(Washington, DC) - Human Rights Watch welcomed the Peruvian Congress's decision to lift the constitutional immunity of former President Alberto K. Fujimori. The 75-0 vote held Monday opens the door for Fujimori to be prosecuted for "disappearances" and politically motivated killings committed during his ten-year rule. Fujimori currently resides in Japan, where he is protected from extradition.

"Because of the seriousness of the crimes of which Fujimori is accused, the vote will create enormous pressure for the Japanese government to allow the case to go forward," said José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch. "If the Japanese resist extraditing him, then they should consider prosecuting him in their own courts."

Fujimori had been indicted for crimes relating to the Colina group, a death squad headed up by the former president's intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. The Colina group was responsible for the 1991 massacre of fifteen people at a Lima tenement fund-raiser and the kidnapping and murder of nine students and one professor at La Cantuta University in 1992.

After leaving Peru in November 2000 in the midst of a political corruption scandal, Fujimori went to Japan where he was granted citizenship. Japan does not extradite Japanese citizens for crimes committed in other countries.

"If Japan wants to demonstrate its commitment to human rights and international principles of justice, then it has to show it will not grant safe haven for those accused of serious human rights crimes," Vivanco said. "It is imperative that Japan cooperate with the Peruvian government in the judicial resolution of the charges against former President Fujimori."