On May 15, 2009 the National Coordinator of Human Rights sent a letter to Mr. Leandro Despouy, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, in order to bring to his attention how one Colina Group member and various Congressmen of the pro-Fujimori party are affecting the independence of Justices César San Martín, Víctor Prado, and Hugo Príncipe, of the Supreme Court’s Special Criminal Division that convicted former president Alberto Fujimori for the cases of La Cantuta, Barrios Altos and Army Intelligence Service (SIE) basements.
Present concerns include:
a) Constitutional complaint against criminal court justices
On April 23, 2009, Carlos Pichilingue, one of the Colina Group’s members (who were the direct authors of the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta murders) wrote a letter to Congress constitutionally accusing Justices César San Martín, Víctor Prado and Hugo Príncipe. The accusation is in the Commission of Constitutional Accusations, presided over by Martha Moyano, a leader of the pro-Fujimori political faction.
On analyzing the constitutional complaint, we believe that its acceptance would threaten to the independence of the judicial function. The judges strictly acted within national and international laws to issue the sentence.
b) Pro-Fujimori Congress members’ attacks on independence of criminal court justices
Various pro-Fujimori Congress members have expressed opinions that go beyond the limits of their right to freedom of opinion and expression and their right to criticize judicial decisions. In general, they have given opinions that affect the honor and independence of the judges. Congressman Rolando Souza said, “there are no conditions for fair judgment since there are three type of judges that have returned to Judicial Power after 1992: those who pertain to an ideology close to the leftist movements that lectured at universities where the Shining Path and the MRTA [Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement] were concentrated and those who believe that Montesinos organized power to control the Judicial Power during the 1990s.” Meanwhile, Congresswoman Martha Moyano indicates: “[The judges] are fake and cowards. This sentence is a retaliation because the judges were withdrawn from their positions during Fujimori’s government.”
Regarding the declarations of high government officials, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has recently indicated that: “The content of some of the speeches implies an omission of state authority in their duty of prevention due to the high offices held by those that gave and reiterated them. Therefore, groups and individuals and groups could interpret this in a way that may unleash violence against the presumed victims and hinder journalist reports.”
This same criteria that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights qualified as a disturbance to journalistic reports can also be applied, mutatis mutandis, to the work that a Judicial Power carries out in a democratic state.
c) Approval of bill affecting independence of justices as apparent retaliation for sentence issued by Court
April 7, 2009, the same day that the sentence was issued, a modification to the Judicial Career Act (law no. 29277) was approved. The modification prohibits judges from opining or making declarations on judicial trials in the media. As reported by various media sources, this represents a retaliation against the sentence issued by the Court that condemned Alberto Fujimori.
At the moment, the Public Minister has filed a claim of unconstitutionality against this law, which has been officially admitted by the Peruvian Constitutional Court.
In regards to this issue and in order to reaffirm the necessity of justices’ independence for the guarantees of due process — as international bodies that the Peruvian state subscribes to unanimously recognize — the National Coordinator of Human Rights has requested that the UN Special Rapporteur to take the necessary actions in order to guarantee the independence of the members of the Supreme Court’s Special Criminal Court, and in particular to consider a visit to Peru.
Lima – May 2009
National Coordinator of Human Rights