Human Rights Developments
A dramatic blow against human rights was struck on April 5, 1992, when President Alberto Fujimori violated Peru's constitution by dissolving the Congress, suspending the judiciary, jailing members of the opposition and assuming dictatorial powers. He defended this self-inflicted coup as necessary to pursue government reforms, combat widespread corruption and bolster the war against the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) insurgency.
When President Fujimori took office in 1990, he faced one of the most daunting challenges in Latin America. The economy was in ruins, the cocaine trade was expanding and the Maoist Shining Path had made significant gains in its campaign to destroy democracy. Since the Shining Path took up arms in 1980, at least 26,000 Peruvians have fallen victim to political violence by government and insurgent forces, over 210,000 have become internally displaced and several thousand have been forcibly disappeared. Peru is among the countries that year after year lead the world in reported disappearances, according to the United Nations Working Group on Forced and Involuntary Disappearances.
Although the coup was condemned abroad, most
Peruvians, beset by poverty, widespread corruption and violence, supported it as an extraordinary measure to impose order. The new regime moved quickly to curtail civil liberties and silence critics. Immediately after the coup, 21 journalists were detained and kept incommunicado for several days. The elected leaders of the Senate and House of Deputies were temporarily placed under house arrest, and one prominent senator was beaten by police when he tried to attend a protest meeting in Lima. One member of the American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (apra) political party, Andrés de los Ríos Bernardini, was forcibly disappeared for 22 days, and upon release reported having been mistreated.
Thirteen members of the Supreme Court, the leadership of the Public Ministry, including the Public Prosecutor, and over 100 judges and prosecutors were later fired. New laws prevented fired officials from appealing their dismissal. Among those sacked were a judge who accepted a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of three jailed police generals and two judges who accepted a writ of amparo on behalf of other judges protesting their dismissal. Other judges fired included some noted for their willingness to take up humanrights cases. Regime supporters were appointed in their place, leading Americas Watch to conclude that firings were made on completely arbitrary or political grounds, rather than the asserted grounds of corruption.
Despite repeated pledges by President Fujimori to strengthen respect for human rights-including a still-unfulfilled promise to create a National Commission of Human Rights-little of practical value has been accomplished. Nor has his administration taken steps to end the impunity enjoyed by military abusers of human rights. A law doubling the punishment for police convicted of crimes, including human rights violations, was welcome, but failed to address the problem of military personnel involved in similar abuses. Meanwhile, five police agents arrested for killing three youths in custody in 1991 remained in pretrial detention while a jurisdictional dispute between civilian and military courts went unresolved. A police official implicated in the murders remains at large despite an outstanding warrant for his arrest.
Two months after abolishing a law penalizing those who forcibly disappear people, President Fujimori signed a decree on July 2 recriminalizing the abuse and establishing a national registry of detainees and disappeared to be maintained by the Public Prosecutor's office. However, no measure to put teeth into the law-like the creation of a force of independent, civilian investigators or the requirement of public access to the registry-was included. The temporary decriminalization of disappearances may well have done irreparable damage: officials who might have been charged for the thousands of disappearances that took place before July 1992 may now be able to invoke the defense of the "most benign penal law" to prevent prosecution and thus ensure continued impunity for those crimes. Emblematic of impunity's reign is the case of General José Valdivia Dueñas, implicated in the May 1988 massacre in Cayara of at least 28 people, the disappearance of dozens more and the subsequent murder of nine witnesses. General Valdivia was promoted in January 1992 to Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Joint Command, one of the most powerful posts in the country.
To the best of Americas Watch's knowledge, in 12 years there have been only two cases in which members of the military have been convicted of human rights offenses. One case that merits scrutiny involved the murder of 69 peasants, including six children, in Accomarca on August 14, 1985, by members of four army patrols. Despite evidence and eyewitness testimony linking five officers to the murders, a military tribunal absolved all but one, the most junior, of any crime. In a 1987 decision, the court convicted Sub-Lieutenant Telmo Hurtado Hurtado of "abuse of authority with disobedience" and sentenced him to four years in prison and immediate dismissal from the army. Although Hurtado was sent to the Lima army base where a military prison is located, he was never confined. Indeed, he was never even dismissed from active duty, and was promoted normally.
