With the recent shuffles in Peru’s cabinet, Sofía Macher, head of the national Reparations Council, has asked new cabinet chief Javier Velásquez Quesquén to prioritize reparations to victims of the 1980-2000 internal armed conflict. Velásquez Quesquén, formerly the President of Congress, was appointed on July 11, 2009, and will head the Council of Ministers that administers the Reparations Council.
Macher, who served as one of the commissioners of Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, told press that the Reparations Council does not have the budget necessary to fulfill basic functions, causing delays in the reparations process. Furthermore, the commission in charge of determining the amounts to be granted to victims has not yet been formed, even though it was scheduled to start operations in January 2009.
According to the law creating the Integral Reparations Program, family members of perished or disappeared persons are to be considered victims. Macher estimates that some 280,000 Peruvians should be included in the official victim registry, referred to as the Registro Único de Víctimas. However, to date, only 47,262 people have been registered and some 45,000 requests are in line to be processed.
Though there are delays in individual and economic reparations, the government has made some headway in collective reparations. For example, in September of 2008, the district of Cayara, one of the areas in the Ayacucho department hardest hit by the violent internal conflict, received an irrigation system in order to further the communities’ farming endeavors. Cayara, populated by some 140 families (approximately 700 people), registered 84 deaths and 13 disappeared between 1980 and 1995. The community collectively decided on the irrigation project, which aims to rebuild the economic productivity after the violence.
Additionally, the victims of the La Cantuta and Barrios Altos murders and their relatives have already been granted reparations through cases they presented to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights as well as the human rights trial former president Alberto Fujimori faced in Peru. Peru’s Special Criminal Court of the Supreme Court ruled on April 7, 2009 that Fujimori must pay US $20,800 to surviving victims and $20,000 to the relatives of murdered victims since judges found him guilty of command responsibility for the death squad that carried out the murders.
However, without the amounts established for state-issued individual reparations, Macher said that the process will now be delayed until 2011. “There is no excuse for this commission to not have been formed,” the Reparations Council president told local press. Though the Council has sufficient budget up to October of this year, Macher said she is unsure if they will make it to December.