Peru in the spotlight for crimes against humanity: Boluarte’s government responsible for murders

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The FIDH and APRODEH request that an investigation be opened at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the murder of 49 people and for the 937 injured during the protests of 2022 and 2023. Their report submitted to the ICC details the disproportionate and indiscriminate violence used by military and police against mainly young, indigenous men. Both organisations denounce the growing authoritarianism, endemic corruption, and the capture of institutions in a context marked by the breakdown of democratic order under the rule of Dina Boluarte.

Lima, The Hague, 25 June 2024. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and one of its member organisations in Peru, la Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH), held a meeting today with the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) during which they submitted a communication under Article 15 of the Rome Statute detailing evidence of the crimes against humanity involving murder and attempted murder in Peru between 7 December 2022 and 9 February 2023. They also published a summary of the communication delivered to the ICC today (attached).

In these documents, the two organisations describe in detail the systematic attack on protesters in Peru, in which disproportionate and indiscriminate violence was used by military and police against mainly young, Indigenous men. Despite knowledge of the deaths and injuries, the policy of use of violence —organised and approved by senior government authorities— continued for two months. These acts clearly constitute crimes against humanity as defined by the Rome Statute. Consequently, the two organisations have requested that the ICC Prosecutor open an investigation on Peru.

Gloria Cano, director of APRODEH, explains that "a very detailed profiling of the 49 victims has been done, case by case. The causes of death for each person and the patterns of injuries, such as bullet impacts (to torsos and faces), were examined. The majority were killed while exercising their legitimate right to protest. The efforts towards justice, which, to date, have been conducted through the prosecutor’s office to clarify the bases of the crimes committed by the police and members of the army, are also specified."

Jimena Reyes, director of the Americas desk at FIDH, denounces "the evident racism in the murders that took place in Andahuaylas, Ayacucho, and Juliaca, which predominantly affected the Indigenous population (Quechuas and Aymaras). The government, without any evidence, accused the protesters of belonging to terrorist groups. For this reason, among others, the operations, which had the tactical and armed capacity of the security forces, resulted in violent repression against the protesters through the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force."

The various elements collected point to the existence of orders and resources given by high-level authorities in Dina Boluarte’s government, with the explicit aim of ending the demonstrations at any cost. The violent repression of protesters and others present, both by the police and the army, were preceded by Operational Plans, which were justified through the Emergency Decrees issued by the presidency and the Council of Ministers. Moreover, after the deaths and injuries, senior government authorities, including President Dina Boluarte, publicly denied responsibility, blaming the demonstrators themselves for the violence they had suffered and branding them as terrorists.

Democratic collapse in Peru

The document also analyses the context of the democratic crisis that has been unfolding in Peru since 2021. Through the report Peru: Growing authoritarianism and erosion of rights FIDH, along with its member organisations in Peru, APRODEH, Perú - Equidad, and CEDAL, have highlighted the causes that have led to the institutional breakdown and the destruction of the rule of law in the country.

In what the organisations have denounced as a shady government pact, various conservative and autocratic-leaning factions in Congress have attempted to usurp and instrumentalise, with the approval of the presidency, various public bodies, including the Public Ministry and the National Justice Board (the oversight body for prosecutors, judges, and electoral system authorities). Among other actions, they have achieved the release of former President Alberto Fujimori, who was convicted of crimes against humanity, disregarding international regulations, and the recent advancement in Congress of a law for the prescription of crimes against humanity.

The political and social disintegration caused by this conservative and autocratic project has ultimately shattered the already low trust of the population in their representatives. Currently, as a recent poll by IPSOS points out, 91% of the population rejects the performance of the members of Congress, while only 5% approve of the president, marking a historic low approval rating, according to another poll made by DATUM.

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