Celebrating 25 Years of Scoop
Special: Up To 25% Off Scoop Pro Learn More

Search

 

Cablegate: Peru: Human Rights Update

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 LIMA 003474

SIPDIS

DRL for KBrokenshire, CNewling, KCumberland, JSchechter

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PE
SUBJECT: Peru: Human Rights Update

REF: A) Lima 3337
B) Lima 2931
C) Lima 2865
D) Lima 2391
E) Lima 1790
F) Lima 2074
G) Lima 928
H) Lima 462
I) Lima 2004 Human Rights Report

1. The following report provides a mid-year update on the
Human Rights situation in Peru. It is not meant to be
comprehensive, but rather to identify emerging trends and
highlight key issues. Peru's human rights situation, in
terms of the GOP's respect for the human rights of citizens,
continues to improve, though significant challenges remain.

2. A separate update will be filed for Trafficking in
Persons.

--------
Summary:
--------

3. This human rights update covers highlights of the first
half of 2005. Themes discussed include the following:

-GOP/NGOs Start Identity Rights Campaign (para 4-6)

-Ombudsman Reports Drop in Caseload (para 7)

-The Right to Life: Police Abuse, Prosecution for the
Accomarca/Cayara Massacres, and Mob Justice (paras 8-11)

-Disappearances: Police Arrested for Kidnapping (para 12)

-Witness Protection (para 13)

-Prison Battle Spurs Construction Plans (para 12)

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

-Press Freedom Issues (paras 15-18)

-Outreach to Evangelical Christians on Religious Freedom
(paras 19)

-Human Rights Notes: First Female is No. 1 Non-Com, Military
Vote, Gays and Lesbians March, Racism in Ads Scored (para
20)

-Comment: Governability and Human Rights (para 21)

----------------------------------
Identity Rights Campaign Continues
----------------------------------

4. The Women's Ministry (MIMDES) - in conjunction with the
National Office for Registry and Identification (RENIEC),
the National Institute for Adolescent and Child Welfare
(INABIF), various utilities, the Catholic Church, and a
variety of private companies - announced the National
Crusade for the Right to a Name at a meeting in Lima on
2/17. The campaign will raise parents' awareness about the
importance of getting birth certificates for their children.
Right now, an estimated fifteen percent of Peruvian births
go unregistered, producing a total of 95,000 new persons
each year without a birth certificate. Poor indigenous
women and children in rural areas are highly overrepresented
among those lacking basic identity documents.

5. Leaders of the crusade are undertaking a number of
public activities throughout the provinces. The coalition
is also proposing a change in Peruvian Law that would allow
single mothers to register children born out of wedlock with
the last name of the presumed father. (Registry itself
would not be considered proof of paternity under this
proposal.)

6. Comment: Post has followed Peru's Identity Rights
Movement since last fall. Pushed by Oxfam Great Britain,
the campaign addresses a cross-cutting issue, one that
affects a number of areas, including voting rights, property
rights, trafficking in persons, the rights of children, etc.
Perhaps the most attractive aspect of the Right to a Name
Crusade is that what it proposes - a reduction in the
numbers of undocumented persons - is an achievable goal.
Post would be eager to learn of similar campaigns in Latin
America or in other developing countries to explore possible
cooperation.

---------------------------
Ombudsman's Case Load Drops
---------------------------

7. The Ombudsman's Office attended almost 60,000 cases -
among them consultations, complaints and petitions - during
2004 and 2005, according to the Eighth Annual Report of that
office presented to Congress in early June. The total
caseload covered from April 2004 to April 2005; it
represented a drop of 13.4 percent from the previous year.

--------------------------------------------- --------
Questions on Exercise of Criminal Court Jurisdiction
over Military Accused in Massacre Prosecution
--------------------------------------------- --------

8. Judge Walter Castillo of Lima's Third Provincial Penal
Court on 6/1 ordered 29 members of the military, some
retired, others who remain on active duty, detained for
having allegedly massacred 72 campesinos in the town of
Accomarca in Ayacucho in 1985. Among those to be arrested
was General Jose Williams Zapata, an active duty military
officer considered a hero of the operation Chauvin de
Huantar, where 74 hostages at the Japanese Ambassador's
Residence were rescued from MRTA terrorists in April 1997.
The defendants appealed their detention, and a higher court
ordered that Williams Zapata remain free on his own
recognizance. So far, the police have not detained any of
the accused military figures.

