Socio-political crisis of Peru and excessive use of force during demonstrations at heart of dialogue with the Committee

Published on 20 Mar 2023, 08:00 PM

Human Rights Committee reviewed Peru on March 3, 6, and 7, 2023

The delegation of Peru intervening at the Human Rights Committee from Lima.

On 3, 6, and 7 March 2023, the Human Rights Committee reviewed the sixth periodic report of Peru with the State delegation. The dialogue had three parts and took place in a hybrid form, with part of the delegation in Geneva and another part in Lima.

The delegation was headed by the Minister of Justice and Human Rights, José Tello. He mentioned the political crisis the country is going through since the destitution of President Pedro Castillo on 7 December 2022, and he recognized the socioeconomic vulnerability of the families of those deceased and wounded during the protests.

During the dialogue, the most salient topics were the criminal process against Pedro Castillo, the excessive use of armed force during demonstrations, and the serious human rights violations of the recent past.

Criminal process against ex-president Pedro Castillo

During the dialogue, Pedro Castillo and the political and constitutional crisis that followed his destitution were continuously brought up. The Committee asked about the criminal process against Castillo, currently detained, and whether his due process rights were being respected. Particularly, the exceptional nature of his pre-trial detention, the independence, impartiality, and transparency of the tribunal judging him, and the right of the accused to be tried within a reasonable time without undue delay.

To this, the delegation mentioned that Castillo was preventively detained in full respect with his due process rights. Also, they said that Castillo was visited in prison by the Ombudsman and the Inter American Commission for Human Rights, who confirmed the humanitarian conditions of his detention.

State of emergency and excessive use of armed force during demonstrations


The Committee asked about the current state of emergency and the role of the armed forces in it. Two examples given were the police raids at Confederación Campesina del Perú (CCP) and Universidad Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM), where force was used indiscriminately. The Committee asked whether investigations had been opened in such cases of deaths and serious injuries against protesters. Nevertheless, the excessive use of force was already an issue of concern to the Committee before the current crisis broke. The Committee received an individual communication about it in 2019 and found a violation during the 134th session in March 2022.

In response, the delegation said that the state of emergency was in line with the Constitution and the ICCPR, and restricted to regions with conflict and violence. Moreover, they are conducting investigations into the deaths of all the deceased protestors to determine individual criminal responsibility. Regarding the events of Universidad Mayor de San Marcos, there is a Prosecutor's file in the preliminary investigation stage.

Serious human rights violations of the recent past

Another issue raised was the lingering criminal impunity for serious human rights violations committed during the 1980-2000 period. The Committee asked about cases of torture, enforced disappearances, the truth commission, and the implementation of the missing persons search plan. The massive and forced sterilizations of 217,000 indigenous women between 1995-2001 to reduce natality in the poorest sectors of society were also mentioned. 

In response, the delegation said that since 2003 they have specialized human rights prosecutors, judges and tribunals to investigate such cases. Moreover, the Public Prosecutor's Office has two investigations related to cases of forced sterilization, which are difficult due to the high number of victims and perpetrators involved. The State also created registries of victims and provides legal assistance, psychological support, and comprehensive health care to them.

Watch again the dialogue with the Committee here (part one), here (part two), and here (part three). 

Recommendations of the Human Rights Committee

Concluding Observations on Peru sixth periodic report were released on March 24, 2023. The State party is requested to provide, by 24 March 2026, information on the implementation of the following recommendations:

Use of force in the context of demonstrations

Taking into account the Committee's general comment No. 37 (2020) on the right to peaceful assembly, and the Committee's general comment No. 36 (2018) on the right to life, the State party should take measures to effectively prevent and eliminate all forms of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, in particular in the context of peaceful assemblies. In this regard, the State party should:

  • (a) Urgently review Laws Nos. 30151 (2014) and No. 31012 (2020) and bring the legislative framework into line with the Covenant and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials;
  • (b) Ensure that alleged human rights violations that may have been committed in the context of demonstrations, including those that may have taken place in the context of social protests since 7 December 2022, are investigated promptly and thoroughly, impartially and effectively;
  • (c) Adopt measures to protect investigations of human rights violations against impunity, and ensure that the alleged perpetrators are brought before the judicial body predetermined by law that must offer full guarantees of independence and impartiality and that those materially and intellectually responsible are adequately punished, and that the victims receive full reparation, including in the form of compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition;
  • (d) Continue to take measures to effectively prevent and eliminate the excessive use of force by agents of the security forces, including the Armed Forces, especially in the context of demonstrations, including by intensifying the education and training of all agents deployed for the control of demonstrations.

Right to participate in public affairs and the right to a fair trial

The State party should:

  • (a) Ensure that the presidential vacancy process is always conducted in full compliance with the basic principles of due process and fair trial, and with full respect for article 25 of the Covenant including, if necessary, through the corresponding legislative reform, including constitutional reform, so as to guarantee an adequate system of counterpowers among the various branches of government;
  • (b) Ensure that the criminal proceedings against Mr. Pedro Castillo, currently in pretrial detention, are conducted in full compliance with the guarantees of the right to a fair trial as recognized in article 14 of the Covenant.

Minority rights and rights of indigenous communities

The State party should redouble its efforts to guarantee the promotion, protection and recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples, particularly with respect to land, territory and natural resources, both in law and in practice. Likewise, it should:

  • (a) Strengthen and guarantee the effectiveness and systematic application of the participation and/or consultation processes necessary to obtain free, prior and informed consent, ensuring equitable dialogue and compliance with the agreements reached with the State and public and private companies;
  • (b) Review the current regulations on indigenous peoples' and communities' lands to ensure their possession, ownership and/or use within the framework of the international conventions ratified by the country;
  • (c) Improve the provision of essential public services, especially access to health facilities, goods and services, in indigenous territories and address the problem of contamination of the affected territories;
  • (d) Adopt measures to combat illegal economies, especially in the Peruvian Amazon, and implement measures to protect indigenous leaders, ensuring access to effective reparations for all members of indigenous groups in case of violation of their rights;
  • (e) Adopt all necessary measures to ensure that the National Policy for the Afro-Peruvian People by 2030 produces real progress in the protection and recognition of the rights of this community.

Here you can find all the recommendations given by the Committee in the Concluding Observations.

The follow-up report of Peru on the implementation of the recommendations is due in 2026. The next list of issues will be adopted in 2029, and the next periodic report is due in 2030.

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