Press Release

IACHR Takes Case involving Peru to the Inter-American Court

March 2, 2015

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Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case 12.617, Luis Williams Pollo Rivera with regard to Peru.

The case concerns a series of human rights violations committed to the detriment of Luis Pollo during the time he was in State custody—beginning on November 4, 1992—for the crime of terrorism. Specifically, the Commission concluded that the detention was illegal and arbitrary, as the State failed to meet its obligation to provide detailed information as to the reasons for detaining him, and carried out the detention without judicial oversight. Moreover, the IACHR found that the orders for preventive detention were also arbitrary as they were not based on procedural grounds. It also considered that the State had arbitrarily interfered with his home, since the events transpired during a raid. In addition, the Commission deemed that, under the applicable legal framework, Luis Pollo was kept from filing a habeas corpus petition. Along the same lines, the Inter-American Commission characterized the assaults suffered by Luis Pollo at the time of his arrest and at the facilities of the National Counter-Terrorism Directorate (DINCOTE) as acts of torture. In addition, the conditions under which he was detained violated his right to humane treatment. All of these acts have gone unpunished to this day.

Furthermore, the Commission concluded that the prosecution for the crime of treason and the two prosecutions for the crime of terrorism violated multiple due process guarantees. Basically, the rights that were not guaranteed were the right to be heard by a competent, independent, and impartial tribunal; the right of defense; the right to a presumption of innocence; and the right to a public trial. The Commission also concluded that the State violated the principle of freedom from ex post facto criminal laws by prosecuting and convicting Luis Pollo for providing medical assistance. Finally, the IACHR found that the State violated Luis Pollo’s right to a hearing within a reasonable time following his request for a humanitarian pardon.

In its Merits Report on the case, the Inter-American Commission concluded that the State of Peru is responsible for violating Luis Pollo’s rights to humane treatment and personal liberty; to a fair trial; to freedom from ex post facto laws; to protection of honor, dignity, and private and family life; and to judicial protection. Moreover, the Commission indicated that the State is responsible for violating its obligations to prevent and punish torture. Finally, the Commission considered the State responsible for violating the right to humane treatment of the victim’s next of kin.

The Inter-American Commission submitted Case 12.617 to the Court’s jurisdiction on February 8, 2015, because it deemed that the State of Peru had not complied with the recommendations contained in the Commission’s Merits Report. In that report, the Commission recommended that the State of Peru make adequate reparations for the human rights violations found by the Commission, in the form of both pecuniary and moral damages, including just compensation for the victim’s next of kin and implementation of psychosocial support for them. In addition, the Commission recommended that the State conduct an impartial and effective investigation, within a reasonable period of time, to fully clarify the acts constituting violations of the American Convention established in Section V.D of the report, “The right to humane treatment and the prohibition of torture.” It also recommended that the State identify the perpetrators and masterminds and impose the appropriate punishments, and that it order the necessary administrative, disciplinary, or criminal measures for the actions or omissions of State officials who were instrumental in denying the victims justice and in allowing the violations involved in this case to go unpunished. The Inter-American Commission also asked the State to adopt the necessary measures to avoid a recurrence of similar acts in the future, in keeping with the obligation to guarantee the human rights recognized in the American Convention and prevent them from being violated. Specifically, it asked the State to implement permanent programs in human rights and international humanitarian law in the training academies of the Peruvian National Police Force and the Armed Forces. In addition, the IACHR asked the State to adopt the necessary measures so that health professionals are able to freely exercise their professional duties in Peru, in keeping with applicable international standards, and to publish the Commission’s report in the Official Newspaper or another newspaper with national circulation.

This case will enable the Inter-American Court to expand its case law on the criminalization of legitimate activities such as performing medical acts, a subject it first addressed in the Case of De la Cruz-Flores v. Peru.

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 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.

No. 020/15