Peru Must Respect the Applicable Standards on the Use of Force and Protect Freedom of Expression During Social Protests, the IACHR and Its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression Say

August 3, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – In the context of the protests that are ongoing in Peru, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression urge the State to respect inter-American standards on the use of force and to protect freedom of expression, in line with the recommendations made in a recent country report.

Over the period July 19–30, Peru has experienced a series of protests that seek to build on the demands of demonstrations in the political and social crisis that started on December 7, 2022. In the latest demonstrations, civil society organizations denounced the indiscriminate use of pellets and gas, as well as allegedly arbitrary arrests by officers of the Terna Group of Peru's National Police (PNP) who were wearing plain clothes.

By July 30, the Ombudsperson's Office had recorded 18 people injured, including civilians and PNP officers. The Public Prosecutor's Office said that 10 individuals had been arrested. The National Association of Journalists reported attacks against seven journalists, one of whom was injured while reporting live while another alleged that he had been expelled by law enforcement officers from the area where he was covering events, allegedly for not being formally registered as a journalist.

The State said that it had taken institutional measures to protect the right to protest, in strict application of the guidelines held in the act that regulates the use of force by the PNP; in the administrative and operational guidelines applicable to efforts to control, maintain, and restore public order; and in the three protocols adopted in March 2023 to protect individuals' exercise of their human rights and to provide timely assistance in social protest contexts. The State also said that Directive 13-2023 on the PNP had been adopted on July 19, "to ensure an appropriate use of non-lethal or less lethal police instruments in police operations to control, maintain, and restore public order," in order to ensure that all police operations protect human rights with a gender perspective and an intercultural approach. The State further reported that medical checkpoints had been set up during protests and that various initiatives had also been implemented to enable the exercise of journalism. The State provided information about the actions it had taken to prevent and investigate crimes, in keeping with the guidelines of the Public Prosecutor's Office. It noted that an investigation had been launched following allegations of injuries and other crimes, including crimes committed against journalists.

However, given the allegations that have been made, the IACHR reminds the State of its duty to generally refrain from using force in public demonstration contexts, in compliance with the applicable inter-American standards. The potentially excessive use of force must be investigated urgently and with due diligence, while secure information channels must be preserved to adequately identify the chain of command and the application of orders issued by law enforcement agencies.

The Commission also urges the State to adopt specific public policies to prevent, investigate, and punish violence against journalists, in a way that protects their safety and protects them from arbitrary arrests and from threats and restrictions of any kind affecting their exercise of journalism (including the requirement of formal registration as a journalist, which is not compatible with the applicable inter-American standards).

Finally, the Inter-American Commission reminds all authorities in Peru that overcoming this crisis will require, at the highest level, the design and implementation of a genuine dialogue strategy with an ethnic and territorial approach that makes it possible to listen to all groups within Peruvian society. In this context, the IACHR appreciates the willingness expressed by the State to comply with the recommendations made in the report Situation of human rights in the context of social protests in Peru.

The Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression is an office created by the IACHR to promote the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the Americas, considering the fundamental role that right plays in the consolidation and development of all democratic systems.

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. 174/23

6:15 PM