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Peru: Ensure Thorough Investigations of Abuses

HRW Oral Statement - Item 6 Universal Periodic Review Outcome - HRC53

We welcome the recommendations made during the UPR of Peru, which include numerous recommendations to prevent the excessive use of force by security forces and investigate abuses against protesters.

We welcome the acceptance by Peru of these recommendations; however, its acceptance stands in stark contrast to the statement made at the review in January by the head of the delegation of Peru, who said that the security forces abided by international and Peruvian law and avoided the use of disproportionate force.

Human Rights Watch, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, news media, and others have presented solid, credible evidence to the contrary.

We agree with the government of Peru that former president Pedro Castillo’s attempt in 2022 to close Congress, take over the judiciary, and rule by decree amounted to a coup d’état. Those actions triggered the current political crisis. Thousands of people took to the streets—mostly rural workers and Indigenous people who experience marginalization and unequal access to government services. Protesters called for early elections, among other demands. 

Some protesters carried out serious acts of violence, which need to be investigated, but the response by the military and police was indiscriminate, disproportionate, and brutal. Security forces fired assault rifles and handguns at unarmed protesters and bystanders. Forty-nine people, including 8 children, were killed—the vast majority from gunshot wounds.

More than 1,300 people were injured during the protests, including police officers. Human Rights Watch also documented due process violations and abuses against detainees.

The government of Peru seems to have looked the other way as abuses occurred. It disparaged and stigmatized protesters and has failed to acknowledge that security forces committed serious violations of human rights. Human Rights Watch also documented serious flaws in the investigations of the abuses, including failures to collect key initial evidence.

It is crucial that investigations be prompt, thorough and independent, and that the government take urgent measures to ensure security forces abide by the law in the future. To that end, we urge the government to invite an interdisciplinary group of international experts to support ongoing criminal investigations and report on the causes of the crisis and on the ensuing human rights violations.


Human Rights Watch delivered this statement on July 7, 2023, during the 53rd session of the UN Human Rights Council.

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