• March 7, 2023

Peru: UN experts call for end to violence during demonstrations

In an appeal for “genuine dialogue” to resolve the crisis, the experts expressed deep concern about the reported repression, arbitrary killings, arrests, detention and enforced disappearances of demonstrators in Peru.

The situation stems from Congress’s removal of then president, Pedro Castillo on 7 December, after he was accused of trying to dissolve it.

Mr. Castillo remains in pre-trial detention on charges of rebellion and conspiracy. He was replaced by Mrs. Dina Boluarte, who was sworn in as the next president.

Democratic ‘credibility crisis’

“People have the right to protest and raise their concerns about political changes that affect their lives and livelihoods,” the experts said, before warning that Peru’s democracy was “facing a credibility crisis”.

Since the protests began last December, Peru’s Ombudsman has reported that 48 protestors and one law enforcement agent have been killed, while 1,301 people have been injured and hundreds have been arrested.

In reaction to demonstrations, the new Government declared a state of emergency for a month that has now been renewed twice. New general elections have not been scheduled and demands for constitutional reform have not been addressed, the experts noted.

What begins as a lawful detention initially, can lead to a case of “enforced disappearance” if the authorities fail to acknowledge that a person is indeed imprisoned, or they fail to give information about the detainee’s whereabouts.

Notify families

“It is important to provide information to the victims and their families about advances in the investigations”, the independent rights experts said.

They also expressed concerns about reports of violence against journalists and media workers covering the protests, including deliberate targeting by police forces, and urged the Government to take all measures necessary to ensure that media workers covering the events can operate safely.

Accountability guarantee

The experts reiterated the obligation of the State to conduct thorough, prompt, effective, impartial and independent investigations into alleged human rights violations.  They reminded that accountability for rights violations committed during the protests, must be guaranteed.

“While the State must ensure accountability for reported acts of violence committed by some protestors, a distinction must be made between those who exercise their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and those who commit acts of violence in the context of demonstrations,” the experts said.

The experts noted that the repression by State authorities had disproportionally affected human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, and peasant communities across Peru.

The experts are calling on the Peruvian Government for a swift political solution, taking into account the need for accountability, and an end to violence and repression in the context of the protests.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work. 

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