9. In a similar case, Judge Miluzka Cano Lopez of Lima's
Fourth Provincial Penal Court ordered the arrest of 118
military figures, including retired General Jose Valdivia
Duenas, for allegedly having carried out a massacre of 37
campesinos in the remote town of Cayara in Ayacucho on
5/14/1988. The court has also announced that it will ask
former President Alan Garcia to testify in the case on 8/29.
The accused in the case have yet to be detained by the
police.

10. Comment: Press reports have criticized the fact that
the accused have yet to be detained. Sources at the
Institute for Legal Defense (IDL) say that both cases test
the power of the police to arrest members of the military
accused of human rights violations. They contend that
Peruvian National Police (PNP) officials are afraid to make
the necessary arrests. PNP Officials have told RSO that the
arrests are in process. Active duty military officers are
supposed to be detained by military authorities, and the
judges are working with the military on this issue. Many of
the retired soldiers who are facing charges are former NCOs
and are very difficult to locate, according to the PNP.
Embassy will continue to monitor these attempts by criminal
court judges to exercise jurisdiction over current and
former military members. End Comment.

-----------
Mob Justice
-----------

11. Incidents of mob justice continue to be a human rights
problem (Ref E). On March 26, Fermin Duran Inga, age 39,
was found in a men's bathroom with a five year old girl in a
large, popular market in San Martin de Porres. Duran said
that the girl was in the bathroom when he entered. Local
merchants discounted Duran's story and were about to lynch
him when the police arrived. Later, the girl received a
detailed medical examination and no signs of abuse were
discovered. There were other cases of near-lynchings and
one frustrated attempt to burn three people who had robbed a
taxi cab driver in Lima in late April. In early June, angry
Aymara residents of the village of Masocruz in Puno burned
alive two local men accused of theft. One died and the
other remains severely injured.

--------------------------
Kidnapping Involves Police
--------------------------

12. Four Policemen are accused of kidnapping and extortion
in the abduction of Lima businessman Raul Carlos Tucto
Vigilio. He was abducted in February and his wife was
forced to pay USD 30,000 for his release. Four police
officers are charged with organizing the abduction. They
are also being investigated for other crimes. Press reports
stated that one officer's file contained four hundred
previous citations for improper conduct.

-----------------------------
Witness Protection Still Weak
-----------------------------

13. For the third time in fifteen months, unknown
assailants tried to kill Luis Alberto Ramirez, the key
witness in the trial of General Luiz Perez for the murders
at the December Ninth Barracks in Huancayo from 1991-1993.
Ramirez was fired upon by unknown persons as he left the
Institute for Legal Defense (IDL), a human rights and legal
defense organization, at 6:30 PM on 6/1. A police escort
saved Ramirez' life by covering Ramirez with his own body as
he returned fire on the assailants.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Prison Battle Spurs Promises to Build New Facilities
--------------------------------------------- -------

14. Prisoners at Peru's San Juan de Lurigancho prison
fought a virtual civil war over which faction would control
the smuggling of drugs and guns into the facility on 2/8
(Ref G). Five were killed and twenty-five wounded as
inmates from different cell blocks battled for eight hours,
using an astonishing array of arms that included revolvers,
hand-held automatic weapons (among them 9 mm Uzis), and hand
grenades. Five hundred police were called in to quell the
violence. Prison experts warned that anarchy in Lurigancho
cannot be solved without reforms to Peru's clogged and
corrupt judicial system. In his address to the nation on
7/28, president Toledo promised that the GOP would construct
two more high security prisons (Ref A).

-------------
Press Freedom
-------------

15. In January, the Anti-Corruption Chamber of the Lima
Superior Court convicted fifteen persons -- among them
former newspaper owners, military officers, and government
officials -- to prison sentences ranging from two to eight
years for participating in a scheme directed by former
President Alberto Fujimori's Intelligence Advisor, Vladimiro
Montesinos, to manipulate the news through systematic bribes
paid to the owners, editors, and writers of various tabloids
during Fujimori's second term (1995-2000). The court's
decision received highly favorable coverage in the local
media, whose members believe that Montesinos' manipulations
undermined their own credibility (Ref H).

16. A group of Aguarunas, an Amazonian indigenous group,
kidnapped journalist Luis Alberto Pena Vergaray and his
translator for five days in May. Allegedly, the kidnapping
was motivated by locals' desire to participate in an
investigation into the killings of four health workers in
the same area earlier in the year (Refs B, D).