In a rare move, the General Prosecutor of the Military Supreme Court, General Luis Carnero Debernardi, questioned irregularities in the proceeding and the leniency of the decision and filed an appeal on December 3, 1987. A subsequent army investigation, nevermade public but leaked to the Lima daily La República, found that all five officers and their men engaged in rape, the burning alive of captured peasants, on-the-spot executions, the murder of witnesses and the wanton destruction of houses. Although the case was reopened for investigation in 1988, Hurtado again was the only defendant convicted on the same charges. The others were absolved on the grounds that they were following higher orders. Lieutenant Guillermo Paz Bustamante was absolved of failing to inform his superiors of the deaths of two peasants, on the grounds that the officer "lacked time, was tired and was experiencing a very tense situation." Although the sentence against Hurtado was confirmed and increased to six years in March 1992, the sentence was suspended and the case closed. Hurtado was never dismissed, never served time in prison, and now has the rank of captain.
The second conviction of a military officer in a human rights case was handed down in January 1992, when a military court sentenced retired army major Luis Angel Morillas Céspedes to 15 years in prison for having ordered his subordinates to murder a civilian and hide his body.
Twelve years of counterinsurgency strategy based on granting the military exceptional powers has produced not only the steady growth of insurgency, but also systematic, egregious and continuing human rights abuses coupled with complete impunity for members of the security forces implicated in the abuses. Far from a "soft dictatorship" (dictablanda), as supporters have described President Fujimori's rule, this regime is characterized by continued, flagrant abuse of human rights. The Lima-based National Coordinating Committee for Human Rights (Coordinadora) has documented 139 unresolved disappearances in the first nine months of 1992 (the government's special human rights prosecutor recorded an additional 99 cases of forced disappearance during the same period) and 44 extrajudicial executions in the first eight months, all of them attributed to the security forces.
In the department of San Martín, the Catholic Prelate's Office of Social Action registered 125 cases of human rights violations by the army in the first eight months of 1992, including rape, arbitrary detention, disappearance and extrajudicial executions. Human rights groups have also noted an alarming increase in killings that they believe to be carried out by paramilitary groups with ties to the army and intelligence services. In Huancayo, human rights groups believe a paramilitary squad with ties to the army is implicated in the murder of 19 students and the disappearance of at least 12 others since August. Among the hundreds of cases that remain unprosecuted is the paramilitary-style massacre of 15 people in the Barrios Altos district of Lima on November 3, 1991 by plainclothesmen believed to be linked to army intelligence.
The government continues to emphasize the role of civil defense patrols, or rondas campesinas, in areas where the Shining Path is active. While some are formed by villagers themselves to protect against guerrilla incursions, others are mandated and controlled by the Army. All have official legal backing, and are authorized to receive defensive weapons. Some patrols have brought relative peace to areas long torn by conflict. However, the use of civilians in counterinsurgency makes them military targets withoutgranting them the protection necessary to prevent retaliation. In rural areas, the highest death tolls are those of patrol members and their families, who often have no access to transportation or medical care for the wounded. In addition, patrols have committed serious human rights violations. In one case, 40 patrollers from the community of Colpar, Junín detained ten peasants in nearby Paccha on February 27 and, according to witnesses, beat them before marching them away. The ten remain disappeared.
In the Apurímac Valley, civil defense patrols have successfully defeated guerrillas, but in their place have permitted a booming trade in cocaine. In some areas, wealthier farmers are funding a paramilitary organization called "The Tigers," which threatens to evolve into a Colombia-style private army and which has been accused of abuses. Farther north, the Army has fostered the expansion of the Asháninka Army, led by indigenous leaders to combat guerrillas. Asháninka units have also been implicated in attacks against peasant families, in an attempt to win back traditional hunting lands.
