Press Release

IACHR Takes Case involving Peru to the Inter-American Court

February 25, 2014

Washington, D.C. – On January 19, 2014, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) submitted Case No. 11.568, Luis Antonio Galindo Cardenas and Family v. Peru, to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court of HR).

The case involves the illegal and arbitrary detention of then Provisional Judge of the Superior Court of Justice of Huanuco, Luis Antonio Galindo Cardenas, on October 16, 1994, after he voluntarily appeared on the Yanac Military Base, at the request of the Chief of the Military Political Command, who was performing the duties of government in the area under an emergency law in effect at the time. Mr. Galindo Cardenas remained in custody on said Base for 31 days without the Superior Court of Justice of Huanuco being advised and without his detention being subject to any other judicial oversight. Mr. Galindo Cardenas was first placed in solitary confinement and was then subjected to serious restrictions on communication.

The Commission found that Mr. Galindo was not informed of the reasons for his detention or of the charges that were leveled against him, nor did not have the opportunity to adequately mount his defense. The circumstances of his detention prevented Mr. Galindo Cardenas from requesting any effective judicial review of his deprivation of liberty. Said circumstances led the Commission to find a violation of the aforementioned procedural and substantive due process rights and to declare that the overall conditions of detention constituted cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of the victim.

The Commission also concluded that the Peruvian State was responsible for violation of the principle of legality and the right to freedom from ex post facto laws, because it criminalized legal advocacy, specifically, providing a technical defense, arbitrarily applying Article 4 of Decree Law 25475 on acts of collaboration with terrorists. The Commission concluded that the violations described above have remained in impunity, inasmuch as the State did not opened any investigation into the facts of the case when authorities became aware of them.

The Inter-American Commission referred the case to the Inter-American Court in response to the failure of the Peruvian State to comply with the recommendations. After serving the State with a copy of the merits report, it did open an investigation, which as of the present date has not yielded any substantive progress. The other recommendations, particularly, those pertaining to full reparation being provided to the victim, have not been fulfilled either by the State. The Commission had recommended ordering full reparation to Mr. Galindo Cardenas for the human rights violations declared in the report; conducting an impartial and effective investigation within a reasonable period of time in order to thoroughly clarify the acts violating the American Convention; identifying the masterminds and actual perpetrators and imposing the appropriate punishments on them; ordering administrative, disciplinary and criminal measures, as appropriate, for acts and omissions of state officials, who contributed to the denial of justice and impunity for the crimes of the case. Additionally, because the IACHR has established that the proceeding against Mr. Galindo, a judge at that time, was conducted illegally and arbitrarily, and involved acts that could not give rise to criminal liability, the Commission recommended that the State repeal the Decree for Repentance of Terrorism and its legal effects.

The Case of Mr. Galindo Cardenas raises the issue of criminalization of a legitimate activity, such as practicing legal advocacy, particularly, assisting individuals, who have been criminally prosecuted for the crime of terrorism, in mounting their technical defense. In referring the case to the Inter-American Court, the Commission believes that the Court’s ruling on the prohibition of criminalizing legal assistance in mounting a technical defense of an individual, will provide an opportunity to flesh out new legal precedents and help to set limits on the States so that anti-terrorist laws, policies and practices adopted by them do not lead to the criminalization of legitimate activities.

Lastly, the Commission also noted that the instant case will provide the Court with an opportunity to expand its legal precedents on substantive and procedural fair trial and due process rights, as provided for under Articles 7 and 8 of the Convention, in the specific context of repentance laws or the equivalent thereof. The Commission noted that this analysis is particularly relevant in view of the fact that this type of repentance law and legal provisions similar to it are common in the legal systems of States endeavoring to confront terrorism and other serious crimes.

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 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. 19/14