IACHR Rejects Peru's Constitutional Court Decision to Implement Pardon for Alberto Fujimori

December 8, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) rejects the decision made in Peru to release former president Alberto Fujimori, who had been in prison after being convicted of serious human rights violations. This decision does not comply with the State's international obligations or with decisions made by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

On December 4, Peru's Constitutional Court ordered Alberto Fujimori's immediate release, based on a pardon that had been granted to him in 2017 "for health reasons." The former president had been serving since 2009 a 25-year prison sentence for being the mediate perpetrator of the massacre of 15 people in Barrios Altos, the forced disappearance and execution of 10 students from La Cantuta University, and the abductions of Gustavo Gorriti and Samuel Dyer. In 2022, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered that the State of Peru refrain from implementing the release warrant that followed that pardon, noting that the conditions required for compliance with court rulings in the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta cases had not been met.

Disregarding decisions made by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and in violation of the State's international obligations concerning human rights, Peru's Constitutional Court ordered on December 4, 2023, that former president Fujimori be released from prison. In its resolution of December 5, 2023, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights asked the State of Peru to refrain from implementing this Constitutional Court decision, but Fujimori was released on December 6. The Commission stresses that granting pardons and other exemptions from responsibility to individuals who have been convicted of human rights violations and crimes against humanity may lead to serious impunity. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has said that any legal measures taken to protect a convict's health, life, and integrity must minimize their effect on victims' right to access justice, and that they must only be implemented in very extreme cases where there is an urgent need for them.

The IACHR notes that the State of Peru has ratified the American Convention on Human Rights and recognized the judicial competence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Peru therefore has an obligation to accept the Court's decisions in the exercise of its legitimate power to oversee compliance with its rulings and to issue temporary measures.

Based on the international obligations of the State of Peru, the Court has issued several warrants, including the resolution of December 5, 2023, ordering that the State refrain from implementing this pardon. The IACHR reminds all State authorities of their obligation to perform ex officio conventionality checks within their own powers, taking into consideration the American Convention and the interpretation of that document by its ultimate interpreter, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The IACHR emphatically calls on the State to take effective measures to protect the right to access justice of victims of crimes against humanity, respecting their dignity.

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. 281/23

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