Human Rights in the Americas. Review of 2019 - Peru [AMR 01/1353/2020]


Land and territory-related rights remained at risk and a lack of effective regulations undermined Indigenous People’s rights to free, prior and informed consent. Socio-environmental issues continued to be a major cause of social conflicts. The state failed to respond effectively to continuing high rates of violence against women and pregnancy among girls.


The political crisis continued, characterized by a confrontation between the Executive and Legislative branches of government. In September, in the context of this ongoing crisis, President Vizcarra dissolved Congress, where the majority Fuerza Popular Party was led by Keiko Fujimori, who was held in pretrial detention for over a year and remains under investigation for money laundering. Elections were scheduled for January 2020.


In January, the medical panel that evaluated the health of former President Alberto Fujimori as a result of a court order, concluded that he was healthy enough to be released from the local hospital where he had been treated and he was returned to prison to complete his 25-year sentence for crimes against humanity. The pardon granted to him in 2017 was annulled in 2018[1]. Alberto Fujimori was also under investigation in connection with the forced sterilization of more than 2,000 women without their consent in the 1990s.

Freedom of expression and assembly

In August, in response to peaceful protests against the Tía María mining project, President Vizcarra authorized the deployment of the armed forces to maintain public order in the port of Matarani in the province of Arequipa. This response was counter to international human rights standards which set out strict limits on the use of the armed forces in public order operations.

There were continuing concerns about the imposition of states of emergency to respond to peaceful protests against oil, mining and other infrastructure projects in the country. In October, the government declared a state of emergency for 30 days in the “southern mining corridor” in response to a protest against the Las Bambas mining project. The decree, which allowed for the deployment of the armed forces to police protests, prevented local communities in the area from holding communal assemblies.

Human rights defenders

Concerns remained regarding the misuse of the justice system against human rights defenders, often in the absence of credible evidence to support the charges against them. In May, after almost five years of criminal proceedings, the trial of 19 members of campesino communities in the Apurimac region began. They had been charged in connection with protests in 2015 against the Las Bambas mining project.

In September, the second trial of Oscar Mollohuanca, Herbert Huaman and Sergio Huamani started. The three men were charged with leading a social protest in May 2012 in Espinar province in the Department of Cusco. The protest was in support of the people of Espinar’s demands for the protection of their right to a healthy environment and for the agreement between the mining company and the municipality of Espinar to be revised.

In 2019, criminal proceedings against journalists Paola Ugaz and Pedro Salinas were adjourned. They had been charged in connection with complaints of defamation filed by José Antonio Eguren, Archbishop of Piura y Tumbes, regarding the publication of reports based on their investigations into the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (Sodalitium of Christian Life) society. However, Paola Ugaz continued to be the target of other defamation complaints and campaigns by anti-rights groups.

Right to health

The National Platform of Affected Persons created in 2017 continued to demand public policies to ensure medical care for those exposed to toxic metals and other toxic substances; no such policies were in place by the end of 2019.

Indigenous Peoples’ rights

The exposure of Indigenous Peoples and their communities, as for example in Cuninico and Espinar, to toxic metals and contaminated water continued to be a concern. In Cuninico, the 2018 court ruling ordering the Ministry of Health and the Loreto Regional Health Directorate to provide health care to the communities affected by a 2014 oil spill had not been complied with by the end of 2019.

In August, the prior consultation process regarding the Rules of Procedure of the Framework Law on Climate Change was completed. The regulation was approved on 31 December.

Women’s rights

Policies and laws promoting women rights continued to come under sustained attack. In March, the Supreme Court of Justice dismissed a suit filed by anti-rights groups seeking to eliminate gender equality from the national educational curriculum.

Violence against women and girls

According to the National Homes Survey 2018 (ENDES), 68.2% of women in Peru have been victims at least once in their lives of psychological, physical and/or sexual violence committed by their husband or partner. Between January and September 2019, the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations stated that 133,123 cases of violence against women, violence within the family and sexual violence had been reported to their Women’s Emergency Centres nationally. The Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations recorded 166 feminicides and 404 attempted feminicides in 2019.

Sexual and reproductive rights

Pregnancy rates among adolescent girls remained high. According to the 2018 ENDES survey, 13 out of 100 teenage girls aged between 15 and 19 had children or were pregnant for the first time. The law continued to criminalize abortion in cases of rape.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights (LGBTI)

More than two years after it was presented in Congress, the bill to recognize same-sex marriage had yet to be approved.

Transgender people continued to be denied social and legal recognition of their gender identity, affecting their rights to work, housing, education, free transit and health, among others.

Migrants and refugees

Peru became the country with the second largest population of Venezuelans fleeing their country and with the largest number of Venezuelans seeking asylum. According to official reports, by the end of the year, there were 863,613 Venezuelans in Peru, 377,047 of whom were seeking asylum. During 2019, the government imposed stricter requirements on Venezuelans seeking safety, and changes to asylum procedures at the Peru-Ecuador border appeared to amount to a deliberate policy of rejection of new arrivals. In addition, several Peruvian authorities at the national, regional and municipal levels issued xenophobic statements, such as requesting the deportation of all Venezuelans.

[1] Peru: Supreme Court confirms annulment of Fujimori's pardon and supports victims' rights (News story, 13 February)