On December 14, 2010, Peruvian Vice President Luis Giampietri accused several of the country's prestigious human rights organizations of defending terrorists and of being front groups for subversive organizations. The Vice President, acting in his role as a member of Peru's congress, subsequently ordered an inquiry into the funding sources and expenditures of these organizations.
The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is deeply concerned that Vice President Giampietri's utterly false charge represents a new attempt to intimidate and silence human rights defenders in Peru.
"WOLA emphatically rejects these utterly baseless charges," said John Walsh, WOLA Senior Associate. "All of these institutions are internationally respected human rights organizations that have labored for nearly three decades documenting and denouncing human rights abuses – regardless of the perpetrator – and promoting respect for the rule of law in Peru."
The Vice President made his accusation in the wake of the publication of a U.S. Government cable released by WikiLeaks that reports on a 2006 conversation in which a former head of Peru's National Intelligence Directorate (DINI), retired rear-admiral Julio Raygada, accuses the non-governmental human rights groups Instituto de Defensa Legal (IDL) and Justicia Viva of engaging in propaganda in favor of the Shining Path.
Giampietri used Raygada's charge – a baseless claim for which no evidence whatsoever was provided – as the pretext for his latest round of attacks against IDL, Justicia Viva, and another rights organization, the Asociación Pro-Derechos Humanos (APRODEH). The Vice President claims that these groups "defend terrorists" and are "front groups for subversive organizations."
This is not the first time that Vice President Giampietri has accused Peru's non-governmental human rights organizations of acting on behalf of subversive groups. "It seems no coincidence that Vice President Giampietri is aiming to intimidate precisely those organizations that are at the forefront of the effort to prosecute state agents, including military and police officers, who committed grave rights abuses in the context of Peru's internal armed conflict (1980-2000)," says WOLA Senior Fellow and George Mason University professor Jo-Marie Burt. IDL and APRODEH represent victims of the 1986 El Frontón prison massacre, a case in which Giampietri, a navy captain who was one of the two officers in charge of the operation, has been called as a witness.
"The Vice President's attacks are not only baseless, but also profoundly irresponsible, to the point of potentially endangering the safety of Peru's human rights defenders," continued Burt. "WOLA calls upon the Peruvian government to expressly and categorically denounce the Vice President's latest accusations and to ensure the safety of human rights defenders in Peru."
WOLA Communications Coordinator
WOLA Senior Associate
WOLA Senior Fellow and George Mason University Professor