UN Human Rights Office calls for meaningful reforms to guarantee right to peaceful protest, ensure inclusive dialogue in Peru
GENEVA (19 October 2023) – Peruvian authorities must undertake meaningful reforms to ensure the exercise of human rights in the context of demonstrations, continue accountability efforts, and enable a decentralized and inclusive national dialogue, states a UN Human Rights Office report published on Thursday.
The report analyses the conduct of security forces during nationwide protests, focusing on those that took place between December 2022 and March 2023. It concludes that Peruvian authorities unduly restricted demonstrators’ human rights.
Security forces used unnecessary and disproportionate force, including lethal force, outside of the circumstances permitted by international human rights standards, the report states. It also documents the use of less lethal weapons, incompatible with international standards, that resulted in protesters being seriously and, in some cases, fatally injured.
The UN Human Rights Office recorded that 50 people were killed and 821 injured in the context of protests from 7 December 2022 to 31 March 2023, allegedly by security forces. The Office also documented that 208 members of the security forces were injured.
Criminal investigations were opened against 241 people who took part in the demonstrations. Of these, at least 221 have since been closed due to lack of evidence. This includes 192 people who had been arrested in San Marcos University in Lima on 21 January.
In April 2023, the authorities set up a dedicated team within the Public Prosecutor’s Office to investigate alleged crimes committed in the context of the protests. The Office is providing technical assistance to the team. The team has opened 45 case files covering all people killed, as well as people injured in the protests.
“Those responsible for human rights violations must be held accountable, through fair judicial proceedings,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said. “Accountability is paramount if we want to start healing wounds and creating trust in the institutions of the State. Victims should be provided with full reparation.”
The Government has provided economic support to victims and their families – some 266 people to date –identified with the support of the UN Human Rights Office.
From 19 to 31 July 2023, another wave of demonstrations took place across Peru, during which 64 protesters and 12 officers were injured. Indigenous communities were also subjected to multiple acts of discrimination and restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly, the report notes.
The report provides recommendations to promote structural changes and reforms to guarantee the right to peaceful assembly and ensure that any use of force must be compatible with international human rights law. The report also recommends strengthening internal accountability mechanisms, ensuring victim-centred, impartial and effective investigations, and addressing the deep-rooted and systemic problems of racism and discrimination against Indigenous Peoples and campesinos, who comprised the majority of the protesters.
“It is paramount that the grievances and concerns across the whole spectrum of the Peruvian society are addressed. An inclusive national dialogue is needed. This is the only way forward. Everyone needs to feel heard and represented in society to stop endless political and social crises,” Türk said. “I look forward to continued cooperation with the Peruvian authorities and society at large for these purposes.