• Campaigns

Peru: Death threats / fear for safety: Susana Villaran (f), human rights activist; Gisella Ortiz (f), Raida Condor (f), relatives of La Cantuta victims; Francisco Soberon, Ernesto de la Jara, human rights activists; Heriberto Benitez, lawyer; General Rodo

, Index number: AMR 46/025/1995

On 16 November 1995, a wreath was delivered to the premises of the independent human rights organiztaion, Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos. Its message implied the involvement of a "death squad", the Grupo Colina, and named the seven people listed above. AI is seriously concerned for the safety of those named in the death threat.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 46/25/95
UA 257/95 Death threats / Fear for safety 20 November 1995
PERUSusana Villarán (f), human rights activist
Gisella Ortíz (f), relative of La Cantuta victim
Raida Condor (f), relative of La Cantuta victim
Francisco Soberón, human rights activist
Ernesto de la Jara, human rights activist
Heriberto Benítez, lawyer
General Rodolfo Robles, dissident army officer
Henry Pease, Congressman
Javier Diez Canseco, Congressman
Gustavo Mohme, Congressman
On the morning of 16 November 1995, a wreath in the shape of a cross was delivered
at the premises of the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos, an independent human
rights organization. A card attached to the wreath read: "En recuerdo de los
que fueron y por la eterna calcinación de sus restos: NADA SOMOS", "In memory
of those who lived and for the eternal cremation of their remains: We're nobody".
This message was followed by the names of the three women and seven men listed
Although the message was signed off anonymously, its salutation, "Con mucho
recuerdo de la comunidad Colina", "With best regards from the Colina community",
indicates that members of the Grupo Colina, a "death squad" allegedly linked
to the Peruvian Servicio de Inteligencia del Ejército (SIE), were the senders.
In February 1994 members of the army, said to be part of the Grupo Colina,
were found guilty and sentenced up to 20 years imprisonment for the abduction
and killing of nine students and a professor from La Cantuta University in
July 1992. (See Peru: La Cantuta killings and other human rights violations
not yet fully investigated, AMR 46/03/94, March 1994). However, following the
government's promulgation of an amnesty law in June 1995, they were immediately
Amnesty International is seriously concerned for the safety of those named
in the death threat. The seven have all actively promoted respect for human
rights in Peru, and have condemned widespread human rights violations by the
security forces which have occurred in the context of a 15-year-old internal
conflict against the armed opposition. In addition, since the amnesty law came
into effect they have actively sought to have it revoked by Congress.
In June 1995 Congress passed a law which grants a general amnesty to all members
of the security forces and civilians who were subject of a complaint,
investigation, indictment, trial or conviction, or who were serving prison
sentences, for human rights violations committed between May 1980 and 15 June
Amnesty International has documented thousands of cases of "disappearance",
extrajudicial execution and torture which occurred between 1980 and 15 June
1995. Only on very few occasions were those responsible brought to justice.
The "institutionalization of impunity in Peru", wrote the United Nations (UN)
Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in his
1994 report following a visit to the country, is one of "the main problems
with the regard to [a lack of respect for] the right to life". With the passing
of the Amnesty Law in June 1995, institutionalised impunity was also legalised.
Amnesty International believes that the Amnesty Law was passed in response
to an ongoing judicial investigation against members of the army suspected
of having been responsible for the 1991 Barrios Altos massacre, in which 15
people were killed (see UA 401/91, AMR 46/75/91, 15 November 1991). Among those
being investigated were members of the Grupo Colina "death squad" and high
ranking army officers, including the Chief Commander of the Armed Forces and
the head of the SIE.
The Amnesty Law effectively closed this investigation. However, the decision
of the judge investigating the Barrios Altos massacre that the Amnesty Law
was inapplicable to this case, prompted a further law to be passed by Congress.
This law effectively prevents the judiciary from deciding on the legality or
applicability of the Amnesty Law.
National and international human rights defenders have strongly condemned both
laws, in effect impunity laws which are an affront to the victims and their
relatives, and which nurture a vicious circle of violence in which human rights
abuses go unpunished. Both laws were also strongly condemned by UN human rights
experts in a letter to the Government of Peru. The UN experts stated that
both laws "favour impunity".
Since these laws came into effect, human rights defenders who have opposed
their promulgation have received death threats on many occasions. (see UA
146/95, AMR 46/10/95, 23 June 1995 and follow-up, AMR 46/21/95, 3 October;
UA 149/95, AMR 46/12/95, 26 June and follow-ups, AMR 46/16/95, 13 July and
AMR 46/18/95, 12 September; and UA 168/95, AMR 46/15/95, 12 July).
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/airmail letters in
Spanish or your own language:
- expressing concern that Susana Villarán, Gisella Ortíz, Raida Condor,
Francisco Soberón, Ernesto de la Jara, Heriberto Benítez, General Rodolfo
Robles, Henry Pease, Javier Diez Canseco and Gustavo Mohme have been threatened
with death, apparently by members of the Grupo Colina, a "death squad" allegedly
linked to the Peruvian Servicio de Inteligencia del Ejército (SIE), Army
Intelligence Service;
- urging that all necessary steps be taken to ensure the safety of the above
named women and men;
- urging the Attorney General to ensure that a prompt and thorough investigation
in the death threat is conducted, the findings are made public, and the
perpetrators brought to justice.
Minister of Defence
General EP Víctor Malca Villanueva
Ministro de Defensa
Ministerio de Defensa
Avenida Boulevard y Monterrico
Lima 33, PERU
Faxes: +5114 334470
Telexes: 225438 comgregj
Telegrams: Ministro de Defensa, Lima, Peru
Salutation: Sr. Ministro/ Dear Minister
Attorney General
Dra. Blanca Nélida Colán Maguiño
Fiscal de la Nación
Fiscalía de la Nación
Av. Abancay, 5 cuadra, s/n
Lima 1, PERU
Faxes: +5114 262474 (if voice, ask "me da tono de fax, por favor", you may
then be asked who you are wishing to send to, reply "Fiscal de la Nación")
Telegrams: Fiscal de la Nación, Lima, Peru
Salutation: Sra. Fiscal de la Nación/ Dear Attorney General
Human rights organization
CNDDHH, Jr. Túpac Amaru 2467
Lince, Lima 14, PERU
and to diplomatic representatives of Peru accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 6 January 1996.

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