Immediately after the coup was announced, radio stations, newspapers and magazines were forcibly closed. Television news broadcasts were monitored by military officers who had been stationed in studios under the pretext of providing "protection." One example of increased restrictions on the press was the decision of three post-coup appointees to the Supreme Court to uphold a charge of defamation against Enrique Zileri, publisher of the respected newsweekly Caretas, for describing in the magazine a close Fujimori adviser as a "Rasputin." A political candidate for mayor of Lima was similarly charged for calling Fujimori a "cheap dictator." The court imposed a $40,000 fine on Zileri as well as restrictions on his movements.
On May 6, Fujimori ordered police to enter the Shining Path women's cellblock in Lima's "Miguel Castro Castro" prison to transfer inmates to another facility. When inmates resisted, a four-day pitched battle ensued, during which prisoners resisted with home-made weapons and guns captured from police. One policeman was reportedly murdered by prisoners after being captured and two more died in uncertain circumstances. Although facts remain unclear, at least 39 prisoners died in circumstances suggesting that excessive force was used. Some may have been killed after surrendering to police. At the very least, the government's refusal to allow independent observers to enter or mediate during the standoff suggests that it did not want witnesses to its actions inside. Americas Watch has called for a public, independent investigation and access to the autopsies of those killed. The Fujimori government has ignored its obligation to provide a serious explanation of the slayings at the prison, and has taken no action to investigate or punish those responsible.
In the weeks after the inmates were transferred, Americas Watch interviewed prisoners in the Chorrillos penitentiary on two separate occasions. Four of the women who survived the clash reported inhumane conditions at Chorrillos beyond the ordinarily appalling ones present in Peruvian detention facilities. Prisoners were prevented from speaking with their lawyers or receiving family visits or packages of clothes, medicine and food. Three weeks aftertheir arrival at the new facility, they had only the clothes they had worn during the confrontation. They were kept two to three to a cell with no opportunity to go outside except to shower briefly once a week. Food was inadequate, and they were prevented from reading, writing, listening to the radio or speaking with national human rights groups. While recognizing the government's obligation to maintain secure prisons, Americas Watch called for humane conditions consistent with security requirements, including family visits, clean clothing, adequate food, medical attention and regular exercise. The appeal has gone unheeded.
The Shining Path attempted to capitalize on the coup by launching a campaign to bring terror to urban Peru, particularly Lima. One independent human rights group noted that there were more guerrilla actions in July, with 293 attacks, than any other month since Fujimori's inauguration in 1990.
According to the Coordinadora, the Shining Path was
responsible for at least 482 political assassinations in the first ten months of 1992, with the victims including more than 70 elected and state-appointed officials. Guerrillas continued to target members of shantytown "survival" organizations, like soup kitchens, neighbor associations and mothers' clubs, murdering more than 60 people. In August, the Shining Path killed a Pucallpa reporter and Santiago Jao Gómez, the owner of two radio stations in Barranca, who was also a member of the Popular Christian Party.
Through a network of clandestine and semi-clandestine front organizations, the Shining Path typically seeks to infiltrate popular organizations, force collaboration and provoke divisions. If organizations resist, the Shining Path attacks installations, executes key leaders, and threatens others. Similarly, when people do not support the Shining Path, guerrillas exact bloody revenge. One victim in 1992 was María Elena Moyano, the 33-year-old vice mayor of Villa El Salvador, a Lima municipality of 300,000. After several months of threats, attacks and murders of women leaders, Moyano led public protests against these terror tactics. On February 15, an assassination squad shot Moyano at a fund-raising barbecue, then blew up her body with dynamite. The
Shining Path proudly claimed credit for this crime in its national and international press outlets, on the grounds that Moyano's open activities ran counter to its revolutionary objectives.
On May 22, guerrillas detonated a 660-pound bomb in a banking district, killing one and wounding 15. This was the first of six car or truck bombs of over 600 pounds set off in the capital. Although guerrillas have used car bombs before, the immensity of these explosions marked a horrifying new chapter in the war. All were aimed at civilian targets: an internationally renowned development institution, a television station, a foreign embassy and a school for children of military officers were among the targets. On July 16, a 1,300-pound bomb aimed at two banks killed 22 and left more than 200 wounded in downtown Miraflores, a middle-class Lima municipality.
