Press Release

IACHR Takes Case Involving Peru to Inter-American Court

December 30, 2011

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court HR) in Case No. 12.444, Eduardo Nicolás Cruz Sánchez et al., (Operation Chavín de Huántar), Peru.

The case deals with the extrajudicial execution of three members of the MRTA during the Operation Chavín de Huántar, through which authorities regained control of the residence of the Ambassador of Japan in Peru – which had been taken by the armed group on December 17, 1996 – and 72 hostages were rescued, in 1997. The three executed persons were under the custody of State agents and, at the time of their execution, did not represent a threat for their captors. After the Operation, the corpses of the 14 MRTA members were sent to the Police Hospital and, without an adequate autopsy, the remains were buried hours later in different cemeteries of the city of Lima, 11 of them as NN. After the complaints presented by family members of some of the extrajudicially executed, an investigation was opened in the civilian jurisdiction in 2002, but the Supreme Court of Justice decided to send the investigation to the military jurisdiction, where it was dismissed in 2004. In the civilian criminal jurisdiction, an investigation was pursued against Vladimiro Montesinos Torres, Nicolás de Bari Hermosa Ríos, Roberto Huamán Azcurra and Jesús Zamudio Aliaga, which is in oral phase.

Regarding the specific facts of the case, the Commission recognizes that Operation Chavín de Huántar, implemented during the years of the internal armed conflict, had the legitimate objective of protecting the lives of the hostages, who had spent over four months inside the residence of the Ambassador of Japan under the control of fourteen members of the MRTA insurgent group. The IACHR is well aware that the kidnapping of diplomats and civilians violates the basic principles of International Humanitarian Law and it is likewise cognizant that the individuals under the MRTA’s control were at constant risk of their lives and personal integrity. In this regard, the Commission has determined in its Report on Terrorism and Human Rights that States have the obligation to protect and guarantee the security of their populations against terrorist actions.

Without detriment to the obligation of the States to protect and guarantee the security of their populations, the Commission deems it important to recall that when adopting such measures, States must comply with their international obligations, including International Human Rights Law. As the Commission has pointed out, “unqualified respect for human rights must be a fundamental part of any anti-subversive strategies, when such strategies have to be implemented,” and this entails respect for the full scope of human rights. The IACHR underscores that the power of the State is not unlimited, nor may it resort to any means to achieve its ends “regardless of the seriousness of certain actions and the culpability of the perpetrators of certain crimes.”

The case was sent to the IA Court HR on December 13, 2011, because the Commission considered that the State had not complied with the recommendations contained in its Report on the Merits. In that report, the IACHR concluded that Peru was responsible for the violation of the right to life to the detriment of Eduardo Nicolás Cruz Sánchez, Herma Luz Meléndez Cueva and Víctor Salomón Peceros Pedraza and the violation of the rights to due process guarantees and judicial protection and the right to personal integrity to the detriment of the next of kin of the executed victims. Fourteen years after the facts, the Peruvian State has not conducted an effective investigation with due diligence on these facts, nor has it determined responsibilities regarding its material and intellectual authors.

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 human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. 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. 137/11