Torture and Political Persecution in Peru

In the past few years, the human rights panorama in Peru has brightened considerably because of the decline in the massive "disappearances" and extrajudicial executions that has accompanied reduced political violence. Despite this positive trend, however, serious human rights violations continue, chief among them the use of torture. With the success of the Alberto Fujimori administration in substantially crippling the armed opposition groups' military capacity, counterinsurgency efforts are now conducted principally through a system of special anti-terrorism courts and military tribunals, backed by a ubiquitous intelligence apparatus. Institutionalized torture plays a key role in this system. Torture is also routine in the interrogation of suspects in cases of common crime. The army has even used torture against its own members who came under suspicion of endangering national security.    Two armed opposition groups, the Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path (Partido Comunista del Perú-Sendero Luminoso, PCP-SL), known as the Shining Path, and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Revolucionario Túpac Amaru, MRTA), both consistently breach basic principles of international humanitarian law. The Shining Path commits selective assassinations of its civilian opponents and carries out indiscriminate attacks, killing and maiming civilians. The MRTA, on a lesser scale, has also resorted to executions and indiscriminate attacks, and has kidnaped civilians and taken them hostage for lucrative ransoms or to force the government into releasing imprisoned cadres. Both organizations have resorted to torture, usually as a prelude to execution.