Far from aberrations, these attacks demonstrate the Shining Path's open contempt for life. As spokesman Luis Arce Borja explained to the German magazine Der Spiegel after the bombing:
We know that many innocent people are dying. But history is written with blood. We will never attain power if we are tormented by the deaths. The price is high, but without bloodshed and violence there is no revolution. Our objective is to seize power. Only then will the deaths cease.
True to that vow in October, guerrillas killed 47 people, including 33 women and children, in the Ayacucho village of Huayao, apparently in punishment for forming a civil defense patrol. The insurgents reportedly killed 11 more residents in the neighboring village of Rumi Rumi after President Fujimori visited Huayao in the wake of the massacre.
The size of the "Emergency Zone" placed under military control, with restrictions on movement, assembly and the privacy of the home, diminished in 1992, from nearly half to less than one-quarter of the country. But because those provinces where liberties were restored have such small populations, the number of people affected remained roughly the same, about 50 percent of the country's population.
Yet in important respects, the entire country now lives under "emergency rules." Decree 25475, the anti-terrorist legislation promulgated on May 5, leaves Peruvians virtually unprotected against the abuse of power. Employing a vague definition of terrorism, this law authorizes prosecution of anyone who "provokes anxiety" or "affects international relations" by any means, including nonviolent ones. The law is written so broadly that journalists and human rights activists could be charged under it because of critical articles or reports, and face prison terms of not less than 20 years. One human rights monitor, José Ramírez García, has been in pretrial detention for three months under terrorism charges because of materials on political violence found in his library. The crime of "apology for terrorism"-an accusation that President Fujimori has leveled frequently at human rights groups-is never defined, but carries a sentence of between six and twelve years imprisonment. Such crimes are to be tried before "faceless judges" in circumstances that seriously violate the right to due process.
A law promulgated on August 13 defined "treason" to include some acts listed in Decree Law 25475, and transferred prosecutions for this offense to secret, military courts. Those convicted in summary courts-martial are subject to life imprisonment and severe restrictions on their subsequent ability to confer with lawyers or receive family visits. The competence and impartiality of military courts is highly suspect. Military judges are not legal professionals but officers drawn from the ranks to serve set terms. According to Peru's military code, they are charged with hearing only cases involving soldiers accused of military-specific crimes, such as negligence or disobeying orders, and thus are ill-prepared to handle their new case load. Other decrees prohibit lawyers from assuming the defense of more than one person charged with either terrorism or treason, a restriction that falls hardest on those living outside urban centers, where there are few lawyers.
In addition, according to Decree Law 25744, police need thepermission of only a military court to carry out "preventative detentions" of suspects and hold them incommunicado indefinitely. Since the Treason Law also abolished the right to amparo and habeas corpus for those accused of terrorism and treason, citizens can be held for long periods with no legal recourse or access to counsel. Draconian in and of themselves, these restrictions are also alarming because the period of incommunicado detention is typically when detainees are tortured, raped and forcibly disappeared.
If police turn a suspect over to the courts for investigation, the detainee is prohibited from gaining conditional liberty, even when demonstrably innocent. Rather, he or she remains imprisoned while a specially constituted secret trial is held with "faceless" judges and prosecutors. Decree 25728 allows trials for citizens accused of treason or terrorism to be held in absentia.
The combined effect of these laws is that anyone can be arrested at any time on charges that no one has a responsibility to make public and held indefinitely. To be arrested under these circumstances means to descend into a legal no-man's land, where the most basic rights vanish.
