Justice opportunity in the fight against impunity for sexual violence crimes committed during the armed conflict

Press release
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FIDH, and its member organizations CAJ and CELS in Argentina, CODEPU in Chile and CALDH in Guatemala, filed an Amicus Curiae in the "Chumbivilcas" trial before the National Criminal Court of Lima, Peru. The Court admitted the amicus brief for examination yesterday.

The Chumbivilcas case is emblematic: it is the first trial about the rape of indigenous women by the army during Peru’s internal armed conflict, which took place from 1980 to 2000.

The signatory organizations explain in the amicus brief the evolution of Argentine and international criminal jurisprudence that considersrape as a specific crime that may constitute a crime against humanity, as well as the possibility of prosecuting not only the direct physical perpetrators, but also the intellectual authors behind these crimes.

Two women living in the highlands of Chumbivilcas (Cusco) were raped by members of the Peruvian Army during a patrol conducted from 19 to 31 April 1990. The officials were stationed on the Antabamba Army Base (Apurimac). In this case, Peruvian judges have the chance to not allow sexual violence against indigenous women in the area to go unpunished. The Peruvian justice system also has in hand all the legal arguments necessary to analyze the criminal responsibility of the intellectual authors of these crimes, who enabled their commission as well as the impunity of the physical perpetrators.

"It is essential that Peruvian law include in its analysis not only the jurisprudence of international criminal and human rights law, but also regional jurisprudence and case law from other countries, such as Argentina, that have made important advances in the investigation and prosecution of sexual crimes as crimes against humanity" , the organizations said. "Rape in situations of armed conflict must never go unpunished", they added.

The Chumbivilcas case is part of the on-going fight against impunity for serious human rights violations and international crimes committed during the armed conflict in Peru. State security forces committed systematic violations againts civilian against populations in rural and remote areas of the country, often in inaccessible places where adequate protection from state institutions, including access to justice, is limited or even prevented.

The decisions rendered by the Interamerican Court of Human Rights in the "Barrios Altos" (2001) and "La Cantuta" (2006) cases were critical milestones that allowed national courts to prosecute and convict former President Alberto Fujimori to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity, among others. Other senior officers are currently on trial. However, there are many cases reported that still await justice.

Our organizations hope that the Peruvian justice system advances in the fight against impunity for serious violations of human rights, as well as the prevention of human rights violations and the full implementation of victims’ rights. This will contribute to strengthening the rule of law and the establishment of a more just society.

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