Press Release

IACHR Takes Case Involving Peru to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

October 6, 2014

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) filed an application with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Court) in case 12,482 - Valdemir Quispialaya Vilcapoma concerning Peru.

This case concerns the violation of Valdemir Quispialaya Vilcapoma’s right to humane treatment, when on January 23, 2001 he was struck by a noncommissioned officer because of mistakes he had made during firing practice while in the military service.  The blow was delivered with the butt of a firearm to the victim’s forehead and eye, and resulted in the victim’s loss of vision in his right eye.  In its Merits Report, the Commission concluded that these acts are part of a pattern of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that the Peruvian Ombudsperson’s Office found on military installations and that can be traced to a deeply engrained and mistaken interpretation of military discipline.  The Commission also concluded that the State did not provide effective remedies to the victim and his next of kin, as the competent authorities failed to institute an official investigation; nor were the necessary measures taken to preserve the object and purpose of the criminal process, despite the fact that Valdemir Quispialaya Vilcapoma repeatedly complained of threats against him and others who had witnessed the events; the case has been within the military jurisdiction for almost seven years, and has dragged on for an unreasonable period of time.  In short, the Commission concluded that no one has been made to answer for the events in this case.

The Inter-American Commission submitted case 12.482 to the Court’s jurisdiction on August 5, 2014, after concluding that the Peruvian State had failed to comply with the recommendations contained in its Merits Report.  In that report, the Commission had recommended to the Peruvian State, inter alia, that the investigation be reopened; that it be an impartial and effective investigation, conducted within a reasonable period of time and for the purpose of clarifying the facts, identifying the author(s) and imposing the penalties prescribed by law; that adequate material and moral reparations be made, including just compensation; that human rights training materials be developed and regular courses on human rights be established, with particular emphasis on the boundaries of military discipline that comport with the obligations undertaken by the State upon ratifying international human rights instruments; that efficient mechanisms be instituted so that those performing their military service are able to report cases of mistreatment or abuse, and that will ensure observance of the rules of due process and eliminate the possibility of any type of reprisals on the part of the aggressors; and that the judicial branch’s authority be strengthened to enable it to properly and efficiently investigate complaints of torture and violations of personal integrity filed by young people performing their military service.

This case will give the Inter-American Court an opportunity to address incidents of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, committed against persons doing their military service and thus subject to concepts like “military discipline.”   This case will also be an opportunity to establish standards for ensuring independent and impartial mechanisms for control of and accountability for events that take place inside military installations that may constitute violations of the right to humane treatment.

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. 112/14