Ironically, these new severe restrictions on basic rights played no role in the single greatest blow against the Shining Path, the September 12 arrest its leader, Abimael Guzmán, and more than 50 of his top followers. The arrests were the result of patient, traditional police work by dincote, the specialized anti-terrorism police, not military sweeps or restrictive laws. However, the new restrictions on due process tainted the aftermath of the arrests. The military tribunals used offered no guarantees of independence or impartiality. The proceedings were excessively speedy, with little opportunity for the defendants to put forward a defense or to contradict the prosecution's evidence. The extremely short time to present an appeal-eight hours, on a decision handed to Guzmán's lawyer on a Friday night-made a mockery of the process.
The right of Guzmán and his associates to a fair trial was further compromised by numerous statements made by President Fujimori in favor of conviction and the death penalty before a court decision was announced. The death penalty does not even exist as a punishment under current law except for cases of treason in a foreign war. In addition, President Fujimori threatened to write into law a provision that would allow the state to try convicted leaders for the crimes of alleged followers even after the leaders were incarcerated.
While Americas Watch has consistently and energetically condemned the blatant violations of common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions committed by the guerrillas, we have defended the rights of those accused of belonging to the Shining Path to a fair trial.
On June 1, the day after a delegation from the Organization of American States (oas) led by Uruguayan Foreign Minister Héctor Gros Espiell left Peru, President Fujimori called elections for November 22-more than a month after the October 18 deadline set by the oas. Although the oas had resolved that the road back to democracy should be determined through dialogue between Fujimori and the opposition, Fujimori established the date and procedures for theelections unilaterally. As a result, the apra, Acción Popular, Libertad and the Unified Mariátegui Party-Peru's largest parties-boycotted the elections. New parties and those that received less than five per cent of the vote in the 1990 election were required to collect a minimum of 100,000 signatures in less than two months, placing an undue burden on all but the largest parties. In violation of the Peruvian constitution, Fujimori also postponed municipal elections until January 29, 1993, almost a month after current municipal authorities are scheduled to leave their posts.
Elections were held as scheduled on November 22, with President Fujimori's New Majority-Change 90 coalition winning a slim majority of seats in the congress. As decreed by Fujimori, the Democratic Constituent Congress (dcc) will be unicameral and contain 80 representatives elected to terms ending in July 1995. Its task will be to draft a new constitution and develop a new legislative system. However, Fujimori has decreed that the dcc will have no authority to overturn executive actions implemented since April 5. In summary, the return to popular rule that is supposedly represented by the dcc has occurred without open debate, without the consent of existing political parties, without full legislative power conferred to the constituent congress, and without any move toward respect for human rights.
The Right to Monitor
Both sides to the Peruvian armed conflict threatened and attacked human rights monitors in 1992. President Fujimori
continued to slander domestic and international human rights groups and, in a new and troubling development, initiated criminal proceedings against several human rights monitors under the new anti-terrorist legal norms. Indeed, the use of military courts against human rights monitors does not appear far-fetched in the wake of statements by Fujimori after the capture of Guzmán, when he asserted that Guzmán's campaign of "death and destruction [took place] under the silent, protective cloak of organizations that defend human rights." In addition to being wrong-national and international human rights groups, including Americas Watch, have consistently and energetically denounced abuses committed by armed insurgents-these statements irresponsibly invite violent attacks by the army and its paramilitary allies against monitors. Among the most worrisome cases in 1992 was the forced disappearance of Pedro Yauri Bustamante, a Huaura journalist and town council member known for his defense of human rights. Witnesses indicate that Yauri was detained on June 23 by armed men wearing uniforms who identified themselves as members of dincote. The next morning, neither the local police station nor the office of the Technical Police would accept from Yauri's father a formal complaint denouncing his son's detention. A judge later declared a writ of habeas corpus unfounded. Yauri's whereabouts remain unknown.
As noted above, José Ramírez García, a human rights monitor and writer on political violence from Cusco, has been in pretrial detention since August 17 for photocopying the book Sendero Luminoso: el movimiento más letal del mundo (Shining Path: The Most Lethal Movement in the World) by Simon Strong. Although the book isfiercely critical of the Shining Path and has not been banned in Peru, the police have charged Ramírez with terrorism based on his photocopying of the book and on his possession of copies of Shining Path literature later found in his home.
