“In Peru we say that in December we eat panettone and scandal. And this year was no exception”the lawyer and academic from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, Andrés Calderón, tells this newspaper in relation to the controversial release this week of the former Peruvian president. Alberto Fujimori, sentenced to 25 years in prison for crimes against humanity, and who last Wednesday under the protection of a pardon granted for humanitarian reasons and despite the objection of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Inter-American Court), he was released, opening a diplomatic front between Peru and the Court.
Since 2009, the ruler had been serving a sentence for crimes against humanity for the death of 25 people in two massacres perpetrated in 1991 and 1992. by an army squad. Nine of the victims were university students whom the military accused of being alleged Shining Path guerrillas.
85 years old and diagnosed with several illnesses, Fujimori left the Barbadillo prison, in the east of Lima, on Wednesday, wearing a mask and connected by tube to an oxygen tank.
The former president who suffers from tongue cancer, atrial fibrillation, hypertension, among other ailments, He achieved freedom after the Constitutional Court ordered his release on Tuesday after restoring the pardon that had been granted to him for humanitarian reasons in 2017.
The then government of Pedro Pablo Kuczynski granted him the appeal of pardon, but the Peruvian justice system revoked the measure in response to a request from the Inter-American Court in favor of Fujimori's victims.who ruled with an iron fist between 1990 and 2000.
“In fact, it was on Christmas Eve 2017, when Kuczynski, pressured by the Fujimori bloc in Congress that threatened to remove him, He granted the controversial humanitarian pardon to Fujimori. Then, they claimed health problems and he was released, but later it was demonstrated with evidence that in reality his health condition was not serious and he returned to prison in 2018.”explains Calderon.
In 2022, the same court ordered his departure, but the Government of then President Pedro Castillo did not execute the ruling of the local court and accepted the resolution of the Inter-American Court.
However, this time, in addition to humanitarian reasons, the Constitutional Court alleged that Fujimori had already “he has served approximately two thirds of his sentence” and President Dina Boluarte authorized his releasedespite the fact that the Inter-American Court requested the Peruvian government to refrain from releasing the former president until the legality of the Constitutional Court's decision was reviewed.
Under this panorama, what remains to be seen is whether the Inter-American Court of Human Rights elevates the Organization of American States (OAS) Peru's failure to comply with its order, as indicated by the American Convention and the court's regulations. If successful, it could end in a complaint to the OAS or even an expulsion.
“There are few countries that have previously revolted against the Inter-American Court, these are Nicaragua and Venezuelaso Peru would be joining a trio of rebels who challenge international law,” said Diego Garcia-Sayan, former president of the Inter-American Court and more recently United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.
“We consider that Peru is in contempt of the order of the Inter-American Court. Now what we hope is for the legal-political mechanisms to be activated, for the Court to report to the Permanent Council (of the OAS),” the Center for Justice and International Law (Cejil), one of the organizations that represent the victims of the La Cantuta and Barrios Altos cases.
For former attorney César Azabache Disregarding the mandates of the Inter-American Court “is a very serious turning point by not complying with an express order of the Court.” and how civil rights protections are configured in the country. It is a turn towards a point of no return.”
From the perspective of political analyst Juan David Naranjo: “The Constitutional Court of Peru contributes to creating a diplomatic crisis by ruling in favor of pardoning Fujimori without presenting the substantive arguments to challenge the decision of the Inter-American Court. But, the inter-American system could also be overreaching by demanding that Peruvian institutions not proceed, without knowing whether the Court's decision is taking into account the considerations that the Inter-American Court itself had presented in its 2022 decision.
Of loves and hates
Fujimori is a deeply polarizing figure in Peru. Under his leadership, the Peruvian economy recovered from the depths of hyperinflation and waged an all-out fight against the Maoist Shining Path guerrillas, whose main leaders were arrested. However, he seized power illegally and was convicted of human rights violations.
In November 2000, amid growing opposition after 10 years of government, Fujimori fled to Japan, the land of his ancestors, and resigned from the presidency by fax. He had held almost absolute power after carrying out a “self-coup” on April 5, 1992, dissolving Congress and intervening in the Judiciary.
But, to this day, His figure generates contrary positions. While dozens of followers waited for him throughout the day, they welcomed him with cheers, music and fireworks, The relatives of the victims insist that an injustice is being committed.
“We are condemned to live Decembers between anguish, anger and the feeling of being second-class citizens. Our rights are less than the undue freedom of a criminal,” said Gisela Ortiz, sister of one of the ten students who disappeared at La Cantuta University in 1992.
The representative of the bereaved of this notorious case added, in his X account, that “the 2017 pardon was negotiated” and described the court's ruling as an “unacceptable decision.”
Getting out of the IACHR's jurisdiction has long been a goal of the Peruvian right, including Fuerza Popular, the party now led by Fujimori's daughter, Keiko.
“Although I believe that Fujimori's figure today is more decorative, Keiko is going to try to take political advantage of the matter.” which leads us to an exacerbation of political polarization that veers more between conservatism and progressivism. But, this rivalry is leading us to a worrying institutional situation,” says Calderón, insisting that Peru faces a “new and worrying judicial board game where the rules under which we believed the democratic system worked are different and seem to be those set by whoever holds the power at the time.”
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