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Peru: Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment: Lori Helene Berenson (f)

, N° d'index: AMR 46/023/1998

Lori Helene Berenson, a US citizen sentenced to life emprisonment for treason by a Peruvian military court in January 1996, has been in solitary confinement for over two and a half months. AI considers that this treatment amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 46/23/98
UA 318/98 Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
or punishment 23 December 1998
PERULori Helene Berenson (f)
Lori Helene Berenson, 29, a US citizen, has been in solitary confinement for
over two and a half months. Prolonged solitary confinement can cause severe
and lasting physical and psychological damage, and Amnesty International is
concerned that this amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or
Lori Berenson was convicted of the terrorism-related crime of treason and
sentenced to life imprisonment by a Peruvian military court in January 1996,
for her alleged links to the armed opposition group Movimiento Revolucionario
Túpac Amaru (MRTA), Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Party.
She was transferred from the Penal de Máxima Seguridad de Yanamayo, Yanamayo
Maximum Security Prison, to Socabaya Prison, on 7 October 1998, ostensibly
because of her poor health. Since then she has been in solitary confinement,
in “dark silence” from 6pm to 6am.
In a letter to Amnesty International her parents say: "Her day is spent in
an almost completely silent environment. Her cell is in a separate wing of
the prison and she is unable to hear or see anyone else. Her only communication
is with the guard who brings her food and water and takes her to a courtyard
for one hour of isolated outdoor activity. She is permitted no access to
telephone, radio, TV, or any item, either electric or battery operated. She
is not permitted newspapers or political magazines. She is cut off from the
world. She said that she spends the day in her cold concrete cell singing so
she can hear another human voice, albeit her own."
Since new legislation was introduced in 1992, Amnesty International has been
concerned at the conditions endured by prisoners accused of terrorism-related
offences. For example, in September 1998 an Amnesty International delegation
visited Chorrillos high security women’s prison, in Lima, where they saw that
prisoners from the MRTA and the Partido Comunista del Perú (Sendero Luminoso)
(PCP), Communist Party of Peru (Shining Path), were only able to talk to family
visitors through a metal grille, through which it was difficult to hear or
Amnesty International believes that the Peruvian authorities are inflicting
cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment on PCP and MRTA prisoners. There is
evidence that PCP and MRTA prisoners who refuse to renounce their ideas are
being systematically denied rewards for “good behaviour” (which includes
renouncing their political beliefs). These rewards include extra time in the
prison yard and physical contact with visitors.
Amnesty International considers that under the 1992 anti-terrorism legislation
Lori Berenson did not receive a fair trial. The organisation has repeatedly
called on the Peruvian authorities to bring this legislation into line with
international standards on fair trial.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
Spanish or your own language:
- expressing concern that Lori Berenson has been in solitary confinement since
7 October 1998 in Socabaya Prison, which amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment;
- urging that Lori Berenson’s total isolation be brought to an end immediately;
- reminding the Government of Peru of its commitment to the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, in particular Article 5: "No one shall be subjected to torture
or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
Minister of Justice
Dr. Alfredo Quispe Correa
Ministro de Justicia
Ministerio de Justicia
Scipión Llona 350
Lima 18, PERU
Telegrams: Minister Justice, Lima, Peru
Faxes: + 511 422 3577
Salutation: Dear Minister/Sr. Ministro
President of the National Penitentiary Institute
General PNP Juan Nakandakari Kanashiro
Presidente del Consejo Penitenciario
Instituto Nacional Penitenciario
Jr. Carabaya 456
Lima 1, PERU
Faxes: + 511 427 0624
Salutation: Dear President / Sr. Presidente
Prison Governor
Sr. Director
Establecimiento Penal de Socabaya
Telegrams: Prison Governor, Socabaya, Arequipa, Peru
Salutation: Dear Governor/Sr. Director
Human Rights Organization
Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Jr. Túpac Amaru 2467
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 2 February 1999.
"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment or punishment"
Article 5, Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Visit the Amnesty International UDHR campaign website on http://www.amnesty.excite.com

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