Carlos Chipoco, an attorney widely respected for his human rights work, has been charged with apology for terrorism on the basis of a report submitted by the National Intelligence Service (SIN) to a Lima prosecutor which stated that Chipoco had worked for Americas Watch in Washington and was responsible for bringing two cases against Peru to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the oas body whose compulsory jurisdiction Peru has recognized.
The police also made public a list of "suspected Shining Path sympathizers abroad," which included two figures who are well-known for their human rights work: Raquel Martín Castillo de Mejía, currently in political exile in Sweden, who is pursuing a case before the oas Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for the disappearance of her husband, a human rights lawyer; and Angelica Mendoza de Ascarza, the founder and long-time president of the Ayacucho Association of the Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared (anfasep). Neither woman is known to have connections to guerrillas. Mendoza is said to have "coordinated" Shining Path activities in France, yet she has never lived in that nation. The publication of Castillo de Mejía's and Mendoza de Ascarza's names in this manner constitutes a threat to their lives and the lives of other human rights monitors. In September, the government formally charged both women and ordered their arrest.
Another human rights defender, attorney Tito Guido Gallegos Gallegos, was charged on November 3, 1992, with "collaboration with terrorism"-a crime which carries a penalty of 20 years in prison. Gallegos monitors human rights for the Catholic Church's Vicariate of Solidarity in Puno. In October, he presented a habeas corpus writ on behalf of a 13-year-old boy charged with terrorism. Although the judge accepted the petition and ordered the boy to be freed, he later reversed himself on the grounds that the right to habeas corpus no longer exists for those accused of terrorism. He then instructed the public prosecutor to charge Gallegos with collaboration with terrorism, for allegedly improperly using the habeas remedy. Fortunately, the charge was dropped after protests from Americas Watch and other human rights groups. Nonetheless, the case illustrates the tremendous threat to human rights work posed by President Fujimori's new decrees.
Violent attacks on human rights monitors before 1992 remain unpunished. The investigation into the attack against human rights lawyer Augusto Zúñiga, who lost his left arm after receiving a letter bomb on March 15, 1991, is stalled. At the time of the attack, Dr. Zúñiga was investigating the alleged police-led disappearance of university student Ernesto Castillo Páez on October 21, 1990. In August 1992, a Lima court temporarily shelved the Castillo Páez case claiming that evidence against the police was still lacking.
For its part, the Shining Path continued to attack human rights as "middle-class illusions," even as it called on international human rights organizations to denounce abuses against its members. On October 7, Shining Path detonated explosives thatdestroyed the office of the Vicariate of Solidarity in Ayaviri, Puno department. The Vicariate of Solidarity carries out peace and human rights activities under the auspices of the Catholic Church.
During 1992, the focus of U.S. policy toward Peru shifted from one of preoccupation with anti-narcotics operations to concern over the threat posed by the Shining Path. While the Bush administration reacted swiftly and forcefully to the April 5 presidential coup, its outrage was slowly replaced with anxiety over the Shining Path's growing influence. Some U.S. policymakers became convinced they had to choose between supporting an abusive government and risking Peru falling to the guerrillas. In making this choice, they lost sight of the importance of respect for human rights as a tool for rebuilding the government's legitimacy needed to defeat the Shining Path. The result has been a U.S. administration that has placed its trust, unjustifiably, in President Fujimori's stated intention to restore some semblance of democracy, despite the evidence that the constituent congress will be powerless to disassemble the authoritarian regime he has been constructing since April 5.
The U.S. government initially responded to the April 5 coup by calling for a speedy return to democracy and respect for human rights. In a speech before the oas, Secretary of State James Baker called the coup "tragic," and added, "you cannot destroy democracy in order to save it." While in Lima, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Bernard Aronson canceled an appointment with President Fujimori and instead met with members of the human rights Coordinadora, sending an important message of support for its work.
