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“The UN, Nicaragua and Peru”, by Farid Kahhat

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the UN delivered to the Peruvian Government a letter signed by eight special rapporteurs. It emphasizes “the obligation of the State to carry out thorough, prompt, effective, impartial and independent investigations of all alleged human rights violations” that would have occurred in recent months in Peru. It is also required that the Government provide information on these investigations within a maximum period of 60 days. What implications could derive from that request?

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To answer that question, let’s look at the case of the UN Human Rights Expert Group’s report on Nicaragua. He received the mandate to investigate alleged human rights violations in Nicaragua in March 2022, and made his report public a year later. The fact that the Nicaraguan Government neither recognized this mandate nor cooperated with the rapporteurs did not prevent them from carrying out their work. In their report they conclude that President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, together with seven state institutions, committed crimes against humanity. Unlike a report from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that suggested the same, the UN report clearly states this and establishes specific responsibilities for some 355 deaths that occurred in 2018. Therefore, it constitutes sufficient evidence to initiate criminal proceedings against the accused.

In his testimony before the prosecution, Prime Minister Alberto Otárola maintained that the Peruvian Government did not give an order to shoot and indicated that life should be respected. But he added that the design and implementation of the operational plans were the exclusive responsibility of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces and the National Police. The report on Nicaragua suggests that this allegation will not be more welcome among the rapporteurs who would investigate the Peruvian case. It indicates that the heads of the police and the prison system knew or should have known of the crimes committed by their subordinates. Even in the denied hypothesis that they did not know what happened, they would continue to be responsible because “they did not adopt preventive and sanctioning measures, despite having the effective capacity to do so.”

The protests in Nicaragua were also under scrutiny. (Photo: AFP)

Unlike Peru, the Government of Nicaragua did not ratify the Rome Statute, therefore it does not accept the jurisdiction that the International Criminal Court could have over the individuals involved. But the report notes that any country that has incorporated into its legal system the criminal category of crimes against humanity can prosecute those involved under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

On the other hand, a recent case in El Salvador reveals another side of the issue. At the time, representatives of the Avanza País party requested the approval of an amnesty law in favor of those who could be accused of human rights violations in Peru. In 1993, after a civil war, an amnesty law was approved in El Salvador. But this was repealed in 2016 by a ruling of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice. And, since crimes against immunity do not prescribe, this year criminal proceedings began against those allegedly responsible for the murder of five peasants in 1981.

Peru voted in favor of the mandate of the UN Group of Experts in the case of Nicaragua, we are the country in which the Inter-American Democratic Charter was signed and, when it could not be applied to Venezuela, we were the creators of the Lima Group . Unless one believes that human rights only matter when left-wing governments violate them, Peru would have to accept a possible investigation by independent experts appointed by the UN (who, to avoid official pressure, are not officials of that organization).

Source: Elcomercio

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