Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Ruling from the Supreme Tribunal of Pretrial Investigation of the Supreme Court of Justice of Peru to Repeal the Fujimori Pardon

October 5, 2018

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Boulder, Colorado – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the decision made by the Supreme Tribunal of Pretrial Investigation of the Supreme Court of Justice of Peru, which ruled to repeal the supreme resolution granting a presidential pardon to former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori. This is a major step forward for the victims of grave human rights violations who are fighting to defend their rights to memory, truth, and justice.

On December 24, 2017, then-president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski pardoned Fujimori, who had been condemned to 25 years in prison by the Supreme Court for crimes against humanity. The pardon was granted on “humanitarian grounds.” In its ruling, the Supreme Tribunal of Pretrial Investigation stated that the presidential ruling was incompatible with the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights and was thus not legally binding.

The IACHR and the Inter-American Court have ruled on cases of grave human rights violations in which Alberto Fujimori played the role of intermediary, including the massacre of 15 people in Barrios Altos and the forced disappearance and execution of ten students and a professor from La Cantuta University. Indeed, at the hearing to supervise compliance with these cases, the IACHR reiterated its position to the court, namely that granting any kind of pardon for these human rights violations is impossible; that any presidential pardon should be proportionate to victims’ rights; and that reconciliation and transitional justice should not be confused with arbitrary decisions prompted by political dealings.

In its resolution of May 30, 2018, the Inter-American Court urged the state of Peru to provide information on the progress being made by the constitutional jurisdiction on monitoring the pardon that Fujimori was granted for humanitarian reasons. This monitoring focuses on compliance with the obligation to investigate, prosecute, and sanction the grave human rights violations listed in the sentences for the two cases mentioned above.

In his conclusions, Supreme Court Justice Hugo Nuñes Julca said that “reviewing laws for compliance is the most appropriate and powerful mechanism for ensuring that the Inter-American convention is upheld within the domestic law of each member state” and that Peru should comply with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights’ decisions in the rulings to supervise compliance with the obligation to investigate, prosecute, and, where necessary, sanction those responsible for grave human rights violations.”

Both the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights have acknowledged that the granting of undue benefits when enforcing sentences can result in a form of impunity, especially in the case of grave human rights violations. The IACHR has also stressed that international law forbids the application of amnesties, pardons, and other legal mechanisms to absolve people who have been found guilty of crimes against humanity.
In connection with this, Commissioner Antonia Urrejola Noguera, who leads the Memory, Truth, and Justice unit, stated that “the impunity of those who have committed crimes against humanity is a violation of the rights of victims and their families. By repealing the pardon, the Court is acknowledging not only its obligation to sanction those responsible for such crimes but is also sending a message of respect and recognition to those who fell victim to grave human rights violations.”

Commissioner Joel Hernández, the rapporteur for Peru, stated that “the incompatibility of the presidential pardon with the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights was one of the main arguments used by the Supreme Court of Peru. This ruling is another example of how the inter-American system provides support for civil society’s fight to defend memory, truth, and justice.”

Crimes against humanity are crimes that infringe upon the general principles of law, are a source of concern for the international community, a grave insult to human dignity, and flagrantly deny the fundamental principles set out in the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, and thus must not go unsanctioned.

The IACHR wishes to reiterate its standards regarding the conditions in which people can be deprived of their freedom, which includes provisions for watching over prisoners’ health. The existence of grave, nonterminal illness may merit the transfer of the prisoner to hospital facilities for as long as their state of health so requires without this affecting victims’ right to justice.

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.

No. 219/18