Treatment of relatives of suspected or known members of the Shining Path or the MRTA, particularly cases of arrest, torture, imprisonment or release on condition to provide information (1993-2000) [PER36193.E]

References to arrest or imprisonment of relatives of suspected or known members of terrorist groups in Peru were found mostly in reports published in or around the mid-1990s.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) report Presumption of Guilt refers to the 1993 arrest of two brothers of a man being sought, Jose Antonio Cantoral Benavides, by agents of the Anti-Terrorism directorate DINCOTE (Aug. 1996, Section IV.B). The report adds:

DINCOTE arrested Luis Alberto Cantoral Benavides and his twin brother Luis Fernando in their home on February 6, 1993, while searching for another brother, José Antonio, who was wanted for treason. Although no information indicated that the twins were members of the Shining Path, both were charged with treason. In August 1993, the Supreme Council of Military Justice sentenced Luis Fernando to twenty-five years, but absolved Luis Alberto and ordered him released. However, a faceless navy judge mistakenly ordered Luis Fernando released instead of Luis Alberto, who was kept in prison. Six weeks later, the Supreme Council of Military Justice ordered the case transferred to the civilian courts on the grounds that new evidence had emerged which the military court had not considered.
This "new evidence" consisted of police hand-writing tests done on documents found in the Cantoral home which police accused Luis Alberto of writing. These documents and the handwriting analysis had been in police custody previously, but for unknown reasons, was not presented during the treason trial. Cantoral's lawyers impugned the tests, claiming to have shown conclusively that the only document found which was legible enough to permit analysis was not written by Cantoral. On October 10, 1994, a faceless chamber of the Supreme Court sentenced Cantoral to twenty years of imprisonment. The court exceeded its authority by pronouncing on facts, such as the ownership of the documents, which had already been considered by the military court, which had concluded they did not belong to Cantoral. The Supreme Court also mistakenly referred to Luis Alberto as being known by an alias which in fact was attributed throughout the trial not to him, but to his other brother José Antonio. On October 6, 1995, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal and confirmed the sentence (ibid.).

In another report, The Two Faces of Justice: Prosecution of Terrorism and Treason Cases, HRW refers to the case of "seventy-four-year-old Celia Valenzuela, who police accused of helping guerrillas in March 1994 because she gave a visitor money to buy medicines for Valenzuela's two sons, in prison for Shining Path activities" as being a typical example of the security forces', particularly the anti-terrorism police (Dirección Nacional Contra el Terrorismo-DINCOTE), "expanded power to investigate terrorism suspects and formulate a criminal charge" (July 1995). The report adds that "in practice, police often ignore sparse or problematic evidence and charge individuals who have no real participation in guerrilla activities" (ibid.).

Two other HRW reports, the 1995 Global Report on Women's Human Rights (Section 1) and the September 1996 Asylum Policies, Procedures and Practices, also provide examples of families of alleged members of terrorist groups being implicated or affected by actions of the security forces, although only one of these refers to a case occurring within the period in question:

[Napoleon Aponte Inga], a native of Huanuco, left Peru to begin his studies in the Soviet Union in 1984, where he remained until 1994. During this time, several of his family members took part in public political activities in Peru. A brother, Ricardo, took part in protests against police abuses. His activities resulted in his arrest and severe torture, followed by the arrest and torture of two younger brothers, Horacio and Raul. Aponte's sister, Rosa, was accused of belonging to the Communist Party of Peru-Shining Path and was killed while incarcerated in 1992. His other siblings, including Ricardo, Horacio and Raul, as well as his parents, fled Peru for Sweden, where they sought asylum and received permission to stay, some as de facto refugees and others on family reunification grounds. While in Europe, Aponte was accused by the Peruvian government of being a member of a Shining Path support network, a charge Aponte denies (HRW Sept 1996).

In a November 1995 report, Amnesty International cites the case of a woman arrested and held in prison for 13 months under charges of terrorism "solely because her sister was a well-known member of the PCP [Shining Path]" (Section 3.1). Although the initial arrest was reported in 1991, her release took place in 1993:

...A 38-year-old psychologist, she was first arrested in June 1991, but released after two weeks due to lack of evidence. However, the judge who dealt with her case stated in his report:
"Even if it is certain from police investigations that she does not belong to the Shining Path leadership, nor to the rest of its component parts... even if it is certain that no subversive material was found in her possession... it must also be taken into account that, being the sister of Yovanka Pardavé Trujillo who is awaiting trial, and there being a close connection with the latter, one cannot rule out the possibility that she is familiar with the terrorist actions that her sister carried out, and therefore of collaborating with her in an indirect way."
A few months later, in May 1992, Darnilda Pardavé's sister was killed by the security forces at Miguel Castro Castro Prison, Lima, along with at least 35 other inmates, during an operation by the security forces to reimpose control over prison wings run by the PCP.
Darnilda Pardavé was arrested again in October 1992, during a mass round-up of people suspected of having links with the PCP. She was held in Chorrillos Prison, a high-security prison for women accused of "terrorism". Darnilda Pardavé was released at the end of October 1993 (ibid.).

Additional information on sample cases and description of actions by judicial and law enforcement agents towards suspected or alleged members of terrorist groups can be found in the above-cited July 1995 and August 1996 HRW reports, and various annual human rights reports available at Regional Documentation Centres. These also hold reports and news articles that refer to the establishment of an Ad Hoc commission in October 1996 that reviewed until 1999 hundreds of cases of possible wrongful conviction, subsequently releasing many but not all of those who had "credible claims of innocence" (International Herald Tribune 18 July 2000). Some of these reports cite specific examples; one, for example, cites the case of a man "pardoned" after being held in prison for five years when he was "picked up by the terrorism police in November 1992 because police suspected his girlfriend's brother of being connected to the Maoist Shining Path rebel group" (Christian Science Monitor 5 Mar. 1998).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


Amnesty International (AI), London. November 1995. Women in Peru: Rights in Jeopardy. (REFWORLD)

The Christian Science Monitor [Boston]. 5 March 1998. Catherine Elton. "Jailed by Mistake, Peru's Innocents Stuck With Terrorist Label." (NEXIS)

Human Rights Watch (HRW), New York. August 1996. Peru: Presumption of Guilt: Human Rights Violations and the Faceless Courts in Peru. (REFWORLD)

_____. 1996. Asylum Policies, Procedures and Practices. (REFWORLD)

_____. July 1995. The Two Faces of Justice: Prosecution of Terrorism and Treason Cases. (REFWORLD)

_____. 1995. Human Rights Watch Global Report on Women's Human Rights. (REFWORLD)

International Herald Tribune [Neuilly-sur-Seine, France]. 18 July 2000. Clifford Krauss. "Peru 'Innocents' Get Back Lives; Hundreds of Peruvians Jailed Unfairly Are Freed, but Scars Remain." (NEXIS)