Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings
After taking office on July 28, the Kuczynski administration launched an investigation into allegations that members of the Peruvian National Police (PNP) committed the extrajudicial killings of more than 20 criminal suspects from 2012 to 2015 as part of a scheme to receive awards and promotions. These allegations first surfaced in August. According to press and Ministry of Interior accounts, an “irregular” group of nine PNP officers and sub-officers allegedly paid informants to entrap individuals and provide regular police units with false intelligence, setting the stage for deadly confrontations. As of November, the government had produced no evidence that policy-level officials directed the alleged killings or had knowledge of the scheme.
On September 1, a special tribunal found 10 former army officers and enlisted persons guilty of killing 71 villagers, including 23 children, in the 1985 “Accomarca Massacre” that occurred during the conflict with the Shining Path terrorist group. The tribunal sentenced five officers to prison terms ranging from 23 to 25 years, including general Wilfredo Mori, lieutenant colonels Nelson Gonzalez Feria and Carlos Pastor Delgado Medina, and lieutenants Juan Rivera Rondon and Telmo Hurtado. Five low-ranking soldiers also received 10-year sentences. The tribunal acquitted six others, including general Jose Williams Zapata, for lack of sufficient evidence.
The Shining Path conducted several terrorist acts during the year that resulted in deaths and injuries (see section 1.g.), including an April 9 attack on army officers carrying electoral materials the day before the first round of national elections.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances during the year. The government, however, continued to address disappearances that occurred during the internal conflict of 1980-2000. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimated that more than 15,000 persons disappeared during this period.
The government approved a new law in July that requires the Ministry of Justice to oversee the recovery, identification, and return of the approximately 15,000 “disappeared” human remains from the internal conflict as a humanitarian priority. The law requires the government to simultaneously collect evidence and proceed with criminal investigations.
On September 27, a court found Vladimiro Montesinos, the intelligence chief and chief advisor to former president Alberto Fujimori, guilty of the disappearance and murder of two students and one professor in 1993. Both Fujimori and Montesinos were already serving 25-year prison sentences for human rights abuses. By law the decision did not add additional time to Montesinos’ prison sentence.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits such practices. Local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), however, reported that torture remained a problem, primarily within the police force and stated the government did not effectively prevent and punish those who committed such abuses.
According to the local NGO Human Rights Commission, many victims did not file formal complaints about their alleged torture, and those who did so purportedly had difficulty obtaining judicial redress and adequate compensation.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions remained harsh for most of the country’s inmates, due to overcrowding, poor sanitation, inadequate nutrition and health care, and corruption among guards, which included guards smuggling weapons and drugs into the prisons. Guards received little to no training or supervision.
Physical Conditions: As of June the National Penitentiary Institute (INPE) reported that the national penitentiary system had 77,086 prisoners in 67 facilities originally designed for 32,890 prisoners. On July 10, the government opened a new prison in Cochamarca, which was built to hold 1,300 prisoners. As of January, the San Juan de Lurigancho men’s prison held 9,958 prisoners in a facility designed for 3,204. The Sarita Colonia prison in the Callao Region had a designed capacity of 572 persons but held 3,296 in January. Prisons for women also were overcrowded. The Santa Monica women’s prison in Chorrillos was designed for 450 inmates but held 823.
INPE operated 31 of the 68 active prisons, the PNP had jurisdiction over five, the PNP and INPE operated 31 prisons jointly, and INPE and the army jointly operated one prison. The judicial system used pretrial detention centers located at police stations, judiciary buildings, and the Palace of Justice to hold pretrial detainees temporarily.
Prison guards and fellow inmates reportedly abused prisoners, and inmates killed fellow inmates during the year. Inmates had intermittent access to potable water, bathing facilities were inadequate, kitchen facilities were unhygienic, and prisoners often slept in hallways and common areas for lack of cell space. Prisoners with money had access to cell phones, illegal drugs, and meals prepared outside the prison; prisoners who lacked funds experienced much more difficult conditions.
Most prisons provided access to basic medical care, but there was a shortage of doctors, and inmates complained of having to pay for medical attention. Tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS reportedly remained at near-epidemic levels. The Ombudsman’s Office continued to report the incidence of tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS infections were significantly higher in prisons than in the general population. The Ombudsman’s Office also reported insufficient accessibility and inadequate facilities for prisoners with disabilities. Prisons lacked specialized medical equipment needed for prisoners with disabilities, such as wheelchairs and transferrable beds. Low accessibility to adequate psychological care for prisoners with mental disabilities was also reported.
Administration: Independent and government authorities investigated allegations of mistreatment in prisons and made the results of their investigations public.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring visits by independent human rights and international humanitarian law observers. Between January and October, International Committee of the Red Cross officials made 12 unannounced visits to inmates in 12 different prisons and detention centers and individually monitored approximately 95 individual prisoners. During the year, the Ombudsman’s Office representatives made 150 visits to Lima and provincial prisons and 30 visits to juvenile detention centers.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions. The government constitutionally suspended the right to freedom from arrest without warrant in designated emergency zones (see section 1.g.).
