Peru’s government will lodge a formal complaint against the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for its decision to hear dozens of legal appeals from Shining Path guerrillas.
The plaintiffs in 59 unique appeals are jailed Shining Path rebels who claim their civil rights were violated in two trials. The Shining Path cases were initially tried in closed courts known as “faceless judges” under Alberto Fujimori’s government. After Fujimori resigned and went into exile, new trials were held in civilian courts. The appeals look to dismiss the second trials’ verdicts given the evidence was obtained through torture. The appeals also contend the prison sentences.
In calling the IACHR decision “outrageous,” justice minister Gustavo Adrianzen maintains each case was tried in a fair and transparent manner. “We are lodging a firm protest of the highest level. How is it possible that the commission has reversed course like this and accepted these 59 cases in which there is nothing to discuss? They are terrorists duly processed and imprisoned,” Adrianzen said. “The commission has committed a very grave error that is affecting the Peruvian state.”
Politicians across party lines in Peru condemned the commission’s decision to hear the rebels’ cases. The only political division arose around the question of withdrawing from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Adrianzen told reporters that because an insufficient case could land Peru in front of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, he did not dismiss the prospect of exiting the convention and highlighted that it is allowed for in the Pact of San Jose.
However prime minister Pedro Cateriano contradicted the defense minister immediately afterwards. “When the doors of justice closed in Peru, the Inter-American court was precisely what allowed many Peruvians to find justice,” Cateriano said. “We need to be watchful that the court acts based on judicial principles and not on ideological or political prejudice, which is a question for not only Peru but also some other countries in Latin America.”
Officials from previous governments also expressed disappointment. “The state corrected all the errors. New trials were held, this time will all the guarantees,” said Roberto Chiabra, former defense minister under Alejandro Toledo. He added that the faceless trials were necessary in the 1990s because judges feared retribution from the guerrilla army. Jorge del Castillo, former prime minister under Alan Garcia, agreed that the formal protest was necessary but argued it is more important that Peru present a strong case to the commission.
Several members of congress have called for a withdrawal from the commission. According to fujimorista congressman Juan Diaz, “This is the Commission of Shame, a commission that is attacking the security of the Peruvian state. If it insists on these rulings, they should be declared infeasible by the Peruvian state and we should immediately withdraw from the court, at least in cases of terrorism.”
Peru is currently awaiting the Inter-American Court on Human Rights verdict in a case brought by the families of rebels killed in the Chavin de Huanta assault. On Dec. 17, 1996, rebels from the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement stormed the San Isidro home of the Japanese ambassador during a party. On April 22, 1997, over 100 Peruvian commandos entered the residence via underground tunnels inspired by the Chavin de Huanta ruins in Ancash. The commandos liberated 71 of 72 hostages. Two commandos, one hostage and all 14 rebels were killed.