IACHR demands Peru annul bill on statute of limitations for crimes against humanity

IACHR demands Peru annul bill on statute of limitations for crimes against humanity
IACHR demands Peru annul bill on statute of limitations for crimes against humanity

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) issued provisional measures for the relatives of the victims of Barrios Altos and La Cantuta, the massacres for which the former dictator was convicted Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000), and required the Peruvian State to “through its three powers, take the necessary actions so that the bill that provides for the statute of limitations for crimes against humanity.

In a ruling issued on Monday, the court stressed that the sentences in these cases, for which Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison, make “reference” to these crimes and urged the annulment of “other similar legislative initiatives, in order to guarantee the right of access to justice for the victims of these cases.”

The Court also ordered the State to submit a full and detailed report on compliance with the resolution by August 9, 2024. It must then report every three months on the provisional measures adopted until the court decides that they are no longer necessary.

The resolution also requires that the representatives of the victims submit their observations within a period of four weeks from the notification of the State’s reports. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), for its part, must submit its observations within two weeks after receiving the representatives’ observations.

Last June, Congress approved, in its first vote, a bill that prohibits the prosecution of any person for crimes against humanity or war crimes for events that occurred in the country before 2002 and, therefore, excludes the period of internal conflict in which 69,000 people died.

The court had already required Peru to suspend the processing of the project in order to have “all the necessary elements” to rule on its impact on the cases of Barrios Altos and La Cantutaand regarding a request for provisional measures, which are issued in cases of extreme gravity and urgency.

Following this pronouncement, Congress rejected “any form of national or foreign interference.” Association for Human Rights (Aprodeh) and five other civil entities filed a request for precautionary measures, in which they asked the court to order the State to stop the processing of this initiative that, according to the United Nations, contravenes international law.

Alberto Fujimori, pictured through a window, faces trial at a police station outside Lima. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia, File)

A second vote by the legislature is required for the law to be approved. UN experts have warned that if the bill is approved, it would put Peru in breach of its international obligations, as statutes of limitations do not apply to serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

“The imprescriptibility of crimes against humanity is a rule of juscogens and customary international law, from which no derogation is permitted and to which Peru must adhere,” they said in a joint statement. They also indicated that the formula encourages impunity and is in contradiction with the rule of law.

Like Fujimori – who was released from prison but remains under investigation for another massacre attributed to the Colina group – other former officials of his regime, such as his former intelligence adviser Vladimiro Montesinos and former military leadershave been put on trial for alleged human rights abuses committed between 1980 and 2000, during the years when the Shining Path and the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) waged a war against the state.

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