noted the information on the prevention, monitoring and protection mechanisms for the eradication of discrimination based on sexual orientation. Was the State party considering formally penalising discrimination suffered by these persons, recognising same-sex marriages and banning conversion therapies? Reports were received that children of single fathers and of same sex couples born abroad were reportedly denied registration of Peruvian nationality and did not enjoy the same rights as children born to single mothers or heterosexual parents abroad under law 26574. What steps would to taken to ensure equal rights for all children? Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people were now recognized as subjects entitled to special protection. They were guaranteed free assistance regarding correction of birth certificates and reporting all forms of violence, sexual and discrimination-related offences. How many lawsuits had been initiated following the complaints of victims of discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as the remedies obtained over the past five years?
Another Committee Expert congratulated the State party on progress made on gender equality. Could the delegation report on the main objectives achieved under the 2019 National Gender Equality Policy so far? What was the current percentage of women in the legislative power, in the executive power, in the judiciary and in the public administration? What were the current percentages of rural and indigenous peoples in regional and municipal councils? A law seeking to close the wage gap between men and women was adopted in 2018. To what extent had the wage gap narrowed in the last 3 years?
According to a 2015 survey, over 70 per cent of women suffered intimate partner violence. Had the law to prevent and punish violence against women affected this rate? What were the results of measures adopted to prevent femicide? The high level of gender-based violence against vulnerable groups, such as indigenous and afro-descendent women, was concerning. What measures had been put in place for their protection and to ensure their access to justice? Was it true that girls could not formally complain in cases of gender-based violence without a parent or legal guardian present? What training measures have been adopted for judges, prosecutors, public defenders and the police on the subject of gender-based violence and domestic violence? What percentage of national territory was covered by Women's Emergency Centres and Temporary Shelter Homes?
Responses by the Delegation
LUIS JUAN CHUQUIHUARA CHIL, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that on 7 December, 2022, there was a coup d’état. Former President Pedro Castillo incited this and there was evidence of this online through his speeches. The Government rejected the coup and a process of constitutional succession took place. Dina Bolouarte, the Vice-President elected in 2021 came to power. A constitutional break did not occur. The entire delegation had tendered their resignations upon the coup, and only assumed their positions after succession in the Government which was in full respect of democracy and the rule of law.
The delegation said that progress had been made on human rights through the national human rights plan, which had mechanisms to monitor its implementation. The plan addressed first and foremost structural inequality and would last for eight years instead of one presidential mandate. Groups targeted in the legislation were human rights defenders, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex population and domestic workers. The national human rights plan was conceived in a multi-stakeholder approach. Reports on those groups had been submitted, and guides were released on how to portray those groups in the media. Working with other stakeholders such as the Attorney General, the State party had concluded that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex population was indeed the most discriminated against in the country with transgender people targeted specifically. A 10-year study compiled complaints and deaths within the community, and led to the production of standards and protocols on cases of violence against the population.
Further, since 2017, the Criminal Code was modified to exacerbate punishments for discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. The prosecutor’s office also created a commission to establish guidelines for care of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex population. A strategic plan of action was underway on sensitising the judiciary to the needs of members of this population who suffered discrimination. Measures to eradicate violence against women and domestic violence included the protocol of the office on the investigation of femicide with a gendered perspective and guidelines of behaviour for the judiciary in dealing with victims of domestic violence and their families. There was a significant commitment to fighting both discrimination and violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex population as well as women.
During the state of emergency, in keeping with the framework of the Covenant, the 50 civilians and 1 police who lost their lives. The specialised prosecutor for human rights worked with the judiciary to investigate the use of force during protests. A code of conduct consistent with United Nations guidelines had been developed for police officers on the use of force. Peru has implemented several plans to promote and guarantee human rights within the police force. Training was ongoing and the training manual was often updated.
