Commissioners: Rosa-Marie Belle Antoine, Dina Shelton, José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, Emilio Álvarez Icaza (Executive Secretary)
State: State of Perù
The Petitioners came before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to address several issues regarding the 2001 establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). The TRC was established following extensive violence in the 1980’s and 1990’s under President Alberto Fujimori. Petitioners addressed problems with the TRC’s budget, location, as the judicial administration takes place within 100 kilometers of the location where the actual crimes took place, and a severe backlog of pending cases from 2005. The Petitioners further asserted that the crimes against humanity are not isolated incidents but are part of a systematic pattern and that political interference remains. Petitioners explained that there are over 15,751 cases of disappeared people but no plan for exhuming bodies and no public policy to deal directly with forced disappearances.
The Plaintiffs stated that only 27,000 victims have been registered, but a large number of victims’ needs have not been addressed. The Plaintiffs explained that the Peruvian government has not provided 34% of the funds that it is supposed to give the public defender. The Plaintiffs also noted that there is no policy to honor the victims with courses offered in public or private universities affected by the conflict.
State representatives asserted that the TRC is not designed for impunity as may be inferred by the Petitioners. Having a backlog of cases is not a unique problem that only affects Peru, but it is an epidemic that is affecting the entire world. The State argued that the Petitioners are focusing on individual cases instead of on the bigger picture and that they are looking at the fragmented analysis of the successes of the court. The representatives highlighted the efforts by the State to investigate crimes against humanity including reopening cases of forced sterilization, adopting a new data bank in the registry that will be open to the public, and exhuming 2,620 bodies. Additionally, the State emphasized that it has been working to investigate and bring justice for human rights violations.
The State representatives did not directly answer if the reparation committee had been closed, but described its procedures for identifying victims for reparations, which were done through identification and evaluation of the individual and collective victims who were killed, disappeared, kidnapped, or forcibly displaced. The State explained that all of the information is available to the public. The State has more than 29,380 reparations this year. Additionally, the Ministry of Education has designed a multi-year plan where literacy programs, alternative and educational programs, and scholarships are made available.
Commissioner José de Jesús Orozco acknowledged that there are still many challenges in the truth and reconciliation process in Peru. He found it noteworthy that the courts are reopening forced sterilization cases. He asked the Petitioners to provide a recommendation on how the State can move forward in investigating forced disappearances. The Commissioner pointed out discrepancies in the data provided by the State and the Petitioners, and he recommended that the State continue working on exhuming more victims. He asked the reasons for closing down the registry.
Commissioner Rosa-Marie Belle Antoine asked if there are domestic mechanisms to iron out these issues. She recommended for the parties to have a more open dialogue. Commissioner Dinah Shelton asked questions about whether individuals have the opportunity to directly seek reparations in the judicial system, if they have identified the perpetrators, and about the type of evidence needed to be registered in the registry.
The Petitioners responded by pointing out that Article 4 explicitly states that the comprehensive reparation program does not protect persons who have been sentenced of terrorism. They also asked the State to appropriate a public defenders officer with a timeline.
The States answered that the civil registry of the victims has been closed, but that other aspects of the reparation commission are still open.
There has been much progress made by the TRC in Peru, but there are also significant challenges that remain.