The Peruvian State Acknowledges Responsibility for the Violation of the rights of Azul Rojas, a Trans Woman Survivor of Abuse and Torture

  • More than 2 years ago, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) ruled in favour of Azul and held Peru responsible for the torture and other acts of violence that she suffered.

On 3 November 2022, the Peruvian State for the first time apologised to a Peruvian citizen who is a member of the LGTBIQ+ community for the violation of her human rights. This apology was offered to Azul Rojas Marín, a trans woman who suffered torture and sexual violence by police officers, and who, not finding justice at the national level, brought her case to the Inter-American Court, which ruled in her favour in February 2020.

The ceremony, which took place in the auditorium of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, was addressed by the Minister of Justice, Félix Chero, and by senior officials from the Judiciary and the National Prosecutor’s Office, and other other State institutions, and by Azul herself. Also in attendance were representatives of embassies, international organisations and civil society.

Félix Chero Medina, Minister of Justice, said:

“I affirm, in the name of the government of Peru, sincere apologies for what occurred, for this violation of your human rights…Today I met with my team to redouble our efforts in such a way that…we can push forward, manage and coordinate the reparations [due in this case]. This act of recognition is not sufficient by itself; the [IACtHR’s] judgement must be complied with in its entirety. The state must honour its commitments.”

Gen. Adolfo Gregorio Valverde Arcos, Director of the National Directorate of Criminal Investigations (National Police), said:

“We profoundly regret the events that harmed Azul Roja Marin and [her mother], …and we reiterate our commitment to combat all forms of discrimination and violence against LGBT people and other vulnerable persons.”

Patricia Benavides Vargas, Chief Public Prosecutor, said:

“In light of the wrong done to you [Azul], I want to affirm the institutional commitment from my ministry that egregious acts of this kind will never be repeated.”

Azul Rojas Marín said:

“This formal ceremony which was ordered by the Inter-american Court is something very fulfilling for me. But I would like to point out that there are other [measures] which the Peruvian government has yet to comply with. This marks the beginning of progress, much of which is still to come. I want to take advantage of this ceremony to urge the representatives here to continue defending human rights. I want to give special thanks to the whole team that continues to accompany me in this struggle.”

The Azul case

On February 25, 2008, Azul, a trans woman, was detained by police officers in an illegal, arbitrary and discriminatory manner. She was violently taken to the Casa Grande district police station in Ascope province, Trujillo, where she remained detained until six o’clock in the morning. Once there, Azul (who at that time identified as a gay man) was the victim of ill-treatment, insults, and violence including rape, by the police officers due to his sexual orientation.

The legal actions initiated, both nationally and internationally, sought to have Azul recognised as a victim of psychological, physical and sexual violence due to Azul’s non-normative sexual orientation; demanded that these attacks against Azul be characterised as a form of torture, and that those responsible be punished for it as well as the officials who prevented the proper investigation of the incident and prevented proper penalties from being imposed.

In February 2020, the Inter-American Court found the Peruvian State responsible and ordered a series of reparation measures, including an act of public apology. Although this public recognition will be provided on November 3, other reparations are still pending, such a plan to provide training and raise awareness regarding the rights and treatment of LGBTI people, particularly aimed at justice, serenazgo and police officials, and a protocol to investigate and administer justice during criminal proceedings in cases concerning violence against LGBTI people.

It should be noted that there has still not been a final favourable domestic court decision to determine the criminal responsibility of the police officers for the torture and sexual violence perpetrated against Azul due to her sexual orientation.

Watch a video about Azul’s story

Read more about the case

For more information, contact Eva Sanchis, REDRESS’s Head of Communications, on [email protected] or +44 (0)20 7793 1777.

Photo by Promsex