The Peruvian Constitution did indeed recognise two states of emergency, which could be applied when peace was disturbed, or when there is a foreign invasion. Rights could be exceptionally suspended temporarily. It was a legal instrument to guarantee public safety that was in keeping with the framework of the Covenant. Upon presidential decree, control of the public could be shifted to the military. Standards for the use of force were used to maintain human rights standards. The military had respected these standards when re-establishing order.
Emergency centres for women had 100 per cent coverage of the nation. The centres provided psychosocial care but also prevention measures. Services were open to everyone regardless of age. Minors and even a third person could report on sexual violence, regardless of sexual orientation or migration status. Social services were provided without discrimination. Law 3624 created protocols for punishments for those guilty of violence against women and their families.
In 2021, the Minister of Agriculture created a national directorate for women in agriculture, which allowed women access to credit and other programmes. Further, a parity law was implemented. Let’s Govern Together, an electoral plan was established so that recently elected women were afforded protection from harassment.
The State party had complied with the Brasilia rules, which presented sexual orientation as a qualifier of vulnerability. 300,000 complaints on violence against women had been received in 2022. Following investigation by a criminal judge, a protection order would be enacted for victims. There was a 43 per cent representation of women in the judiciary.
Follow-Up Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert asked for additional information on measures in place promoting the rights of indigenous persons, people of African descent, and children born abroad to heterosexual and same sex couples.
A Committee Expert said that, given the international media coverage, it was worth reiterating questions on the indiscriminate use of force during the raids in the University of San Marcos. What specific information was available on the subject?
Another Expert asked for the specific percentage of women’s representation in local government and the prosecutor’s office. What were the details of progress on women’s representation? How many reports of harassment or threats against women in politics been investigated, and how many convictions issued? What was the status of women in the extraction industry? Was there any public desegregated data on discrimination in the workplace? What statistics were available on eliminating violence against women? How many cases and convictions were there? What were the results of prevention campaigns? The 100 per cent coverage of the country for women’s centres was significant, but what services did they offer? How long could women stay there? What other information was available on them?
A Committee Expert noted that only 90 days had elapsed since a radical change had occurred in Peru. Protests followed a state of emergency with restrictions to human rights which were first widespread and general, then only applied to certain areas where protests had taken place. The investigation was underway into President Castillo. Could the State party comment on efforts to ensure due process in legal proceedings?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation, in response, said that the electoral board was committed to defending its independence as well as gender equality. In 2021 and 2022, the electoral board observes an increase in female candidates in general. Persons with disabilities as well as people of African descent also increased. Ethical compacts were signed to eliminate violence against women. 60 cases of political harassment had been identified in the past four elections. Memoranda of understanding had been signed with various international organisations to promote the political participation of women.
The prosecutor’s office had opened an investigation into President Castillo. The events at the University of San Marcos were being investigated and the prosecutor would provide more information regarding due process.
The state of emergency had been implemented as a part of disaster relief measures. Its goal was to protect the population and its civil and political rights. Tools and guidebooks were in development to implement strategies to promote the welfare of the Peruvian people. Considering the current context of social protests, a strategy had been implemented to promote social peace and governance in the most conflicted areas to protect property, infrastructure and protect the daily life of citizens. A minister was appointed to undertake dialogue on technical and political levels to deal with claims of the populations. Economic recovery would be encouraged through local projects and measures aimed to help affected sectors become more buoyant.
To guarantee the rights of the indigenous and persons of African descent, the State provided free legal support regarding complaints of discrimination. More than 131 reports of ethnic or racial discrimination had been heard and technical assistance was provided. Over 150 citizens had been trained in responding to racial discrimination. An online course called “Let’s talk about racism” was available to students in Peru. A manual called “Discrimination free journalism” provided information about indigenous and Afro-Peruvian people to prevent racist practices in the media industry. In 2022, a national policy for the Afro-Peruvian people had been developed to ensure social and cultural rights for the population and eliminate racism. To prevent discrimination of those who spoke indigenous languages, public interpretation services were provided by the interpretation and translation centre within the Ministry of Culture. Detainees received the helps of interpreters when providing statements to police. At the University of San Marcos, a programme of interpretation was also provided.
