Washington, D.C.—As the first Latin American pope, and one who has pushed for the pursuit of truth and justice in his native Argentina and in Uruguay, Pope Francis’ visit to Peru from January 18-21 takes place amid heightened political tensions and massive protests, sparked by President Pedro Kuczynski’s pardoning of dictator Alberto Fujimori on Christmas Eve.
Kuczynski’s pardon of Fujimori has been interpreted as a bargain meant to ensure the president’s short-term political survival in the face of a looming impeachment process. International human rights groups have widely condemned the move for obstructing justice for the victims of Fujimori’s human rights crimes. The move has sparked widespread protests in Peru and in cities around the world. The families of Fujimori’s victims have convened a nationwide protest on January 11 to demand the revocation of the pardon.
In anticipation of Pope Francis’ pastoral visit, human rights advocacy group the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) is holding a press conference call with WOLA Senior Fellow Jo-Marie Burt, an internationally recognized expert on Peru, who was heavily involved in monitoring Fujimori’s landmark trial and conviction in 2009. WOLA Senior Fellow Coletta Youngers will give brief introductory remarks during the call, explaining the role that WOLA played in holding the Fujimori government accountable for human rights atrocities during the 1990s.
The press conference call will discuss the following issues, among others:
- The ramifications of Pope Francis’ visit to Peru now, in the wake of Kuczynski’s pardon of Fujimori, and the outcry by victims and civil society, who have struggled for years to secure truth and justice for those who suffered from massacres, kidnappings, and other abuses during the Fujimori government.
- How the pardon of Fujimori does not comply with the requirements for a humaniarian pardon in Peruvian law and in international law, and what are the prospects for the pardon’s reversal in Peruvian courts or in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
- How Fujimori’s pardon obstructs truth and justice for victims of human rights crimes, given Fujimori’s refusal to admit to the crimes for which he was convicted, his failure to publicly ask for forgiveness for those crimes, and his refusal to pay the reparations to the victims as required by his 2009 conviction..
- How Pope Francis’ own life experience in Argentina and his support as pope for Argentina’s efforts toward truth and justice for victims of state terrorism in that country may shape his message at this time of crisis in Peru.
WHEN: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 at 2 p.m. EST, via conference call.
- WOLA Senior Fellow Jo-Marie Burt, a leading expert on state violence, human rights, and transitional justice in Peru. She has written extensively on Peru and on the landmark 2009 Fujimori human rights trial, and is currently associate professor of political science at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.
To join in, please dial 1-800-201-6394 if you are in the United States or Canada. For international callers, please see this list of toll-free numbers, or use +1 202-800-9984 if you are unable to connect or your country is not listed. Please reference the Conference ID “114029” to join the call.
The discussion will be held in English and will be followed by a Q&A session that will be held in English and Spanish.
Please RSVP to the right.