17. The Lima Superior Court's Fifth Chamber nullified a
trial court's conviction of British journalists Sally Bowen
and Jane Holligan for libeling narco-kingpin Fernando
Zevallos on 6/27 (Ref C). Bowen's and Holligan's case
became a cause celebre for press freedom when, in May, a
lower court ruled that both were guilty of libel for having
quoted a source in their book, "The Accidental Spy," who
alleged that Fernando Zevallos was a narcotrafficker (Ref
F). (Note: Zevallos appeared on the most recent USG Drug
Kingpin List. End Note.) The Superior Court found that
trial court Judge Alfredo Catacora had violated Bowen's and
Holligan's due process rights and ordered a new trial before
a different judge. The court also issued a reprimand to
Judge Catacora and recommended that the judiciary's
disciplinary agency, the Office of Control of Magistrates
(OCMA), investigate Catacora's conduct. While the new
ruling does not end the case, it starts the process of
reversing a much-protested miscarriage of justice and
infringement upon press freedom.

18. Brothers Moises and Alex Wolfenson, two newspaper
publishers on trial for press and media corruption during
the Fujimori era, were released on 7/9 as the result of a
decision of the Supreme Court, which applied a law recently
passed by Congress that equated house arrest with prison
sentencing in calculating the total of time served. The
Wolfensons' release set off a public outcry and two weeks
later the Constitutional Tribunal found the new law
unconstitutional. The Wolfensons' returned to detention.
Congress has since revoked the law.

---------------------------------------
Peruvian Evangelical Christians and HRR
---------------------------------------
19. The Human Rights Report can be an excellent vehicle for
outreach to new groups. Its advocacy for religious equality
in the eyes of the law proved a winning point with Peru's
rapidly growing Evangelical Christian community. On 3/29,
Emboff made a presentation about U.S. Human Rights Policy
and the role of Human Rights in U.S. History to the Union of
Peruvian Evangelical Christians (UNICEP), an umbrella
organization that represents some 6,000 churches with a
total membership of 300,000 nationwide. Peruvian
Evangelicals are pushing hard to amend Article 50 of the
Peruvian Constitution, which recognizes the special historic
role that the Catholic Church has played in Peruvian
society. Article 50 has become the basis for a number of
special tax, educational and legal benefits that the
Catholic Church enjoys. (Note: If other posts are
interested in a draft of the PowerPoint presentation used, e-
mail brooksdc2@state.gov. End Note.)

------------------
Human Rights Notes
------------------

20. The following noteworthy events also took place during
the period.

-First Female Takes Top Spot in Air Force School: In March,
Maria Veronica Estrada Sevillano, 21 years of age, became
the first woman to enter as the top ranked cadet into the
Peruvian Air Force's School for Non-Commissioned Officers.
Estrada scored highest of 212 cadets on the school's
entrance exam, the first time that a woman has achieved this
honor in the school's 64 year history. Of 212 cadets in
the entering class, 74 are women. Ms. Estrada's achievement
made front page headlines in Lima daily of record "El
Comercio." She plans to become an airplane mechanic.

-Military Members Get the Vote: The Peruvian Congress
approved a law extending voting rights to serving members of
the Military and Police on March 10. Both groups will be
able to exercise suffrage in 2006. The new law will extend
voting rights to an additional 200,000 persons.

-Lesbians, Gays and Bisexuals March in Lima: A group of
hundreds of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals marched in
downtown Lima on 7/16. This was the fourth annual such
march. Congresswoman Cecilia Tait, author of a draft law
prohibiting sexual discrimination, addressed the marchers,
who were accompanied by a variety of youth and leftist
groups.

-Lima Anti-Racism Activists Award "Prizes" for Racist Ads:
The Lima-based Association in Favor of Human Rights (APDH),
a branch of the National Coordination Group for Human
Rights, has been running a strong campaign focusing on
racism in Peruvian daily life. The group has carried out
demonstrations, published articles and, last March, gave out
awards to companies it felt used racist and socially
excluding images in advertising. This year's winner was
Grupo Gloria, S.A., a producer of milk-based products whose
advertising, according to critics, only features ethnically
white Peruvians. (Peruvian advertising in general features
blonde, blue-eyed persons, who form a distinct minority. It
also frequently portrays darker-skinned individuals,
particularly Afro-Peruvians, in terms of negative
stereotypes.)

--------
Comment:
--------

21. Peru's human rights situation, in terms of the GOP's
respect for the human rights of citizens, continues to
improve. A worrisome trend is the violation of human rights
by non-state actors - narcotraffickers, police acting
outside official duties, violent criminals, citizen
vigilantes and others - in ways that suggest how gaps in
governability threaten citizens and produce frustration with
democracy.
STRUBLE

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
World Headlines

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.