LUIS JUAN CHUQUIHUARA CHIL, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the legal proceedings of Pedro Castillo resulting from the coup would adhere to constitutional due process. Both the Inter-American Committee for Human Rights and the Ombudsman have conducted visits, assuring proper human rights conditions. Legal council and sponsorship would be provided for those who have come forward with reports of deprivation of liberty. Further, detainees during were being released. Excessive use of force was minimal. The current administration had made strides in gender parity especially in comparison to the previous administration. The President was now a woman, and the Government had made a marked move toward parity.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert asked if criminal investigations had been carried out to prosecute and punish those responsible for serious human rights violations between the 1980-2000 period? If so, what were the results in this regard? Statistics were requested. Information had been received pertaining to military personnel stationed in the areas concerned during the period. Were there any advances in implementing the search plan for missing persons? What concrete measures were adopted in implementing the Working Group on Enforced Disappearance’s recommendations in 2015? What were the concerned sectors, and what achievements had been made?
Another Committee Expert noted the significance of the implementation of the comprehensive reparations plan. However, reports had been received that those who were entitled to medical benefits under the plan were being denied such benefits. Could the delegation address this? According to information received, approximately 217,000 women had been sterilized, and 2,000 of them reported that forced hysterectomies had taken place under a State policy for the elimination of poverty. This would qualify as discrimination, racism and torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Testimonies were heart-breaking, detailing the exclusion of these women as “sick” by their own communities. The Committee took note of the amical settlement agreement between the victims and the Peruvian State. Why, 19 years after the signing of the agreement, were a large part of said measures, including sentencing of those responsible and education strategies to avoid recurrence, still pending? What was the number of victims who had received reparations and what amounts had they received?
Another Expert said that the Committee was following the debate to decriminalise abortion in Congress. Was there disaggregated data on the number of women and girls who had been subject to criminal sanctions for seeking abortion, as well as the number of health care providers who had been prosecuted for providing abortion services? The Expert welcomed the adoption by the State party of the Multisectoral Plan for the Prevention of Teenage Pregnancy for 2013-2021. Further, the Expert noted that the country had adopted Technical Health Standard No. 130 on comprehensive and differentiated care for pregnant adolescents. However, reports of increased rates of sexual violence and rape against adolescents, the high incidence of forced pregnancies and the high rates of total maternal mortality were concerning. What measures had been implemented to reduce teenage pregnancy? Reports indicated that the contraceptive pill was not widely available and that less than 20 per cent of adolescents were provided with the pill. What measures were put in place to reduce the high rate of teenage pregnancy and mortality, particularly in rural areas? How would unsafe abortion practices be addressed? How would the State party make health facilities accessible to all? How were sexual education and sexual and reproductive rights implemented for teenagers?
A Committee Expert said that reports of torture as well as excessive force by the police and armed forces were concerning. Did legislation regulating both phenomena align with the Istanbul Protocol?
The 31012 Law, which prohibited pre-trial detention against police officers who caused injury or death and repealed the principle of proportionality in the use of force, was also concerning. What measures did the State party intend to adopt to prevent impunity and guarantee the accountability of the perpetrators and masterminds of cases of torture or improper use of force by law enforcement agencies, as well as ensure access to justice for victims?
In the protests, 1,301 people had been injured, including 912 civilians. Could the delegation confirm that by order of the Ministry of Health and the National Police in public hospitals, the identity information of injured protesters was being classified for the purpose of initiating criminal investigations? Was there a list of those who had died or injured? How many investigations have been initiated regarding the massacres and extrajudicial executions in the city of Ayacucho, and others? What steps were taken to ensure the independence and impartiality of these investigations? Reports received indicated that the police and armed forces used firearms loaded with buckshot. Attacks on journalists were also concerning. Furthermore, four Ministers had resigned from their positions following deaths during the protests. How were any of these phenomena in line with the Covenant?