The Bush administration suspended all new aid and
approximately $25 million in economic aid and $15 million in military aid that had been appropriated but not disbursed from fiscal year 1991 because members of Congress believed that Peru had not yet complied with the human rights conditions mandated by law for the aid to be delivered. The United States also froze commercial military sales to Peru and pulled out all Green Beret trainers working with Peruvian anti-narcotics police. However, anti-narcotics activities, such as Drug Enforcement Administration programs and police training administered by the State Department, continued uninterrupted, as did all humanitarian assistance. With the exception of Japan, which reinstated a $53 million credit on July 31, other countries followed the U.S. lead by suspending assistance.
The rapid and firm international response, which apparently surprised President Fujimori, was probably decisive in prompting him to remove troops from the streets and newsrooms and to free political leaders. In later weeks, however, Washington quietly softened its position, siding with the majority in the oas that advocated a more gentle approach to the Peruvian regime. In June, the United States joined a unanimous World Bank board of directors in approving a $400 million loan for Peru's financial sector. While the U.S. opposed an Inter-American Development Bank loan of $221 million just after the April coup, by September the U.S. activelysupported the loan, citing progress such as Fujimori's announcement of elections. Approval of the loan enables Peru to refinance its debt with the Inter-American Development Bank and thus to become eligible for additional loans that had previously been delayed. Americas Watch opposes U.S. support for these non-humanitarian loans, since their approval has made it appear, falsely, that President Fujimori has made acceptable progress toward the restoration of democracy and respect for human rights.
In January 1992, the State Department issued its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1991, which contained significant omissions in the chapter on Peru. While the report notes "continued...credible reports of summary executions, 'disappearances,' arbitrary detention, torture and rape by the military and police," it adds that the number of unresolved disappearances had fallen. Yet it fails to note that the number of extrajudicial executions had increased, according to local human rights groups. Moreover, although the number of disappearances did decline in the second half of 1991, the number reported for the year as a whole exceeded that of 1990.
After the November 22, 1992 elections, the State Department was quick to signal its eagerness to restore economic assistance, hailing the elections as "an important first step back toward fully constitutional government," in the words of a senior State Department official who briefed reporters on November 23 on the condition that he not be named.
Efforts to restore significant amounts of assistance may face opposition in the U.S. Congress, regardless of the November 22 elections, since human rights conditions that Congress imposed on anti-narcotics assistance in 1991 have still not been fully complied with. While the International Committee of the Red Cross (icrc) has been permitted increased access to military and police detention centers, it was denied access to the Miguel Castro Castro prison for more than five weeks following the violence in May.
When Americas Watch visited the ministry responsible for prosecutions in July, the office's central list of detained and disappeared-a list mandated by the U.S. Congress's human rights conditions set forth in 1991-was not yet fully functional. While the Peruvian army had cooperated, for the most part, with the maintenance of the registry, the police had yet to comply. There is legitimate concern that the ministry, since April 5 administered by a Fujimori appointee, may no longer be able to maintain such a list in an independent manner.
Moreover, there has been almost no movement toward resolving any of nine prominent human rights cases which the Congress had chosen to measure progress in prosecution of human rights violators.
In response to the April 5 coup, Congress prohibited new military assistance for Peru for fiscal years 1992 and 1993. (Military assistance was originally appropriated for Peru in fiscal year 1992, but was rescinded after the coup.) A small portion of the $95 million of Economic Support Funds (esf) approved for Peru in fiscal year 1992 was disbursed, primarily for the Administration of Justice and miscellaneous narcotics education programs, and Congress has placed a cap of $50 million on esf for fiscal year1993.
The Bush administration opposed conditioning funding under the 1992 International Narcotics Control Act (INCA) on human rights. The human rights conditions attached to the 1990 INCA had led to a bitter debate over human rights in Peru. In 1992, the
administration threatened to veto the new INCA if human rights conditions were included. Congress capitulated and withdrew the conditions.
