Peru: 'impunity' bill for crimes against humanity

The Constitutional Commission of the Peruvian Congress on March 12 approved Bill No. 6951/2023-CR, which establishes that no one may be prosecuted, sentenced or punished for crimes against humanity or war crimes committed before July 1, 2002. As a result, emblematic cases from the period of internal violence in Peru between 1980 and 2000, which are still awaiting a definitive judicial response, could be closed.

According to the bill, the continuation of open trials for war crimes and crimes against humanity, when such trials began before the entry into force of the Rome Statute (2002) and the Convention on the Imprescriptibility of Crimes of War & Crimes against Humanity (2003), is contrary to the principle of non-retroactivity in criminal law. 

Refuting the arguments put forward in the bill, representatives of the Institute of Democracy & Human Rights of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (IDEHPUCP) pointed out that the obligations of the Peruvian state regarding the investigation and punishment of human rights violations and reparation to the victims precede these international treaties by a long way. They stated that "the use of a legal device cannot, under any circumstances, imply the denial of these obligations and their correlative rights."

The bill has both supporters and opponents in the Peruvian Congress. In the right-wing bloc, Congressmember Fernando Rospigliosi (Fuerza Popular) defended the bill, stating that it seeks to correct the injustices committed against the military and police who defeated terrorism. On the other hand, Congressmember Sigrid Bazán (Cambio Democrático) stated via Twitter (translated): "The Constitutional Commission, thanks to Fuerza Popular, has just approved an 'Amnesty Law' that is actually a #LawOfImpunity under another name."

Between 1980 and 2000, Peru faced an internal armed conflict, with the Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path (PCP-SL) waging a "people's war" against the state. Peru's Truth & Reconciliation Commission (CVR) found that the conflict resulted in approximately 69,280 deaths, with 54% attributed to the PCP-SL and the remainder to the security forces and other actors.

Although the CVR recommended that all these crimes be promptly investigated, there are judicial processes related to crimes committed during the conflict that have been ongoing for more than 20 years. These incude the 1983 Manta and Vilca case, in Huancavelica region, which involved widespread and systematic acts of sexual violence committed by the military.

The bill is next to be debated in the Plenary of the Peruvian Congress for final approval. If passed, the bill would be sent to President Dina Boluarte for enactment within 15 working days. However, the president can object if she deems the bill contrary to the Constitution or international treaties ratified by the Peruvian state.

From Jurist, March 13. Used with permission.

Peru: 'impunity' bill for crimes against humanity approved

The Peruvian Congress approved a bill July 4 that introduces a statute of limitations for crimes against humanity in the second vote, despite opposition from human rights organizations for its potential interruption of ongoing investigations into serious abuses. 

In June, following the first vote in favor of the bill, a group of UN experts warned that the legislation contravenes international standards. "Statutes of limitations cannot apply to gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law which constitute crimes under international law," they said. On June 13, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the Peruvian state to suspend this legislative process, asserting that the proposed exemptions are "contrary to the American Convention on Human Rights (ACHR) in cases of serious human rights violations." 

Next, the Bill will need to be signed by the Peruvian President Dina Boluarte before implementation. The President can object if she deems it contrary to the Constitution or international treaties ratified by the Peruvian State. (Jurist)