Massive arbitrary arrests at the University of San Marcos took place under auspices of identity control. Further reports had been received of searches within student housing, attacks on demonstrators, people brutally beaten in prison, sexual assault by police officers and lawyers have been denied access to their clients or even assaulted for attempting to defend their clients related to the protests. False evidence such as machetes had been planted by police. Did the police target indigenous peoples such as Apurímac, Ayacucho and Puno and people in rural and disadvantaged areas? Had the terruqueo or terrorism laws been used to imprison citizens exercising their rights to protest?
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the fight against terrorism had sent a letter saying that the definition of terrorism had to be brought in line with international standards so it would not be applied in an arbitrary manner. What measures would be put in place to ensure impartial investigations of those responsible for human rights violations such as extrajudicial executions, torture and attacks on freedom of expression? How would the State party guarantee free legal assistance to the victims and not only to the perpetrators? What measures were in place to regularly train security forces and the police in matters of public order? How would the State party impose the principles of necessity, proportionality and reasonableness in the use of force by law enforcement? What measures were adopted to implement the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture under the mandate of the Ombudsman?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation expressed surprise at some of the data regarding the excessive use of force and extrajudicial killings, and called on Committee Experts to reveal their sources. Peru had a specialised criminal investigation chamber charged with trying human rights violations. Specialised judges duly investigated complaints before bringing charges.
A committee specialised in investigating events in the 1980s existed to combat impunity. This year on 3 March, a specialized court was created in Puno to investigate human rights violations nationwide. Over 600 cases nationwide were open. Many were complicated, covering torture and enforced disappearances during the period of 1980 to 2000. During the past few months, significant convictions had been issued, guaranteeing justice for the victims and their relatives. Criminal investigations had identified over 3,000 missing persons from remains recently. The public prosecution service had investigations open into forced sterilisation. The public prosecution service reaffirmed its commitment to combatting impunity, including during the period of 1980 to 2000.
The Ministry of the Interior had adopted measures regarding police investigations into human rights violations and the excessive use of force. Decree 1186 was adopted in 2014 to regulate respect for human rights and the appropriate use of force in demonstrations. The current regulatory framework incorporated international standards regarding the use of force and firearms. 67 human rights instructors had been trained. Alleged human rights violations were being investigated by the public prosecution in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior and the police force. From 4 March, 933 persons had been injured, including 651 police officers. The deaths of persons during the demonstration would be investigated. Many workshops throughout the country were carried out on cruel and inhumane treatment and torture. The delegation mentioned a case wherein reparations were paid to the victim. Significant progress had been made in education on the use of force in the military. Human rights violations were investigated by the Public Ministry, which was also in charge of criminal action—not the military court martial. The military police code, which pertained to the armed forces, ensured peace and internal order.
The Ministry of Health looked favourably on laws allowing abortions in cases of rape and inviable foetuses. The Ministry had not received reports of persecution of girls or medical personnel regarding abortions. The procedure was regulated for abortions before 20 months. In 2021, 85 abortions took place. Teenage pregnancy rates had reduced following the implementation of training. Priority populations included the most vulnerable. 27 campaigns on the topic had been implemented. Infant mortality had dropped, and training for handling obstetric emergencies had also been developed. A technical family planning standard ensuring reproductive health included emergency oral contraception. One million emergency oral contraception pills had been provided in 2021.
Reparations were being offered for those effected by the events between 1980 and 2000. 120,000 people were affected and 60 per cent were women. Affected persons received specialised health care in centres throughout the country. 600 disappeared individuals had been identified and psychosocial support had been provided for their families. A genetic database and a national registry also helped in this regard. A law was adopted in 2021 regarding this matter and was in the process of being implemented.
The State party in 2015 identified those who underwent forces sterilisation as a priority group. A registry existed to identify them and provide them with psychosocial care. The Ministry of Women and Vulnerable populations oversaw this process and care was provided throughout the country in 26,000 cases in 2016.
