IACHR Files Application Before Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Case Concerning Peru

June 8, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed on December 4, 2022, an application before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case concerning the unlawful detention, torture, and extrajudicial killing of Freddy Carlos Alberto Rodríguez Pighi by police officers, with regard to Peru.

Freddy Carlos Alberto Rodríguez Pighi was arrested by mistake in the context of a clash between police officers and a group of thieves. Rodríguez Pighi was circumstantially near the site. According to eyewitnesses, he was beaten up and carried away in the trunk of a police car. On that same day, a police vehicle dropped him off at a hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. His body was found to have several gunshot wounds.

In 1991, the victim's father filed a complaint before the public prosecutor's office to report his son's homicide and, in 1993, three men were convicted of these events, although two of them could not be sentenced because they were on the run. The one suspect who had been convicted was eventually absolved of the homicide of Rodríguez Pighi, although he was convicted of the aggravated homicide of the Gómez Paquiyauri brothers, which happened in these same events.

The decision to absolve the suspect was contested, arguing that the victim's detention and execution had happened on his watch as head of the patrol and that the killing had happened at the same time as those of the Gómez Paquiyauri brothers, of which he was indeed convicted. The Supreme Court of Justice upheld the decision to absolve the suspect.

There was no controversy regarding the fact that the victim had been deprived of liberty and put in the custody of officers of the State and that his death had not been caused by a legitimate use of force. Further, these events happened in the context of a conflict that lasted from 1984 until 1993, where there were many extrajudicial killings of individuals who were suspected to belong to armed groups. The State of Peru is therefore responsible for violations of Rodríguez Pighi's rights to life and humane treatment.

The Peruvian State further violated the victim's right to personal liberty, because he was unlawfully and arbitrarily arrested, without a court warrant and although he had not been caught in the act. The victim was also not notified of the reasons for his arrest or the charges against him, and he was never taken before a judge of competent jurisdiction.

Concerning the victim's rights to judicial guarantees and judicial protection, the Commission found that, since the alleged masterminds of the killing remained at large, it had taken 18 years for one suspect to be arrested, and he was later absolved. There was evidence that the victim's extrajudicial killing had been carried out following orders from higher up the police ranks, but the State failed to investigate this in a diligent and effective way. There has been an unreasonable delay of almost 30 years, and the people responsible for this killing are yet to be convicted and the circumstances of the killing (complete with allegations of torture) are yet to be fully established.

Finally, the Commission found that the killing and torture of Freddy Rodríguez, as well as the failure to investigate it and to punish anyone responsible for it, had caused major pain, anxiety, and uncertainty to his family, in violation of their own right to humane treatment.

The Commission found that the State was responsible for violations of the rights held in Articles 4.1 (life), 5.1 and 5.2 (humane treatment), 7 (personal liberty), 8.1 (fair trial), and 25.1 (judicial protection) of the American Convention, in keeping with the obligations held in Article 1.1 of the same instrument. The IACHR further concluded that the State was liable for violations of Articles 1, 6, and 8 of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture.

The Commission therefore recommended that the State:

  1. Provide material and immaterial reparations to the members of the victim's family who are mentioned in the Merits Report.
  2. Further pursue the relevant criminal investigation and conduct it in a diligent, effective, and timely fashion, with a view to shedding light on these events, identifying anyone who may have been responsible for them, and imposing the relevant punishment (in particular, assess the responsibility of high-ranking officers of Peru's National Police and of the masterminds of these rights violations).
  3. Adopting non-recurrence mechanisms to prevent similar events from happening again in the future and providing training on international human rights standards concerning the use of force by the Police and by judicial officers.

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. 114/23

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