IACHR

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IACHR Takes Case involving Peru to the Inter-American Court

November 22, 2016

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María Isabel Rivero
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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 joined cases 11.053, 11.054, 12.224, 12.225, and 12.823—Wilfredo Terrones Silva, Teresa Díaz Aparicio, Santiago Antezana Cueto, Néstor Rojas Medina, and Cory Clodolia Tenicela Tello—with regard to Peru.

The cases involve the forced disappearances of Wilfredo Terrones Silva (since August 26, 1992), Teresa Díaz Aparicio (since August 19, 1992), Santiago Antezana Cueto (since May 7, 1984), Néstor Rojas Medina (since January 26, 1991), and Cory Clodolia Tenicela Tello (since October 2, 1992). The events in question took place in the context of a systematic and widespread practice of forced disappearance as part of the Peruvian State’s anti-terrorism efforts, especially during those years. The State provided no information on alternative hypotheses to forced disappearance of persons, and most of the cases remain in total impunity. The fate or whereabouts of all the victims remain unknown, which means their forced disappearance is an ongoing crime.

In its Merits Report on these cases, the Commission recommended that the State investigate thoroughly, impartially, and effectively the whereabouts of Wilfredo Terrones Silva, Teresa Díaz Aparicio, Santiago Antezana Cueto, Néstor Rojas Medina, and Cory Clodolia Tenicela Tello and, as necessary, adopt the measures needed to identify and hand over their remains to their family members, in keeping with their wishes. In addition, Peru should conduct the appropriate proceedings for the crime of forced disappearance of four victims and for the crimes of torture and forced disappearance of Santiago Antezana Cueto—impartially, effectively, and within a reasonable time—for the purpose of clarifying the facts completely, identifying all those responsible, and imposing the sanctions that are in order. The State should also make adequate reparation for the violations of human rights, in both material and non-material terms, including fair compensation; determine and disseminate the historical truth about what happened; and implement an adequate program to serve the needs of the victims’ family members, in consultation with them and in keeping with their specific needs.

The Commission also determined that the State of Peru should adopt the necessary measures of non-repetition to prevent similar events from occurring in the future. In particular, it should strengthen its institutional capacity to investigate cases of forced disappearance of persons that occurred in the framework of the internal armed conflict to ensure that they are investigated with due diligence, in a reasonable time, and taking into account the context in which they took place as well as the criminal patterns and specific modus operandi that characterized them. The IACHR also requested that the State reform its criminal legislation so as to ensure that forced disappearance of persons is defined in a manner that meets inter-American standards. Both the Commission and the Court have called for a change in the definition of this type of crime many times before, without compliance from the State.

The Inter-American Commission submitted the case to the Court’s jurisdiction on November 9, 2016, because it deemed that Peru had not complied with the recommendations contained in the Commission’s Merits Report.

This case will enable the Court to continue developing its case law on forced disappearance of persons and on how a State should respond in terms of investigation and compensation, particularly when the disappearance was a consequence of a systematic and widespread practice. Given the relevance of context in this case for purposes of proving forced disappearance, the Commission believes that the case could be conducive to the development of case law in this area. In addition, given the absence of concrete information on a plan to search for the victims, the case also offers the Court an opportunity to consider specific international standards on that subject.

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. 174/16