Fujimori on Trial :: Fujimori procesado

Accountability in Action :: Rindiendo cuentas

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Commentary from US lawyer Munir Pujara

Munir Pujara has been a practicing attorney for nine years, since receiving his J.D. from New York University (NYU) School of Law.  While at NYU, Mr. Pujara received the Roger Baldwin Fellowship in Human Rights and Civil Rights while participating in the Arthur Garfield Hays Program of NYU Law School.   As a practicing lawyer, he worked as a criminal public defender representing indigent adults and youth on the trial and appellate level in New York City in more than 100 cases. He has also worked in areas of civil practice including class action and civil rights litigation.  In addition, he has co-authored human rights reports with “Al-Haq, the West Bank Affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists” and the “European Roma Rights Center” in Budapest. He also prepared memoranda for the Ministry of Agriculture for the Palestinian Authority regarding needs of Palestinian farmers in disputed areas of the West Bank during the time of the Oslo Peace Accords.

 

Nov. 11, 2008 

 The Fujimori trial stands as a singular and polemic approach to transitional justice, with accountability of the former head of state as its cornerstone. Yet, the effectiveness of this effort may ultimately be judged by Peruvians’ perception of the process, as much as by the actual verdict and sentence of Fujimori. Progress towards governmental transparency and accountability may depend largely on public confidence in the legitimacy and efficacy of the trial.  Moreover, as most information about the trial is filtered through the media, the lens through which Peruvians view this trial must also be examined and considered.

With this in mind, volunteers from the Praxis Institute interviewed more than 150 residents of Lima, Peru, in the early fall of 2008.  Questionnaires, as shown below, were used to help gauge, among other things, each participant’s conceptions about the reasons for which Fujimori is being tried, the extent to which a person’s opinion of Fujimori and the criminal justice system of Peru has been affected by the trial, and the ways in which Peruvians believe that the trial might assist national reconciliation.  Significantly, the sources of information which helped people form those opinions were also tracked, together with demographic information of participants.

It is important to note, however, that this study was not a traditional poll or survey; qualitative, as well as quantitative data, was gathered in an attempt to gain a deeper understanding of public opinion about the trial.  Open and closed ended questions were used to allow for a range of candidness, interest, and facility.  Spontaneous comments and new topics introduced by participants were also considered.  Details about instances when individuals declined to engage in a conversation about the Fujimori trial were at times as significant as the conversations themselves.  Moreover, the study bears in mind that the environment in which the study was conducted was not static.  During the course of the interview process, for example, the “Petrogate” scandal involving the exposure of wide-scale corruption in the current government was unfolding and cited by several participants in the study as demonstrative of a perceived governmental resistance to reform.  The study hopes not only to account for such factors, but analyze them, as well.

Consequently, the report, which will be posted on this website, will detail the results of the study and hopes to serve as a composite of Peruvian opinion about the Fujimori trial, while maintaining the depth of individual perspectives.