Hugo Juarez Cruzzat and others v Peru: hearing at the Inter-American commission of human rights
On the 14th November, the Inter-American Commission will hear testimony from witnesses to the 1992 massacre at Miguel Castro Castro prison which left more than 60 inmates dead and more than 100 injured.
In this attack, Peru is accused of committing mass violations of the right to life and freedom from torture which due to their severity, wide and systematic nature, would amount to crimes against humanity, states Monica Feria of REDRESS, counsel for the Petitioners:
“Witnesses to the events testify that on 6 May 1992 at about 4:30 a.m. Peruvian military and elite police forces launched a full scale attack on the female cellblock which contained over 131 female prisoners accused of belonging to the Communist Party of Peru (known by the media as Shining Path). The Government forces demolished the building both by air and land using heavy armament including artillery automatic weapons, mortars, instalaza rockets, grenades, dynamite, plastic explosives, rockets fired from helicopters, canons, incendiary weapons and asphyxiating gases which attacked the respiratory system causing excruciating pain. The assault lasted until 9 May and concluded in the destruction floor by floor of cellblock 4B where the female prisoners had sought refuge. This cellblock housed around 460 males prisoners accused of belonging to the same organisation.”
On 9 May, when the survivors were leaving cellblock 4B, security forces began selectively and summarily executing them. In the aftermath of the massacre survivors were subjected to a concentration camp-like regime.
“The prison regime was intentionally designed to incrementally degrade the prisoners’ physical and mental health,” maintain the Petitioners.
The official version, put forward by the then newly-formed Government of Alberto Fujimori, was that the events had been triggered by a prisoners’ riot and that authorities acted only to the extent necessary to re-establish order. The Government maintained that those who died were shot by fellow prisoners when they attempted to surrender.
“The prisoners’ demands for independent observers and their attempts to negotiate a peaceful solution were rejected. Even the offers of the Inter-American Commission to use their good offices were rejected by the Government,” state the Petitioners.
The truth was therefore never made public, and the Petitioners, on behalf of survivors, lodged this action so that the truth be known.
This case was first lodged in May 1992, and the Inter-American Commission declared it admissible in March 2001. Despite the fact that the incident occurred almost 10 years ago, there has been no independent and impartial investigation of this incident undertaken by the Government of Peru. This Hearing, therefore, is the first opportunity victims have had to testify to these events.
In this case, the Petitioners introduce evidence that this operation was directed from the highest levels of Government, constituting new prima facie evidence against former Peruvian Head of State Alberto Fujimori for his participation in crimes against humanity. Alberto Fujimori is currently in Japan and attempts to extradite him for other offences have so far been unsuccessful.
For further information, contact:
Monica Feria: Washington, D.C. at 202-974-4154; 917-941-5323
Carla Ferstman: REDRESS, London, UK at +44 (0)207 329 7322