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The Role of the International Community

The Organization of American States, the European Community, the European Parliament, and individual states, including the United States, Canada, Japan, and several European countries, issued statements expressing concern about irregularities in Peru's elections.

Organization of American States

The OAS electoral observation mission led by former Guatemalan foreign affairs minister Eduardo Stein conducted a forthright, transparent, and proactive observation of the electoral process. Unlike earlier OAS missions, whose shortcomings had been widely criticized, Stein's team covered pre-electoral conditions for a full month before the April 9 vote, met continuously with the electoral bodies in an effort to obtain fairer conditions, and reported publicly on progress in periodic bulletins. The mission served as a model for future regional election observation.

An extraordinary session of the Permanent Council, held in Washington, D.C. on May 31, rejected a proposal by the United States and Costa Rica for an ad hoc meeting of foreign ministers under Resolution 1080-regarding the OAS's response to the interruption of democracy in member countries-to discuss sanctions against Peru. The vote against the motion showed that most member states opposed taking punitive measures against another member state because of an unfair election, so revealing the limits of the OAS's effectiveness in responding to interruptions of the democratic process that fall short of a coup d'etat.

The political situation in Peru was discussed intensely at the annual General Assembly of the OAS. On June 5, the General Assembly agreed unanimously to send immediately a high-level mission to Peru, consisting of OAS Secretary General César Gaviria and Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy, to explore options for reforming the electoral process, restoring the independence of the judiciary, and strengthening freedom of the press. Reflecting the reluctance of the General Assembly to confront the illegitimacy of the election, both delegates made clear on their arrival in Lima on June 27 that they did not intend to propose a timetable for new elections. The mission left two days later, having agreed with the government and opposition a list of twenty-nine reforms to be implemented. The OAS established a permanent mission in Lima, headed by Eduardo Latorre, former foreign minister of the Dominican Republic, to broker the reforms and assist in their implementation. The September bribery scandal, however, abruptly changed the picture. Following President Fujimori's surprise announcement of new presidential and congressional elections, OAS-sponsored talks between the government and the opposition led to an agreement at the end of October to hold the elections by April 8, 2001.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights's Second Report on Human Rights in Peru, published in June, noted that "the electoral process in Peru clearly constitutes an irregular interruption of the democratic process," and called for new elections.

United Nations

In November 1999, the United Nations Committee against Torture published its concluding observations on the report submitted by Peru under article 19 of the Convention against Torture. It expressed concern about continuing allegations of torture, the authorities' failure to investigate and prosecute those responsible, and the lack of independence of members of the judiciary who lacked security of tenure. In January 2000, the Committee on the Rights of the Child published its conclusions on Peru's report under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It regarded laws enacted to protect children from domestic and sexual violence as positive steps. However, it criticized decree laws passed in 1998 that lower the age of criminal responsibility for children to below the limits permitted in the convention.

United States

The Clinton Administration played a key behind-the-scenes role in the negotiations at the meeting of the OAS General Assembly that resulted in the Gaviria-Axworthy mission. But the decision to send a mission was a weaker response than expected, given the strong nature of the first White House and State Department reactions to the May 28 election result. "Free, fair, and open elections are the foundations of a democratic society. Without them, our relationship with Peru will inevitably be affected," President Clinton warned, while a State Department spokeswoman stated, "we do not see the election as being valid. The manner in which the Fujimori regime handled these problems is a serious threat to the Inter-American system and its commitment to democracy." In Congress, both Democrats and Republicans backed firm action if Fujimori continued to defy international opinion. On April 7, Congress passed Joint Resolution 43, which warned that if the international community judged the elections not to be free and fair, "the United States will review and modify as appropriate its political, economic, and military relations with Peru and will work with other democracies in this hemisphere and elsewhere toward a restoration of democracy in Peru."After the unwillingness of other OAS members to support the U.S. proposal to apply Resolution 1080, however, the Clinton Administration did not persist.

On March 9, U.S. officials detained Maj. Tomás Ricardo Anderson Kohatsu, a Peruvian army intelligence agent implicated in gross human rights violations. After a lightning operation by U.S.-based human rights groups to gather evidence, immigration officials arrested Anderson at Houston airport before he could board a flight back to Lima. Overwhelming evidence implicated Anderson in the torture in 1997 of Leonor La Rosa Bustamante, a former intelligence agent who was left paraplegic as a result of the torture. The Department of Justice was preparing to prosecute Anderson under the Torture Act 18 USC 2340A, that allows for the extraterritorial prosecution of individuals implicated in torture. However, in a regrettable decision, the Department of State blocked the arrest, claiming that Anderson enjoyed immunity because he had been brought to the U.S. by the government of Peru to participate in a hearing before the OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Anderson was released and allowed to leave the U.S. after being held for questioning for twelve hours.

European Union

The European Union (E.U.) withdrew its election observers from Peru after the JNE announced that it would not accept recommendations for a postponement. The E.U. stated that the elections would not be credible or satisfy international standards, and that acceptance of democratic principles was a pre-condition for the development of its political and economic ties with Peru.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2000

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