Follow-Up Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert said that the request made by the delegation to reveal sources was impossible under the San José Principles. The Committee could not reveal sources to any State party. Information was received through both the State and other sources.
Another Expert underscored that the information available to the Committee was also available to the delegation through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Ombudsman and the press. The Expert recognized important steps taken to implement training programmes for the police and armed forced, but results were not commensurate with such trainings. How many cases were being investigated by the Public Ministry out of the thousand persons that were killed by the police? Who were investigations being carried out against? Were the persons being investigated legally detained? The denial of access for lawyers and judges was of particular concern. Could the delegation address this? Peru was facing a deep crisis and if the judicial sector could not regain trust of citizens, nothing could be accomplished.
Another Expert asked if the State party would draft a policy that addressed the issue of national memory of human rights violations occurring during the 1980 to 2000 period.
A Committee Expert asked, following the period of social movement this year, could a report on the legal situation be provided regarding charges faced by the former President? Were the former President’s due process rights respected? Were family members of Mr. Castillo also facing charges? What information was available on the investigation opened regarding corruption and irregularities within the Government?
Another Committee Expert asked about health care centres for reproductive health care. An Inter-American Court report highlighted that legislation was in place against obstetric violence, including indigenous women. However, Indigenous women continued to be subjected to widespread obstetric violence. Could the delegation address this?
Trainings and classes for the police were indeed encouraging. How had the Ministry of the Interior assessed the results of the trainings? How could the trainings be squared with the reality of violence in the country? The situation seemed contradictory. What could explain the lack or results?
An Expert noted a lack of complaints by women, girls and medical staff in terms of sexual and reproductive health. This was concerning. How many women had been sanctioned because they asked for an abortion? Similarly, what statistics were available on sanctions for abortion providers?
Had the 19-year-old amicable settlement for victims of forced sterilisation been implemented? Who was being investigated for the sterilisations?
Responses by the Delegation
LUIS JUAN CHUQUIHUARA CHIL, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva, underscored that what happened on 7 December was a coup. Almost the whole of Castillo’s cabinet had resigned. Three hours later, congress used the Constitution to declare Dina Boluarte President. Her appointment was legitimate. Mr. Castillo was being investigated in respect for all his rights. Congress had power over all sub-committees when a coup occurred. The entire process was in line with the law.
The delegation continued, explaining that the counterterrorism law was deemed constitutional by the Constitutional Court. The intervention of the public prosecutor was immediate following the events at the University of San Marcos. An investigation was underway to determine the legal status of detainees. After release, only one protestor had been arrested, and under warrant. A human rights defender as well as specialised prosecution services on human rights intervened immediately in police stations and hospitals to investigate alleged human rights violations and ensure due process. The second prosecution court, which specialised in corruption, was carrying out two separate investigations on Mr. Castillo, one on rebellion and conspiracy and a second on organised crime. The Code of Criminal Procedure guaranteed that rights would be respected.
Currently two complicated proceedings regarding forced sterilisations were underway. The first was in 2019 involving 1,254 women and another in 2016 with 2,626 affected persons. A team specialised in interculturalism and human rights oversaw the proceedings to determine criminal responsibilities. 60 deaths, of which 48 were the result of excessive use of force, occurred during the demonstrations. Investigations were underway to determine if police behaviour was in line with the 1990 Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials.
Trainings for police had been bolstered since 2019. New recruits were trained on international human rights standards and the use of force. The country had been submerged in unprecedented violence. Over 150 public and private premises had been destroyed, and 61 vehicles had been damaged, including ambulances, police and public transport vehicles. Investigations would follow guidelines provided by the Ministry of Interior.
The right to memory was fundamental and a symbolic reparation plan was part of the national reparation plan. Apologies by the State had been carried out and monuments had been constructed. A national plan was being developed to commemorate events between 1980 and 2000 with many domestic and international stakeholders.
Following implementation of the universal health insurance law, 95 per cent of people had access to reproductive health through public or private insurance. Sexual violence kits and mental health care services were available for victims of sexual violence, including for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons.
