Fujimori on Trial :: Fujimori procesado

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-CONTEXT- New attempts for amnesty

November 18th, 2008 · No Comments

(Foto: Praxis)

On Monday, Oct. 20, Congressman Edgar Núñez from the ruling APRA party presented a bill that would grant amnesty to military and police officials who face human rights trials for having followed orders during the 1980-2000 internal armed conflict in Peru. If passed, the cases of some 3,000 armed forces officials who are currently undergoing trials or who have been sentenced would be reviewed, of which an estimated 600 would benefit. (Radio Nacional)

Núñez, president of Congress’ Defense Commission, claimed the bill seeks to protect the “human rights” of military officials. According to Núñez, in the latest narco-terrorist attack in Huancavelica, young soldiers died due to their superiors’ fear that a terrorist death would land them a trial for violating human rights. “Those who saved us from terrorism are Peruvian soldiers,” he said. (RPP)

The bill also seeks amnesty for the military command responsible for the “Chavín de Huántar” rescue in 1997 that freed hostages from the Japanese ambassador’s residence while it was being held by members of subversive group Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA).

The issue of whether there were human rights violations during the rescue has been hotly debated, especially since some hostages later testified that subversive group members were killed after having surrendered.

Furthermore, Miguel Jugo, director of Association Pro Human Rights (APRODEH), claimed that only three military officials are being tried for Chavín de Huántar operation, not 142 like Núñez claimed. This includes Vladimiro Montesinos and Nicolás de Bari Hermoza Ríos — both right hand men of former President Fujimori. (La República)

After the amnesty bill, another APRA member of Congress, Mercedes Cabanillas, presented a separate bill proposing pardons for armed forces officials. The bill consists in creating a commission to investigate each case individually and present them to President Alan García to approve. Local newspaper El Comercio reported that this mechanism is similar to one that former President Alberto Fujimori was obligated to set up in 1996 after significant international pressure to release the numerous innocent people who had been unjustly imprisoned through questionable trials that did not follow due process under his anti-terrorism legislations. (El Comercio)

Both proposals have provoked great anxiety among the human rights community, which expressed fervent resistance. Rights lawyer Carlos Rivera announced on a local radio program that this might be a first step toward guaranteeing amnesty for Fujimori, who is facing a possible 30-year prison sentence if convicted in his current trial for human rights violations.

Paz also speculated that this may be a sign of reconciliation that the APRA is sending to the pro-Fujimori party after naming Yehude Simon as the new prime minister. Simon spent eight years in prison for alleged ties to terrorism during Fujimori’s presidency, but was given a pardon through the mechanism set up to free those who were unjustly imprisoned. Simon was released from prison in 2000 during President Valentín Paniagua’s interim government. (La República)

President Alan García has expressed support for the bill in a public statement, arguing that it responds to longtime persecution against the armed forces.

Debates over the bill’s legality have also surfaced. On a local radio station, Defense Minister Ántero Flores-Aráoz stated, “Amnesty is in the constitution and is therefore constitutional. Don’t tell me what’s in the constitution is unconstitutional, because it’s there.” (Andina)

In 2001, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, signed onto by Peru, rejected an amnesty law passed by former President Fujimori in 1994 in the Barrios Altos case.  The amnesties were withdrawn and new trials were initiated. The Inter-American Court’s ruling has since been recognized by the Peruvian Constitutional Court and other national criminal courts.

“Consequently, what comes first?” asked Flores-Aráoz. “An international agreement or the constitution that is above all else? It’s a debatable issue.” (Andina)

What would the proposed norm mean for Fujimori’s current human rights trial? Would amnesty be given to former Colina group agents? What does President García’s support for the bill imply?