violate the Constitution, but it remains free of any control by Constitutional Tribunal. As for the
remaining cases of
acciones de amparo,
the jurisprudence of the tribunal is erratic.
The Human Rights Situation
Human rights in Peru have improved over the last decade, due in large measure to the successful
campaign against terrorism and a corresponding decline in political violence. Serious violations,
including summary executions, disappearances, and detentions have decreased significantly from their
high levels in the early 1990s, while many special measures enacted to combat terrorism have been
scrapped. However, military courts still decide cases of treason and terrorism, and violations of penal
process rules continue to be detected in the trials of civilians in military courts.
The Ad Hoc Pardon Commission, created for the review of the cases of innocent people falsely accused
and convicted for terrorism, played a critical role in ensuring that miscarriages of justice were corrected,
belatedly, in terrorism cases. Set up by the President, this Commission included the Ombudsman, the
Minister of Justice and a presidential representative a respected priest who works in Peru's prison
system. The Commission's work, which included reviewing cases and recommending presidential
pardons where it found no evidence of terrorism, resulted in the release of 460 people. However, the
Government terminated the Commission's charter at the end of 1999 and passed its functions to the
Ministry of Justice. It is uncertain how strongly the Ministry of Justice is picking up where the
Commission left off.
The arbitrary detention of citizens by the police and the detainees' abuse or torture are serious and
recurrent problems, according to human rights groups. Such abuses have created a need for the Public
Ministry to monitor and punish police performance and for the Ombudsman to inspect the police forces
to ensure their training in due process and citizen rights. Intimidation campaigns promoted by
government authorities have also been criticized by human rights groups. Public figures and journalists
vocal in their opposition to government policies or actions are usually the targets of these campaigns,
which manifest themselves as legal proceedings or as attempts to collect tax arrears.
Among the more serious breaches of human rights include the government's failure to obey two verdicts
rendered by the Interamerican Court of Human Rights, one requiring the release and indemnification of a
defendant acquitted by a military trial, and the other compelling the government to hold a new civil trial
of several Chilean citizens convicted by military courts for treason and terrorism without respect for due
process. Expecting adverse verdicts, the government withdrew its recognition of the Court's jurisdiction.
In withdrawing its recognition of the Court, the government not only abdicated its international
commitment to human rights (agreed to in the American Convention of Human Rights), but it also
ensured impunity for human rights violations perpetrated by the regime, since it prevents the tribunal
from reviewing Peruvian human rights cases.
Role of the Ombudsman
As chartered by the 1993 Constitution, the
Defensoria del Pueblo
or Ombudsman protects and defends
the fundamental rights of citizens, supervises public administration and the performance of public
officials to ensure that they fulfill their duties, and supervises the provision of public services. The
Ombudsman has no coercive or punishing power, but authorities are obliged to cooperate with him. The
Ombudsman can also handle individual complaints or make recommendations for public sector reform.
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