Peru’s congress has enacted a new law aimed at curbing the influence of drug trafficking and organized crime in government.
If a member of congress is unseated for having links to drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorism or human trafficking, their political party will no longer retain the right to appoint an alternate to the congressional seat. The position will remain vacant.
The “Empty Seat” law, inspired by similar legislation in Colombia known as Empty Chair, was approved by a vote of 72 in favor, 17 against and one abstention.
“This law will teach the political parties to bring only well-chosen candidates to Congress,” said congresswoman Lourdea Alcorta, one of the bill’s main sponsors. Alcorta added that thorough vetting by political parties will prevent corrupt politicians from profiting from their positions.
The law has been criticized by imprisoned ex-President Alberto Fujimori. In a open letter to the press, Fujimori writes, “The Constitution established a congress of 130 members, not one more or less. A criminal penalty is for the individual. It should does punish the alternate who has done nothing wrong. How would Tacna, Moquegua and Madre de Dios fare with an empty chair? Zero representation?”
Other opponents contend that few congressmen with links to drug trafficking have been successfully prosecuted, so this law would not have any effect. However the law passed with broad support, including Fujimori’s Popular Force Party and President Humala’s ruling coalition, Peru Wins.
Pleno de Congreso aprobó norma de ‘curul vacía’ (La Republica)