Some members of Congress have looked into reports that the Central Intelligence Agency helped to found a special anti-drug unit allegedly headed by Vladimiro Montesinos within the military intelligence service. Montesinos is a close advisor to President Fujimori who reportedly played a central role in planning and executing the April 5 coup. He is also well known in Peru for his defense of drug traffickers during the 1980s and his participation in the attempted cover-up following the 1988 Cayara massacre. CIA assistance has also reportedly been used to provide vehicles and training in the United States to Peruvian intelligence agents under Montesinos's command. These vehicles may have been used for the April 5 arbitrary detention of journalist Gustavo Gorriti, the November 1991 Barrios Altos massacre, and other human rights violations. Americas Watch believes that the U.S. should terminate any covert or overt assistance to units, such as the National Intelligence Service allegedly controlled by Montesinos, which engage in gross violations of human rights.
Efforts sponsored by the Organization of American States to reinstate democracy have been important, yet also contradictory and limited. The oas responded rapidly to the coup, calling an emergency meeting of foreign ministers and sending representatives to Peru four times between April 20 and May 30. Its intervention probably prevented the situation from worsening further. However, subsequent oas statements have been less emphatic, thus facilitating the half-measures, deceptions and attempts to shrug off international pressure that have characterized the Peruvian regime's response.
During the May oas General Assembly in Nassau, Bahamas, discussion of the coup was marred by a storm of criticism over a special report on Peru by the President of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Marco Tulio Bruni Celli. Peru's Minister of Justice, Fernando Vega, charged that the report gave the armed insurgents increased international status, presumably by recounting inmates' testimony regarding the slaying of 39 prisoners by police in May. Meanwhile Uruguayan Foreign Minister Héctor Gros Espiell, chosen to head the oas efforts on Peru, was quoted in the press asserting that the Commission report, which Americas Watch found accurate and forceful, was filled with "half-truths." Gros Espiell also criticized the Commission for failing to report on abuses committed by insurgents throughout Latin America, echoing comments by Peruvian officials, even though the oas has never provided the Commission with the resources necessary to address rebel abuses. This dispute diverted attention from the military-backed coup and its effect on human rights. Worse, its apparentpurpose was to suggest that the coup and accompanying abuses were justified by the fight against Shining Path-a troubling precedent.
The oas also failed in its mission to promote a successful dialogue between Fujimori and the democratic opposition. On August 18, the oas Council of Ministers issued a communiqué stating that "all possible means were exhausted to expand the dialogue," a ridiculous assertion given that Fujimori refused any compromise and insisted on mandating the terms himself. Talks between Fujimori and Gros Espiell became a substitute for dialogue between Fujimori and the democratic opposition. The oas's acceptance of this substitution served to further entrench Fujimori's authoritarian approach and to confer an aura of legitimacy on the regime.
The Work of Americas Watch
Through reports, press releases, opinion articles and frequent correspondence with the government, Americas Watch continued to condemn human rights violations and violations of the laws of war by both the government and armed insurgents. Several Americas Watch missions visited Peru before and after the April 5 coup to gather information and meet with government officials. One investigation was conducted in conjunction with the Human Rights Watch Women's Rights Project, to prepare a report on women and political violence. Americas Watch also organized and participated in a delegation of human rights activists from several Latin American countries that traveled to Peru in May to raise human rights concerns in the wake of the coup. As a result of those missions, Americas Watch published two brief reports in August: Peru: Civil Society and Democracy Under Fire and El Perú de Fujimori: Golpe a la Democracia y a los Derechos Humanos. Also during the May visit, members of the Americas Watch delegation spoke with four women who survived the clash at the Miguel Castro Castro prison. With Peruvian journalist Gustavo Gorriti, Americas Watch visited key congressional offices to urge close vigilance of human rights in Peru, especially as the country prepared for new elections. Information provided by Americas Watch was considered by congressional offices that were developing U.S. drug policy in the Andean region.
In cooperation with Peruvian human rights organizations and the Center for Justice and International Law (cejil), Americas Watch is acting as counsel for the victims in two important cases currently being litigated before the oas Inter-American Court of Human Rights. One involves the 1986 prison riots and subsequent massacre at the island prison of El Frontón, and the other concerns the Cayara massacre of 1988 and the subsequent persecution and murder of investigators and witnesses.