New bill a major step backwards for human rights in Peru
A new bill introduced in Peru's Congress could, if approved, grant amnesty to alleged perpetrators of human rights violations. The bill would grant amnesty to members of the military and police involved in any violations of human rights committed in the case of Chavín de Huántar – the 1997 military operation to end the Japanese embassy hostage crisis. Irene Khan, Amnesty International's Secretary General said: "If approved, this bill would be a major step backwards for the rule of law in Peru as it would effectively grant impunity for individuals who could be responsible for human rights violations". Speaking from Chile, on Friday 7 November, where she presented a memorandum to President Bachelet calling for the annulment of the 1978 Chilean amnesty law, Khan added, "We've witnessed the negative impact amnesty laws have had in Chile and Peru and across countries in the region in the past. The illegality of such amnesty laws has been recognised by the Inter American Court of Human Rights (IACHR)." The new bill, if approved, would also create a commission which would be empowered to propose amnesties for any military or police personnel under investigation for human rights violations. Victims and their families would effectively be denied the right to learn the truth about the past or to obtain reparations. The president of the Defence Commission in Congress, Edgar Nuñez, presented the new bill on Thursday 6 November. It has been supported by more than 20 members of Congress from a variety of parties. An amnesty law passed in 1997 in Peru, but then rescinded, in 2002, was condemned by the IACHR in two well-known judgements – regarding the massacre of 15 women, men and children in Barrios Altos, Lima, in 1991 and the enforced disappearance and murder of nine students and a lecturer from La Cantuta University in 1992. Amnesty International is urging the Peruvian parliament not to approve the bill. The organization believes that, instead of granting impunity to perpetrators of human rights violations, the government should concentrate on bringing them to trial.