Follow-Up Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert noted with appreciation that the Public Prosecution had committed to investigating in-depth alleged crimes committed during social demonstrations. The Committee did not condone destruction of property nor violence. The Constitutional Court deemed the counter terrorism law to be constitutional, but that did not mean that the law aligned with international standards. The law had been used to clamp down on demonstrations. The whole of civil society was watching how the laws would further be employed closely. Impunity was of great concern. Law 3102 on police protection made it impossible to issue pre-trial detention for the police and rescinded the principle of proportionality. Was the law still enforced? Would the Prosecution prosecute the police and military under that law or under international standards?
Responses by the Delegation
The investigations relating to alleged human rights violations did indeed abide by international standards, categorically. The police protection act was not being used to provide impunity to police.
LUIS JUAN CHUQUIHUARA CHIL, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva, highlighted that a place had been created in Lima to commemorate victims and descendants of the historic violence. Similar plans were underway in other cities. Further, two soldiers had died in Puno and three had disappeared after jumping into a river to avoid clashing with demonstrators. This information underscored the extent to which the demonstrations had affected Peru’s law enforcement.
Mr. Chuquihuara Chil clarified remarks made on investigations into people who died during demonstrations. The Government was fully compliant with judicial procedures. He recalled the two decades of terror suffered at the hands of the “Shining Path” party, the wounds from which ran deep in the country. A confluence of past and present resulted in a polarisation in the region and worldwide about the right of the State to deal with demonstrations. A multi-stakeholder dialogue needed to be held to create trust.
Follow-Up Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert noted the decision of the Constitutional Court on degrees 1094 and 1095 adopting rules governing police activities and the use of force. Human rights violations were not always tried by normal courts. Was everything the armed forces was doing today also covered under the two laws without the declaration of a state of emergency?
Access to justice systems for indigenous peoples was limited. Was free legal aid provided? How were non-Spanish speakers provided aid? The Committee had noted that there were 79 legal interpreters and translators and 262 interpreters specialized in prior consultations but how was access to justice ensured for these people? Could the delegation describe the free legal assistance system? Who had been able to benefit from it?
Another Expert took note of refugee legislation respecting non-refoulement, however many Venezuelan migrants had been expelled from the country or expulsion had been attempted. Reports had been received by the Ombudsman’s office about victims of trafficking in nightclubs that were not allowed to appeal immigration decisions. Could the delegation address this? What measures were being taken to reduce levels of hate speech in the country? The first official complaints register for attacks against human rights defenders was notable. How many complaints were received? Were any decisions made on them? The Committee was concerned about prosecution of the press through Peruvian legislation on defamation or libel. One-to-three-year prison sentences were issued for libel. A director of a publishing house and journalist were both given conditional prison sentences and fines under such statutes. This set a poor precedent to protect freedom of the press. Would the Penal Code be amended so that the press would not be criminalised and such legal matters would be tried as civil suits?
Attacks against journalists in 2022 included over 100 assaults and threats. A national association documented an increasing trend in attacks on journalists in relation to the demonstrations. What measures would be put in place to protect journalists and human rights defenders? What specific information was available on the number of complaints of attacks or threats against journalists?
Reports had been received that trafficking had worsened. Had measures been adopted for victims of human trafficking? How had the national plan of action on human trafficking in 2021 panned out and would there be a new plan soon? What measures had been taken to address human trafficking and servitude in the extractive industries? Given the high number of women from Venezuela registered as victims of trafficking, what measures were taken to target this population? Could the delegation address the 40 “Pura” women expelled from Peru after being identified as victims of trafficking? What bilateral or multilateral agreements had the country entered to combat human trafficking? Reports of illegal logging and killing of indigenous leaders had increased during the pandemic. What judicial investigations were carried out in these cases? Was it true that currently no indigenous leaders were involved in the multi-sectoral commission? Reports had been received that indigenous persons were forced to accept unilateral decisions. Indigenous communities suffered from oil and mining pollution. What would the State party do about this? What progress had been made by the working group on people of African descent in Peru?
