Saturday, 15 November 2008

Peru: More on that Amnesty

The words 'military amnesty' just make me go a bit cross-eyed. Here's a another article from IPS illustrating why this is such a bad idea.
The Congresswoman’s [APRA representative Mercedes Cabanillas] proposal would create a pardon committee to release from prison those who -- she argues -- were "unjustly" convicted.

And she knows who these people were, does she?
Aurelio Pastor, spokesman for the APRA legislators, told IPS that the ruling party will back the draft law for a pardon, and may also support the proposed amnesty.

"What we want is for (President Alan García) to receive proposals for pardons for members of the police and military who did not violate human rights and are facing trial or have been sentenced," said Pastor. "This is a measure to strengthen the process of reconciliation. Obviously we aren’t suggesting that those who are guilty be pardoned."

Again, according to who? This seems to be based on the premise that Peru's justice system cannot distinguish between the innocent and the guilty.... but politicians who weren't party to all the evidence can. Peru's judicial system may not be perfect, and then reform is of course a possibility, but the problem is hardly solved by convicting people and then just pardoning them en masse.
Cabanillas and Núñez argue that hundreds of members of the security forces who fought the leftist guerrillas from 1980 to 2000 have been tried and sent to jail "merely on the strength of accusations by the victims."

Really - testimony by the victims convicted these people? Unbelievable.
To illustrate their point, the two legislators cite supposed legal proceedings against the members of the Chavín de Huantar commando, which carried out a spectacular rescue of 72 hostages held for four months by the insurgent Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) in the Japanese ambassador’s residence in 1997.

But both Defence Minister Ántero Flores Aráoz and National Ombudswoman Beatriz Merino clarified that not a single member of the Chavín de Huantar commando has been tried, let alone jailed.

So the APRA members lied to prove their point then.
When Congresswoman Cabanillas was asked in an interview by the press to mention an emblematic case of judicial bias against a member of the security forces who deserved to be pardoned, she was unable to name any single case, and merely said that all of them were important.

It's no laughing matter though. Peru, don't go down the terrible road that Argentina did, and is only just starting to reverse the damage now that its human rights abusers are dying of old age. Publicity and public outrage is one of the best weapons against impunity, so let's hope that Peru's human rights groups are mobilising at this stage while the draft law is still being discussed (from a glance at Aprodeh's web site, they are).

Activists Warn of "Impunity Measures"

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