Peru: IACHR expresses concern over constitutional accusations against justice operators and calls for respect for due process guarantees

June 21, 2023

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Washington D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has expressed concern regarding the constitutional accusations against justice operators in Peru. The IACHR emphasizes the need to ensure the right to defense and due process, in order to prevent the weakening of judicial independence.

Based on the information available to the Commission, it has come to IACHR’s attention that the Congress of the Republic has initiated a constitutional accusation against the members of the National Justice Board. Likewise, it has been informed of an ongoing constitutional accusation against the Supreme Prosecutor Zoraida Ávalos. This provision grants the Congress the authority to investigate, adjudicate, and impose sanctions, including suspension, dismissal, and disqualification for up to 10 years, on high-ranking state officials for "constitutional violations."

The IACHR expresses concern regarding the ambiguity of this provision, as neither the law nor the Constitution specifies the punishable behaviors and their corresponding consequences. On repeated occasions, the Commission has emphasized the need to clarify this provision to ensure objectivity and impartiality, while upholding the principles of legality and safeguarding the check and balances system. In this regard, the State has reported that the constitutional accusation is regulated by Articles 99 and 100 of the Political Constitution of Peru. Additionally, it has stated that this figure is a part of Congress' sanctioning function and can be exercised for "purely political responsibilities, even in the absence of a criminal offense."

If these political trials are to be conducted, the Commission emphasizes the utmost importance of rigorously adhering to the guarantees of due process and the right to defense. The State, on its part, has communicated that the constitutional prosecution procedure is regulated within the political constitution itself, and the Regulations of Congress. Furthermore, it has reported that in all proceedings, regardless of whether they take place in jurisdictional, sanctioning administrative, corporate, or parliamentary venues, the right to due process and its essential guarantees are respected and ensured. These guarantees encompass principles such as legality and non-retroactivity, the presumption of innocence, prior and detailed notification of the charges, and the provision of sufficient time and resources to prepare a defense. 

On the other hand, the IACHR emphasizes that, according to Inter-American standards, the guarantees aimed at safeguarding judicial independence should extend not only to judges but also to prosecutors. States are required to ensure stability in their positions, recognizing the fundamental role they play in ensuring access to justice. Consequently, it is crucial to establish an appropriate appointment process for both judges and prosecutors, provide protection against external pressures, and ensure their irremovability from office.

The Inter-American Commission urges the Peruvian State to establish clear and objective parameters for the application of Article 99 of the Political Constitution of Peru. This step is necessary to ensure its compliance with the principles of legality, the right to defense, and due process, in line with inter-American and international standards on this matter.

The IACHR, as a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. Its primary role is to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region, serving as an advisory body to the OAS in this regard. The IACHR consists of seven independent members who are individually elected by the OAS General Assembly, without representing their countries of origin or residence.

No. 129/23

9:20 AM