Another Committee Expert noted reports of improvement in infrastructure in prisons to avoid overcrowding, but no other improvements had reportedly been made. Prisons were 400 per cent over capacity in some cases. What measures would be implemented to remedy this that were not deprivation of liberty? What alternatives to prison sentences might the State party implement? What measures were put in place to align detention centres conditions with the Covenant and the Nelson Mandela Rules? The Committee was specifically concerned about prison conditions for those charged with terrorism. Reports were received that they were left without light in small rooms after 4 p.m. Could the delegation also address measures taken to protect persons with disabilities and persons living with HIV?
Another Committee Expert asked what were the primary conclusions in monitoring the application of national strategy for the prevention and eradication of child labour? 8.5 per cent of teenagers aged 14-17 were reportedly working. Could the delegation address this? Artisanal gold mining was fertile ground for child labour, due to lack of oversight. What measures were in place to monitor gold mining? What data was available on forced labour in the extractive industries? What was being done to fight forced labour and provide reparation to victims? Efforts to register births within the country were important for promoting access to public services and marriage rights, as well as to ensure criminal responsibility. Could the delegation comment on migrant women who could not provide identification upon birthing children in hospitals? What was the number of children without identifying documents within the territory?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation noted that Peru respected international human rights standards on non-refoulement. To prevent expulsions, the Special Commission for Refugees held sessions with officials to address such matters. Processes took place to determine whether any person in an expulsion procedure was a refugee or asylum seeker. The Working Group on Migratory Management was working to integrate migrants in the country and combat xenophobia. The World Bank collaborated with the group. Migrants who had their rights undermined could seek legal protection. Reports mentioned by the Experts of the 200 Venezuelans who were deported was new to the delegation and would be passed on. The persons referred to were determined not to be refugees nor seeking refugee status. Those recognised as refugees with proper documentation did not face any difficultly in registering their new-borns. If refugees felt they had been discriminated against, the Special Commission for Refugees received their complaints and took appropriate action in accordance with its capacity. Those in a vulnerable situation were addressed under the Brasilia rules. Itinerant justice was a strategy employed. The Commission visited and worked closely with those living in poverty or in remote areas. This was not a centralised commission, it was decentralised and available in many regions.
Bills were presented before congress to expand the roaming justice system, but none had succeeded yet. The judiciary worked with public and private universities to provide justice to the elderly and persons with disabilities, whose cases were prioritised. Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people was unfortunately still ingrained in Peruvian society, but the State would continue its efforts to achieve all Sustainable Development Goals.
14 specialised courts were established to deal with human trafficking. Guidelines for interviewing adolescents and others existed. In 2022, 126 convictions were handed down, and so far in 2023 20 convictions had been handed down. A retired police officer found responsible for a disappearance and had been issued a 15-year sentence. The State party was hoping for a conviction in four other similar cases. In the context of the demonstrations, the injured journalist was being dealt with by his province’s court. Currently 10 investigations were underway on crimes committed against human rights defenders, and some convictions had been handed down, while other cases were still in trial. The Government often collaborated with indigenous justice systems.
To address human trafficking, the State party made it possible to file civil suits on behalf of minors. Police had been trained on investigation of disappeared persons and related crimes. In 2022, more than 12,000 police officers were trained. 181 officers were trained to pass on their knowledge on investigating human trafficking. 947 victims had been recovered. Five bilateral agreements existed with Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. The Ministry of Labour headed the commission for forced labour, which was developing policy on the area.
Certificates for hospital births were provided through the Ministry of Health. 161 hospitals nationwide had a branch to register births and provide children with identity cards. If no such centre existed, a sworn statement could be made with a justice of the peace. When a child was born in Peru, regardless of the parent’s migratory status, the child would be able to ask for documentation. Birth certificates were always free. Parents’ fingerprints were listed on babies’ identification to prevent trafficking. 91,000 children born during the pandemic were left unregistered. Different strategies such as registration applications had been created to aid in resolving this issue. Registering the 91,000 children was a priority for the State party.