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
The PNP, with a force of approximately 114,830 personnel, is responsible for all areas of law enforcement and internal security, including migration and border security. The PNP functioned under the authority of the Ministry of Interior. The armed forces, with approximately 100,000 personnel, are responsible for external security under the authority of the Ministry of Defense but also have limited domestic security responsibilities, particularly in the Valley of the Apurimac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers (VRAEM) emergency zone.
Corruption and a high rate of acquittals in civilian courts for military personnel accused of crimes remained serious problems. The Public Ministry conducted investigations, although access to evidence held by the Ministry of Defense was not always forthcoming. The Ombudsman’s Office can also investigate cases and submit conclusions to the Public Ministry for follow-up. The Ministries of Interior and Defense employed internal mechanisms to investigate allegations of security force abuse. The Ministry of Interior’s Office of Inspector General reported that it disciplined approximately 7,400 police officers from January to August.
The Public Ministry is charged with witness protection responsibilities but lacked resources to provide sufficient training to prosecutors and police officers, conceal identities, or furnish logistical support to witnesses.
Police continued operating under a use of force doctrine adopted in 2015. When a police action causes death or injury, the law requires an administrative investigation and notification to the appropriate oversight authorities. The law is applicable to all police force members and defines the principles, rules, situations, and limitations for police use of force and firearms.
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
The law permits police to detain persons for investigations. The law requires a written judicial warrant based on sufficient evidence for an arrest, unless authorities apprehend the alleged perpetrator of a crime in the act. Only judges may authorize detentions. Authorities are required to arraign arrested persons within 24 hours, except in cases of terrorism, drug trafficking, or espionage, for which arraignment must take place within 15 days. In remote areas, arraignment must take place as soon as practicably possible. Military authorities must turn over persons they detain to police within 24 hours. The law requires police to file a report with the Public Ministry within 24 hours after an arrest. The Public Ministry, in turn, must issue its own assessment of the legality of the police action in the arrest, and authorities respected this requirement.
Judges have 24 hours to decide whether to release a suspect or continue detention, and the judiciary respected this provision. A functioning bail system exists, but many poor defendants lack the means to post bail. By law detainees are allowed access to family members and a lawyer of their choice. Police may detain suspected terrorists incommunicado for 10 days.
Pretrial Detention: Lengthy pretrial detention continued to be a problem. In January authorities had sentenced only 38,198 of the 77,298 detainees held in detention facilities and prisons. Delays were due mainly to judicial inefficiency, corruption, and staff shortages. Under the criminal procedure code, the law requires the release of prisoners held more than nine months whom the justice system has not tried and sentenced; the period is 18 months for complex cases. In one prominent case, a judge released regional Governor Gregorio Santos, who was accused of corruption, from prison on July 27 after 23 months of pretrial imprisonment. During this time Santos was allowed to participate as a candidate in regional (2014) and national (2016) elections.
Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: Persons arrested or detained, regardless of whether on criminal or other grounds, are entitled to challenge in court the legal basis or arbitrary nature of their detention and obtain prompt release and compensation if found to have been unlawfully detained.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary. NGOs and other advocates alleged the judiciary often did not operate independently, was not consistently impartial, and was subject to political influence and corruption. Authorities generally respected court orders from the judiciary.
The law provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and the judiciary generally enforced this right, although reports of corruption in the judicial system were common. The government continued the implementation, begun in 2006, of a criminal procedure code designed to streamline the penal process. As of October, the government had introduced the code in 28 of the 31 judicial districts, although implementation in the largest judicial districts–Lima and Callao–remained pending. The code requires public hearings for each case and assigns investigative responsibility to public prosecutors and police.
The law presumes all defendants innocent. The government also must promptly inform defendants in detail of the charges against them and provide defendants a fair and public trail without undue delay. Defendants also have the right to communicate with an attorney of their choice or have one provided at public expense; however, state-provided attorneys often have poor training. Although the law grants citizens the right to trial in their own language, language services for non-Spanish speakers were sometimes unavailable. This deficiency primarily affected indigenous people living in the highlands and Amazon Regions. In a case from 2015, however, a court in Puno issued its decision in the Aymara indigenous language, which is prevalent in the region. As of October, the decision was on appeal to a court in Lima, and any additional court findings would use Aymara. The law also gives all defendants the right to adequate time and facilities to prepare for their defense.
Defendants generally had access to government-held evidence related to their cases. Exceptions reportedly occurred in some human rights abuse cases from the 1980-2000 period. In many of these cases, the government classified related documents as secret and subject to disclosure limitations under the law. Defendants have the right to confront adverse witnesses and present their own witnesses and evidence. The government cannot compel defendants to testify or confess to a crime. Defendants may appeal verdicts to a superior court and ultimately to the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Tribunal may rule on cases involving issues such as habeas corpus or the constitutionality of laws.
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees during the year.
CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES
Citizens may seek civil remedies for human rights violations, but court cases often take years to resolve. Press reports, NGOs, and other sources continued to allege that persons outside the judiciary frequently corrupted or influenced judges.
f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The law prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions. The government’s declaration of emergency zones in the VRAEM and Callao Region, due to drug trafficking and criminal activity, suspended the right to home inviolability.