IACHR Condemns Decisions That Violate the Constitutional Order in Peru and Calls to Protect Governance

December 8, 2022

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns decisions that violate the constitutional order in Peru, acknowledges the democratic response given by the State's institutions in that context, and calls to ensure governance while preserving the rule of law.

On December 7, then Peruvian President Pedro Castillo expressed in a message to the country his decision to dissolve Congress and appoint an emergency government that ruled through executive orders. He also announced a curfew and a move to restructure the judiciary, including the constitutional court, the public prosecutor's office, and the National Board of the Judiciary.

The Commission notes that this plan ignored the requirements of Article 134 of the country's constitution, concerning the unilateral dissolution of Congress. Castillo also suspended constitutional rights linked to freedom of movement and freedom of association without specifying any criteria, and he unilaterally ordered a reorganization of the judiciary as a whole.

Domestically, this decision was denounced as a coup by some institutions in other branches of government. The decision was rejected, among others, by the Constitutional Court, the Ombudsperson's Office, the Chair of the Judiciary, the Attorney General, the Public Prosecutor's Office, the National Police, and the Armed Forces. Congress further decided to impeach the president and triggered a constitutional succession that left former Vice President Dina Boluarte as Peru's new president.

The Commission commends Peru's institutions on their immediate action in defense of democracy, to prevent the realization of an institutional breakup, and stresses that democracy needs to be protected by the rule of law. The Charter of the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, along with various other international instruments, stress that respect for human rights, access to and the exercise of power in strict compliance with the rule of law, the holding of periodic, free, and fair elections, and the separation of powers and independence of the branches of government are all essential elements of democracy, crucial to achieve stability, peace, and development in the Americas.

Freedom of expression is another essential element of a democratic society. In the current context, the IACHR calls for solid guarantees of the work done by journalists and human rights defenders, which is essential to ensure that citizens are informed of matters of public interest and to ground public opinion. All people must be allowed to demonstrate freely, individually or in groups. Demonstrations and other expressions in favor of democracy must enjoy the highest possible level of protection, as noted by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

The IACHR notes that Peru has had a series of constitutional crises that will continue for as long as constitutional concepts including the unilateral dissolution of Congress, presidential impeachment based on the permanent moral incompetence of the individual holding the presidency, and constitutional impeachment are not objectively defined. The State must persist in its efforts to ensure the country's governance and make sure that clashes between the different branches of government will not affect governance and the protection of human rights.

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. 269/22

12:18 PM