Peru- State Dept: Introduction

Chris, London 100423.2040 at
Wed Apr 3 16:34:58 MST 1996

/* Written  8:56 AM  Mar 25, 1996 by igc:wola in gn:ppn.peru */
/* ---------- "State Dept HR Report Peru 1995" ---------- */
Title:  Peru Human Rights Practices, 1995
Author:  U.S. Department of State
Date:  March 1996


  Peru is a multiparty republic with a dominant executive branch headed by
President Alberto Fujimori.  Fujimori was reelected to a second 5-year
term in free and fair elections on April 9 under provisions of a new
Constitution enacted in 1993.  The President's party also won control of
the new Congress and holds 67 of its 120 seats.
 The police and military share security duties.  Since 1980 much of their
effort has been directed against Sendero Luminoso and other terrorist
groups.  These groups have now declined as a major internal threat, and
terrorist attacks took place with less frequency than in previous years.
Although members of the security forces committed human rights abuses,
levels were lower than in previous years.  The Sendero Luminoso and
other terrorists were responsible for numerous killings.
 Peru's economy is rapidly changing its emphasis from heavy regulation to
an extreme market orientation.  Government controls on capital flows,
prices, and trade have been eliminated.  The Government has privatized
most state enterprises, and those remaining are scheduled to be sold by
the end of 1996.  The current gross domestic product is estimated at
$32.5 billion.  Major exports include minerals (principally copper),
fishmeal, and textiles.  Illegal exports of processed coca are thought
to have earned about $600-$800 million in past years.  As in 1994, Peru
was projected to report a favorable balance of payments in 1995 due to
continued large capital inflows of direct and portfolio investments
despite the growing trade deficit.  Unemployment is around 9 percent,
but more than half of the economically active population work in the
informal sector of the economy, which largely operates beyond government
supervision and taxation.  The percentage of the population officially
defined as poor declined from over 50 percent to about 45 percent.
Roughly half of the poor live in extreme poverty.
 As government counterinsurgency policies became increasingly effective
and the threat from Sendero Luminoso declined, the human rights
situation continued to improve.  There was a marked decrease in the
number of extrajudicial killings and disappearances attributable to the
security forces.  Despite this improvement, lack of accountability and
due process, prolonged detention, trial delays, and torture remained
problems; emergency zone status--which provides for the suspension of
certain constitutional guarantees in areas of high terrorist activity--
remained in effect in Lima and several other provinces, affecting 44
percent of Peru's 23.5 million people.  Congressional passage of the
Amnesty Law on June 14 absolved those in the security forces who
committed human rights abuses while combating terrorism from May 1980 to
June 1995.  The summary manner in which this and other laws were passed,
without full notice and debate in the country's unicameral Parliament,
revived concerns about an authoritarian approach to governance.  In
October a Supreme Court tribunal upheld the constitutionality of the
Amnesty Law in the 1991 Barrios Altos massacre case.
 The Government continued to detain up to 600 persons on terrorism
charges based on unsubstantiated accusations by terrorists who repented
before November 1, 1994; many of these detainees have already been held
for years with their cases unresolved.  Nongovernmental human rights
organizations represent approximately 700 individuals believed to have
been wrongfully charged with terrorism and treason.  Civilian terrorism
trials by "faceless" judges were due to end on October 15, but Congress
passed new legislation in early October extending their use for 1 more
year.  The Government continued efforts to improve prison conditions,
but these remain inadequate.  The Congress passed a law in July defining
the duties of the constitutionally mandated "Defender of the People" (a
human rights ombudsman).  However, it has not yet named someone to the
position.  Violence against women and children and discrimination
against minorities and the disabled are problems.

 Sendero Luminoso and members of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement
(MRTA) were responsible for 232 killings, including 7 deaths from car
bomb attacks.

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