Peru: Growing authoritarianism and erosion of rights

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Ernesto Benavides / AFP

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisations in Peru, APRODEH, Perú-Equidad and CEDAL, have released today an information and analysis note denouncing an accelerated attempt by the Peruvian Congress to capture the other branches of the state and to reverse social, democratic and civic gains in the field of human rights. This takes place in the context of the democratic crisis gripping the country, which, far from being merely a product of the current circumstances, is the result of a conservative, authoritarian political and ideological project that has been destabilising state institutions over the last year.

Paris, Lima, 13 July 2023. The political crisis triggered in 2016 by the destabilising campaign launched by the parliamentary majority of the Fuerza Popular party, under the leadership of Keiko Fujimori, resulted in a staggering succession of six presidents in just seven years. In December 2022, after Pedro Castillo’s failed coup d’état, Vice-President Dina Boluarte took over the presidency. In response to the refusal to call early elections, protests were held in several parts of the country, resulting in 67 deaths, 49 of them due to disproportionate repression in the context of the demonstrations, some of which have already been classified as extrajudicial executions.

“In the last year, the Constitutional Court and the Ombudsperson’s Office have been captured, with the support of an extremely unpopular, conservative and authoritarian parliamentary majority”, said Gloria Cano, Secretary General of FIDH and Director of APRODEH-Peru. “Individuals with inadequate academic and legal qualifications have been appointed through highly questionable processes, undermining the independence and autonomy of these institutions. We need only point to the disastrous ruling of the Constitutional Court that upsets the balance between Congress and the judiciary. The threats of capture hanging over the National Electoral Board and the National Justice Board are of serious concern.”

Our organisations conclude that this autocratic turn, orchestrated by ultra-conservative parties allied with the Boluarte government, is part of a programme to roll back gains in the area of human rights. In addition, the recent Supreme Court decision which criminalises social protest by ruling that it does not constitute a fundamental right, represents a dangerous judicial precedent.

Javier Mujica, from Perú-Equidad, said, “efforts by Congress to reverse sexual and reproductive rights, the gender approach, and collective labour rights, as well as to denounce the American Convention on Human Rights, are extremely worrying.”

“In anticipation of the massive demonstrations planned for the coming days, we call on the State to guarantee the conditions for the exercise of the right to social protest and to listen to the demands of the population, who are weary of exclusion, repression and corruption”, said Luis Miguel Sirumbal, Director of CEDAL, Peru.

FIDH’s member organisations urge the Peruvian State to follow up on the demand of the majority of citizens to hold general elections as soon as possible and, in particular, to guarantee the autonomy and independence of all branches of the State, especially the electoral authorities and the administration of justice. They also call for the investigation and prosecution of serious human rights violations and possible extrajudicial executions.

FIDH and its member organisations call on the international community to establish an international monitoring mechanism on the crisis in Peru to promote dialogue between the various actors. Finally, they call for any trade agreements with Peru, and in particular its accession to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to be made conditional on full respect for democratic guarantees and human rights.

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