Authorities undermined freedom of expression and assembly. By the end of the year, at least 22 people had died; dozens more, including a number of police officials, had been injured, many of them by firearms, in the context of the unlawful repression of demonstrations. Authorities failed to meet the needs of communities affected by environmental pollution. Six human rights defenders were killed in regions affected by illegal logging and drug trafficking. The right to comprehensive sexuality education was put at risk. Women and girls, including Venezuelan refugees, continued to experience multiple forms of violence. Discrimination and attacks on LGBTI people persisted.
Freedom of expression
Official statements undermined freedom of the press. The National Press Association reported 303 attacks on the press during the year, 63 of them in the context of the political crisis in December.
Freedom of assembly and impunity
At least three people died during protests following National Police interventions during the first half of the year.
In December, during the political crisis that followed the ousting of former president Pedro Castillo, protests broke out in different regions and violence in the country spiralled. In several instances, the response of the authorities to protests resulted in human rights violations, including unlawful use of force. At least 22 people died during demonstrations in the Apurímac, Ayacucho, Arequipa, La Libertad and Junín regions and dozens more were injured. Investigations into the deaths were continuing at the end of the year.
The Police Protection Law remained in force, effectively limiting accountability for human rights violations by security forces. Former president Manuel Merino and other high-ranking officials continued to enjoy immunity from prosecution regarding deaths and injuries during protests in November 2020 and the judiciary suspended investigations into the police officials implicated.
Failure to tackle climate crisis and environmental degradation
Congress again shelved a bill to ratify the Escazú Agreement.
Authorities failed to address the needs of communities affected by pollution caused by metals and other toxic substances, despite a special multisectoral plan involving a range of ministries and available funding for six regional governments for specialized medical care for these communities.
In February, a UN verification mission found that an 11,000-barrel oil spill in January by La Pampilla refinery, operated by the Spanish multinational Repsol, had impacted the livelihood of five local communities in Lima and Callao. In July, the Ombudsperson’s Office noted that some of those affected had yet to be identified and receive reparation and that neither the authorities nor the company had ensured an adequate clean-up of the affected area.
In September, 2,500 barrels of oil were spilled in the Loreto region by the company PetroPerú. According to the Ombudsperson’s Office, it seriously affected the community of Cuninico and other Indigenous communities, leaving them without food and water for several days and violating their right to live in a healthy environment.
Peru did not submit an update to its 2020 NDC. According to the Climate Action Tracker, its current NDC was rated “insufficient”.
Human rights defenders
There were official reports that at least six human rights defenders were killed during the year in the Madre de Dios, Loreto, Junín and Huánuco regions. The authorities failed to provide sufficient security in regions where human rights defenders faced heightened risks due to illegal logging and drug trafficking.
Right to health
High levels of inequality, low investment in public health, due in part to insufficient tax revenue, played a key role in Peru experiencing the highest Covid-19 death rate per million people of any country in the region. Despite this, there were no major reforms to the health system or health spending, which remained at 3.2% of GDP, far below the 6% recommended by the WHO.1
Indigenous peoples’ rights
In March, a Constitutional Court ruling declared a lawsuit filed by Indigenous communities regarding mining concessions on their territories inadmissible on grounds that prior consultation does not have constitutional rank. The Court did not take into consideration the constitutional rank of international human rights treaties ratified by Peru.
In June, Congress recognized Self-Defence and Rural Development Committees, which often operate in rural areas, as part of the national security system with the right to use lethal weapons. There were concerns this could undermine the rights of traditional communities entitled to have their own traditional guards to protect their territories.
Violence against women and girls
Between January and November, the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations recorded 25,403 cases of sexual violence (95% of the victims were women) and 7,549 rapes of minors.
The Ombudsperson’s Office reported 124 femicides; in 21 cases the women had initially been reported as missing. The Ministry also classified disappearances of women as a form of gender-based violence. According to the National Registry of Information on Missing Persons of the Ministry of the Interior, 11,524 girls and women were reported missing during the year, constituting 61% of the total number of cases.
Sexual and reproductive rights
In May, Congress passed a law allowing some parents’ organizations to veto aspects of school curriculums, undermining the right to comprehensive sexuality education.
In June, a bill was submitted to Congress which, if approved, would jeopardize access to abortion.
The trials of former president Alberto Fujimori and three of his ministers related to forced sterilizations started in March. In November, the Judiciary ordered administrative reparations be awarded to survivors of forced sterilizations who had still not received reparations.
LGBTI people’s rights
Peru remained one of the few countries in South America not to recognize transgender identity or same-sex marriage.
In June, the organization Féminas reported that a transgender woman was shot and injured. The authorities failed to keep an official register of continuing threats and attacks against transgender people.
Refugees’ and migrants’ rights
Thousands of people were unable to access migratory regularization programmes, which remained onerous and inadequate. The system to process asylum applications remained suspended.2
Venezuelan refugee women living in Peru faced multiple forms of violence.3 Discrimination and negative stereotypes related to their nationality and gender identity hindered their access to justice and healthcare.
In April, authorities summarily expelled 29 female foreign nationals without due process. Authorities did not consider their protection needs, whether they were victims of trafficking, or the risks they faced on return to their country of origin. In November, human rights organizations initiated a lawsuit against theofficials for these actions.
Right to truth, justice and reparation
Thirty years after the Cantuta massacre, the Public Prosecutor’s Office recommenced a forensic investigation to recover the remains of five of the victims not yet found.
In March, the Constitutional Court ordered the release of former president Alberto Fujimori from prison, restoring the so-called humanitarian pardon granted in 2017. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights urged the authorities not to comply with an order that was in breach of a previous ruling invalidating the pardon. He remained detained at the end of the year.
- Americas: Unequal and Lethal, 27 April
- Peru: Submission to the 34th Session of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, 23 February (Spanish only)
- Unprotected: Gender-based Violence against Venezuelan Refugee Women in Colombia and Peru, 12 July