Peru: Crisis in the country must be addressed with full respect for human rights

The Peruvian authorities must refrain from using excessive force in response to the demonstrations spreading across the country and guarantee the rights to peaceful protest and freedom of expression, Amnesty International said today, after confirming at least two deaths and dozens of injuries yesterday.

Romario Quispe Garfias, 18, and another 15-year-old boy were killed yesterday in Andahuaylas, in the context of a political crisis that has generated protests in different areas of the country since 7 December, while the media reported that two more people died in protests today. Dozens of people, including civilians and police officers, have also been injured by firearms and blunt objects.

In addition, the National Association of Journalists of Peru recorded attacks on 21 journalists in Lima, Apurímac, Huaura, Arequipa and Puno while covering the protests between 7 and 11 December. Amnesty International has received information of other events in which the environment of violence hinders the practice of journalism and puts at risk the work and the right to inform and be informed. The aggressions range from the excessive use of force by the National Police to demonstrators committing aggressions, insults and attempting to strip journalists of their work equipment.

“State repression against protesters is only deepening the crisis in Peru. The authorities must put an end to the excessive use of force against demonstrations and guarantee the right to peaceful protest, using the legal and proportional means necessary to restore citizen security. Moreover, to prevent further escalation of violence, we urge the authorities to seek dialogue and put human rights at the heart of their response to the crisis,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.  

Amnesty International has verified images of police firing tear gas canisters from close range directly at the bodies of protesters in Plaza San Martin in Lima. Force should not be used except when strictly necessary, in a proportional manner and for a legitimate purpose, which should then be subject to a process of accountability. In situations of violence, security forces must individualize the response to those responsible for generating disturbances or endangering the life and integrity of others.

State repression against protesters is only deepening the crisis in Peru.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director, Amnesty International

Amnesty International reminds the authorities that a protest does not lose its peaceful character because of sporadic acts or unlawful behaviour by individuals. Therefore, the respect, guarantee and protection of the human rights of those who demonstrate peacefully must not be diminished. State security forces should also prioritize the peaceful resolution of the situation and avoid using force in ways that contravene international standards.

The Peruvian authorities must promptly, thoroughly, independently and impartially investigate all allegations of human rights violations in the context of the current crisis. Amnesty International is particularly concerned that the Police Protection Law (No. 3110), which has been in force since March 2020, leaves open the possibility for excessive use of force by the National Police to go unpunished, in contravention of Peru’s obligations under international law.

Amnesty International reiterates its call for unrestricted respect for human rights and for the authorities to deploy all available resources to resolve this conflict through dialogue, listening to all voices and stopping the repression in order to avoid more deaths and human rights violations.

The authorities must also use all available resources to safeguard the life and integrity of all injured persons, guaranteeing them immediate, timely and adequate medical attention. Likewise, they must provide the necessary support to the families of the deceased.

“The human rights of all people must come above any political interest. The solution to this crisis cannot involve more violence. The authorities must put the protection of the population before any political interest,” said Marina Navarro, executive director of Amnesty International Peru.