Washington, D.C.—Today, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) in San José, Costa Rica will hold a public hearing on President Pedro Kuczynski’s highly controversial humanitarian pardon of former President Alberto Fujimori, which international legal experts say could potentially prompt a reversal of the pardon. The ex-president’s 2009 conviction for grave human rights violations was widely hailed as a historic precedent for international justice, and his recent release from prison sparked intense protests across Peru. According to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), given previous rulings by the IACHR that amnesties, pardons, and other mechanisms designed to guarantee impunity for serious human rights abuses are a violation of international law, there is a strong legal argument to be made in favor of reversing Fujimori’s pardon on that basis.
“The victims of abuses ordered by Fujimori are still struggling to secure truth and justice after enduring kidnappings, massacres, and other horrors. This pardon is an affront to the survivors and families of victims,” says Jo-Marie Burt, who was heavily involved in monitoring Fujimori’s landmark trial and conviction in 2009. “This pardon isn’t just a cynical deal meant to buy President Kuczynski’s political survival. It is a violation of international law. If Peru is serious about living up to its international obligations, then it must abide by binding rulings issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.”
Two of the cases which resulted in Fujimori’s conviction—the Barrios Altos massacre, in which 15 civilians were assassinated by a Fujimori-controlled death squad, and the La Cantuta disappearances, in which nine students and a professor disappeared and later executed at the hands of that same death squad—were previously heard by the IACHR in 2001 and 2006, respectively. The court ordered the Peruvian government to investigate, prosecute, and sanction those responsible for the abuses. After the February 2 hearing in Costa Rica, the IACHR is expected to issue its decision on whether Fujimori’s pardon violates its rulings on the Barrios Altos and La Cantuta cases within two to three weeks.
There is also the question of whether Fujimori’s pardon violates Peruvian law. Fujimori is currently on trial for involvement in the 1992 massacre of six civilians, known as the Pativilca case. However, in addition to the humanitarian pardon, Kuczynski approved a derecho de gracia (right to pardon) to Fujimori, which is intended to protect him from future prosecutions, a move which local human rights groups are challenging in court as illegal and unconstitutional.
“There are so many serious irregularities surrounding the Fujimori pardon that it’s really no surprise that almost as soon as it was announced, it faced challenges in Peruvian courts and the international human rights court as well,” said Burt. “The victims of Fujimori’s human rights crimes deserve truth and justice. The reversal of this illegal and unjustified pardon is absolutely essential to secure that.”
See the international organizations, civil society groups, and others who have stated their opposition to the Fujimori pardon here.
For more on the Fujimori pardon and the legal challenges mounted to it, click here.
For more on the historic 2009 conviction of Alberto Fujimori, click here.
WOLA Communications Assistant
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