Press Release

The IACHR Calls on the State of Peru to Protect Democratic Institutions and the Rule of Law After President’s Impeachment

November 11, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is concerned about Martín Vizcarra’s removal from the position of president in Peru. The IACHR urges Peruvian authorities to protect democratic institutions, which are essential to preserve the rule of law and respect for human rights in the country.

Through Resolution 001-2020-2021-CR of November 9, 2020, Peru’s Congress impeached Vizcarra with 105 votes in favor, 19 votes against, and 4 abstentions. According to this resolution, the decision was based on Vizcarra’s permanent moral incompetence, in keeping with Paragraph 2 in Article 113 of Peru’s Political Constitution. The IACHR notes that the motion to remove Vizcarra from office was based on a still ongoing investigation in the criminal justice system. While the IACHR rejects all acts of corruption because they affect the enjoyment and exercise of human rights, such acts need to be investigated, tried, and punished in strict compliance with the judicial safeguards of due process in criminal justice proceedings.

The Commission notes that this is the second impeachment procedure against Vizcarra in 2020 for this “permanent moral incompetence,” and that the lack of an objective definition of this term enables a high degree of discretion that could erode democratic institutions. The IACHR stresses that, within the inter-American system, access to power and the exercise of power based on the rule of law are both essential for representative democracy. Along these lines, the Commission has noted that removing a democratically and constitutionally elected individual from office should not be up to the political discretion of Congress or Parliament and should instead require proof of some of the specific crimes and offenses detailed in the Constitution.

Following Vizcarra’s removal from office, Congress Speaker Manuel Merino was appointed Peru’s new president on November 10. The IACHR calls on the Peruvian State to ensure the separation of powers by enforcing the country’s checks and balances to enable effective control among the various branches of government, in compliance with inter-American standards. As noted by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, “in a democratic society, the rights and freedoms inherent in the human person, the guarantees applicable to them and the rule of law form a triad. Each component thereof defines itself, complements and depends on the others for its meaning.”

In a country that is facing major challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the IACHR calls on the Peruvian State to resolve its current political crisis as soon as possible, in compliance with inter-American standards and while protecting the rule of law, representative democracy, and human rights. The Commission urges Peruvian authorities to hold free and fair general elections on the dates for which they have been scheduled.

Finally, the IACHR notes the demonstrations that have taken place in Peru’s current political situation. The Commission reminds the State of its international obligations to enable peaceful protests and to protect the human rights of demonstrators, as well as to enforce inter-American standards on the use of force in protest contexts.

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. 270/20