IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) stresses its concern about the lack of an objective definition of presidential impeachment for permanent moral incompetence in Peru, which may have an impact on the separation of powers and on democratic institutions in the country. The IACHR further expresses its concern about the repeated use of that action and stresses that it should only be applied in contexts that focus on protecting Peru's democratic institutions.
The Commission notes that Article 113 of Peru's Constitution enables the country's Congress to declare the permanent moral incompetence of the individual holding the presidency, and to impeach that individual. The IACHR further states that this procedure has been applied by Congress four times over the past five years: in December 2017, in March 2018, and in September and November 2020 (leading to social protests in the latter case). A fifth attempt was made on November 10, 2021, to declare the permanent moral incompetence of Peru's current president, who was inaugurated in July 2021. This attempt failed on December 7, because it did not get the required number of votes in Congress.
Without prejudice to lengthy domestic constitutional debates on this issue, the IACHR notes that no objective definition has been provided of how a president's permanent moral incompetence may warrant their impeachment. This enables a high degree of discretion that may disrupt the separation and independence of State powers and the ability to govern the country. The IACHR stresses that, in keeping with the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the separation of powers and access to power based on the rule of law are both essential for representative democracy. It is also very important for constitutional oversight mechanisms in the State of Peru to be able to function independently and in a timely manner, so they can decide in each specific case whether the article in the Constitution concerning presidential impeachment is indeed applicable. This is crucial to restrict all discretionary measures incompatible with democracy.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.