Follow-Up Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert noted that children in the mining industry were subject to dangerous conditions and forced labour. How was this being addressed? Often this occurred in isolated areas and therefore would have additional obstacles for justice.
An Expert raised concerns over reports that legal aid was often not free and when it was, it was flawed. Were people working in public defence or legal aid aware of these flaws? What measures were in place to ensure that people in need of free legal aid could receive it?
Could more information be provided on the 40 Ecuadorian victims of trafficking that were deported? Could the delegation address the conditions of indigenous people?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that free legal aid had been provided in 600,000 cases in 2021, and 1,230,000 interventions were made nationwide in 2022. Indigenous affairs were dealt with by region-specific legal teams. Advice was provided to indigenous and rural peoples. Human rights defenders also received advice. In 2023, 42 applications for the early warning system for human rights defenders had been received and nine cases had been resolved. Two were deemed inadmissible. Risk areas were constantly monitored and 328 human rights defenders and their relatives were cared for. 970 cases of human trafficking were being pursued and 532 had ended in conviction.
Peru was a multi-ethnic country that was home to 48 languages and linguistic diversity was respected. A Supreme Court decree of 2023 modified the makeup of the multi-sectoral commission. The commission was made up of regional bodies and members of parliament as well as indigenous organisations. The commission had met three times this year.
A draft law had been prepared on the reinsertion into society of victims of forced labour and trafficking. A programme provided technical skills training in areas hit heavily with such crimes, such as Puno. The programme also identified and addressed problems arising during the reinsertion process. Further psychological care was provided to victims. A pilot programme provided training in entrepreneurship with seed-capital loans. A national policy for the prevention and eradication of forced labour was being drafted. Digitisation of data would further streamline and strengthen public policy on those crimes. There had been a reduction in child labour between 2012 and 2019. There had been an increase, however, in the rate of child labour by one to two per cent during the pandemic.
The Ministry of Health released a technical document in 2021 on the provision of psychological care for youth and child victims of trafficking. The document issued guidelines for health care professionals A national plan addressed trafficking in persons for the period of 2017 to 2021. Updates to the plan would take a new budget for response measures into account.
Participation of armed forces in police operations domestically was in line with international obligations. A legislative decree allowed for a state of emergency to be established in any situation in which the armed forced needed to intervene, such as to stop hostile groups or to re-establish order. International guidelines for human rights outside of a state of emergency would be respected. Any possible human rights violations would be investigated by the Public Ministry and not the military.
LUIS JUAN CHUQUIHUARA CHIL, Permanent Representative of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva, noted that in the three months since the dastardly coup, the administration headed by President Boluarte had done its utmost to restore order and had promoted dialogue. The State would respect peaceful protests. When groups resorted to violence and vandalism in demonstrations, the authorities had to restore peace. All compatriots were deeply affected by the loss of life. Peru remained opened to the human rights system and would leave invitations open for special procedures mandate holders. Last Monday, a Peruvian Minister expressed the country’s openness to scrutiny, signing a memorandum of understanding with the Human Rights Council. Peru also shared its best practices in promoting the rights of women and preventing drug trafficking. Mr. Chuquihuara Chil addressed the committees established to investigate the social unrest in Peru and expressed the importance of dialogue. Peru was an imperfect democracy but was not in a constitutional crisis. The current administration was solid. He thanked the Experts for the opportunity to improve Peru’s democracy. Democracy was in a moment of crisis world-wide. Peru was not unaffected but would stick to a path of human rights.
TANIA MARÍA ABDO ROCHOLL, Committee Chairperson, thanked the Experts and the Committee for a difficult but important dialogue that provided necessary clarification on the current human rights situation. Issues discussed included on instruments supporting rules and recommendations, support for the Ombudsman’s Office, repression during demonstrations, violence against women, judicial independence, access to justice and the elimination of slavery and forced labour. She congratulated the delegation on their disciplined responses.
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