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Peru continues to violate human rights as part of central government policy. Recently there has been a strong decline in the numbers of extrajudicial executions and disappearances committed in the course of government counterinsurgency operations in the country. However, torture, both of persons detained on suspicion of terrorist activities and in ordinary criminal cases, remains a basic concern.

Peru's intelligence services, particularly the National Intelligence Service and the Army's Intelligence Service, have been responsible for serious abuses in recent years, including torture, kidnappings and intimidation, arbitrary arrest, wiretapping, and attacks on freedom of expression. For example, in 1996 and 1997, the Frecuencia Latina television channel had denounced government corruption, as well as eavesdropping and human rights violations by military intelligence. The government expropriated the owner of Frecuencia Latina in September 1997. Further, the government has tried to weaken Peru's constitutional mechanisms to protect human rights, including the office of the Attorney General and aspects of the judicial system. The government's failure to make even minimal progress in the rule of the law forced the World Bank in March 1997 to suspend a justice system-related grant to the government.

"The Peruvian judiciary must be independent," said José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas Division of Human Rights Watch. "Curtailing its powers and limiting its independence threatens the rule of law -- and human rights in general -- in Peru."

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