Role of the National Intelligence Service (SIN) in anti-crime efforts [PER33832.E]

Country Reports 1999 states that

In 1998 President Fujimori issued a series of decrees that classified acts of extreme violence such as criminal gang activity, homicide, kidnapping, and the use of explosives as aggravated terrorism, to be tried automatically by the military courts in accelerated proceedings with possible maximum penalties of life imprisonment. The Government also created the National Intelligence Directorate for Social Peace and Safety [see below for another possible translation of the original name in Spanish], which increased further the anticrime role of the National Intelligence Service (25 Feb. 2000).

Human Rights Watch states in its 1999 World Report:

To deal with criminal violence, the executive branch of government introduced ten decrees under powers delegated to it by Law No. 26950, enacted by Congress on May 19. ...Taken together, the decrees eroded the due process guarantees of criminal suspects in numerous ways, opened the doors to arbitrary prosecutions. At the same time, they transferred powers to enforce law and order away from civilian courts and the National Police (Policía Nacional, PN) to military tribunals and the SIN [National Intelligence Service]. Decree No. 895, for instance, created a new crime of "aggravated terrorism," applicable to those who "belong to or are accomplices of a gang, association, or criminal grouping that carries or uses combat weapons, grenades, or explosives to carry out a robbery, kidnapping, extortion, or other crime..." Police were allowed to detain suspects without charge for up to fifteen days, and no pre-trial release would be permitted for any reason (22 June 1999).

The report expands on the legal framework and penalties facing those charged under the new decrees, adding that

The anti-crime decrees borrowed features from laws designed to fight leftist guerrillas, even though those laws had been shown to lead to human rights violations and impunity. Decree No. 897, for instance, prohibited courts from calling police officers who interrogated suspects to give evidence in their cases, a feature of current anti-terrorist laws that has drastically reduced the possibility of proving that a confession was forced. Decree No. 901, allowing immunity or reductions of penalties to those volunteering intelligence on criminal activities, was identical to a provision in anti-terrorism law that had led to scores of wrongful convictions because authorities had failed to establish effective means to eliminate coerced or otherwise false statements from the judicial process. Decree No. 904 created a National Directorate of Intelligence for Social Protection and Tranquility (Dirección Nacional de Inteligencia para la Protección y Tranquilidad Social), an Orwellian-sounding body dependent on the SIN that was given responsibility for coordinating and directing police intelligence. The role allotted to the SIN was particularly troubling in view of well-founded evidence of the intelligence organization's involvement in the harassment of political opponents of the current government (ibid.).

Human Rights Watch concludes its description of the impact of the new decrees and the role of the SIN by stating that "police, soldiers, and intelligence units received greater authority to fight common crime-while being subject to fewer institutional safeguards-despite the fact that torture and brutality already characterized the way police treated criminal suspects" (ibid.).

No reference to the role of SIN in fighting crime could be found in the Human Rights Watch World Report 2000.

Following the passage of these decrees by the Peruvian Congress, a noted Peruvian lawyer commented on their content in a newspaper article (El Comercio 6 June 1998). Of greatest concern were the inclusion of common crimes under the category of "terrorism," their handling by military courts, and the penalties prescribed for certain cases, such as that of informants (ibid.). On the role of the SIN, the author states that Decree Law (Decreto Ley) No. 904 created the Dirección Nacional de Inteligencia para la Protección y Tranquilidad Social, mandating it to coordinate with the National Police the planning, organization, direction and execution of intelligence actions for the investigation of crimes referred to in the new decrees (ibid.). The author states that "the big question" (la gran incógnita) is to what extent the Intelligence Directorate would be of help to the police or whether it would direct the police work to suit its own criteria (ibid.). Finally, the author points out that this legislative decree contravenes constitutional provisions that prohibit modifying the law that establishes a state body (ley orgánica) through a legislative decree (decreto legislativo), by creating an institution that is not contemplated in the ley orgánica of the SIN (ibid.).

No other references detailing the role of the SIN in fighting crime could be found among the sources consulted. Various reports refer to anti-crime initiatives involving the National Police, community associations, municipal governments and taxi associations, although these are reported to participate through the National Directorate of Civic Participation (Dirección Nacional de Participación Ciudadana) of the National Police, created in August 1997 (El Comercio 22 Aug. 1998). In late 1998 a retired police general and former director of counter-intelligence of the SIN reportedly declared at a national symposium on crime and public security that the National Police had claimed some successes against the "wave of kidnappings" that prompted the above-mentioned decrees, relying solely on police forces and without involvement or help from members of the SIN (ibid. 26 Aug. 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. Please see below the list of sources consulted in researching this information request.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. 25 February 2000. "Peru." [Accessed 29 Feb. 2000]

El Comercio [Lima]. 26 August 1998. "Combaten ola de secuestros sin intervención del SIN." [Accessed 2 Mar. 2000]

_____. 22 August 1998. "Mil 200 taxistas trabajan con la PNP en seguridad ciudadana." [Accessed 2 Mar. 2000]

_____. 6 June 1998. Raul Ferrero Costa. "¿Mayor seguridad ciudadana?" [Accessed 2 Mar. 2000]

Human Rights Watch, New York. 22 June 1999. Human Rights Watch World Report 1999. "Peru." [Accessed 29 Feb. 2000]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases.

Latinamerica Press [Lima]. 1998-99.

Latin American Regional Reports: Andean Group Report [London]. 1998-99.

News from Human Rights Watch/Americas [New York]. 1998-1999.


World News Connection (WNC).

Note on oral sources:

Oral sources are usually contacted when documentary sources have been exhausted. However, oral sources must agree to be quoted in a publicly available Response to Information Request. If they refuse, the Response will read "no information currently available." Contacting oral sources is also subject to time constraints; for example, there are periods of the year when academics are unavailable.

Note on contacting foreign diplomatic representatives in Canada:

Embassies and high commissions are not usually called for security-related questions such as location of military bases or the functioning of secret services. Ability to obtain information from diplomatic representatives depends on availability of information and cooperation from individual countries.


This list is not exhaustive. Country-specific books available in the Resource Centre are not included.