IACHR Press Office
Washington, DC—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expressed its deep concern over the decision of the Constitutional Tribunal of Peru issued in an official announcement and reinstating the Supreme Resolution of December 24, 2017, which granted former Peruvian president Alberto Fujimori a humanitarian pardon and ordered his release, after he had been convicted of crimes against humanity. The restitution of this pardon would result in Fujimori's release from prison and the dropping of charges against him, which affects the rights of the victims of crimes against humanity, impacts their access to justice, and jeopardizes their dignity. It also creates obstacles to full compliance with the rulings of the IA Court in the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta v. Peru cases.
On December 30, 2009, Alberto Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison through a sentence confirmed by the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice for the massacre of fifteen people in Barrios Altos and the forced disappearance and execution of ten students from La Cantuta University, as well as the kidnapping of Gustavo Gorriti and Samuel Dyer. The IA Court's rulings in the first two cases and the respective IACHR merits reports held Peru responsible for the violation of the rights to life, personal integrity, and judicial protection, among other rights enshrined in the American Convention. Consequently, it ordered the State to continue investigating, prosecuting, and, where appropriate, sanctioning those responsible for the events in question.
Following the discretionary pardon granted by the Office of the President in 2017, the IA Court ruled on the unlawfulness of this in its resolution supervising compliance in 2018. This argued that once a sentence has been handed down in a criminal trial for gross human rights violations, a subsequent pardon has an even greater impact on victims' right to access to justice. It thus ordered the State to analyze other measures that would allow for the protection of Mr. Fujimori's life and integrity. As a result, and at the request of the victims, the Peruvian Supreme Court of Justice annulled the pardon. In response to the pardon granted to Alberto Fujimori in 2017, the IACHR expressed its deep concern because by overturning the effects of convictions for crimes against humanity and serious human rights violations to Mr. Fujimori's benefit, the Peruvian State failed to comply with the provisions of the IA Court's rulings and disregarded its international obligations. The granting of this pardon did not take into account the specific nature of crimes against humanity or the rights of the victims.
The information received by the IACHR reveals that there are three habeas corpus petitions seeking to reverse the Supreme Court's decision. One of these was filed in response to alleged violations of personal integrity, the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel treatment, and environmental contamination and COVID-19, which was declared inadmissible by the trial court on April 21, 2020.
This decision was confirmed in the second instance by the Superior Court of Justice of Ica, whose ruling of May 22, 2020, states that "a full reading of the claim makes it clear the plaintiff's true intention is for the beneficiary's release to be ordered and for the ruling that declared the humanitarian pardon granted to him null and void to be overturned." On June 1, 2020, the appellant filed a constitutional grievance before the Constitutional Court challenging the second instance decision, as part of the same habeas corpus proceeding. On March 17, the Constitutional Court reported that in a plenary session it had declared the claim to be well-founded.
The IACHR noted that in 2011, the IA Court found that the crimes perpetrated in the La Cantuta case to have been crimes against humanity. Similarly, in 2001, the IA Court deemed the acts committed by the former president in the Barrios Altos case to have been serious human rights violations.
The bodies of the Inter-American Human Rights System have established 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. As a consequence, the IACHR reiterates that the official announcement of the restitution of the effects of the pardon contained in the Supreme Resolution of December 24, 2017, would run counter to the State of Peru's international obligations and highlights the State's obligation to take the necessary measures to restore the rights of the victims that have been affected by this ruling and their families.
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.