Universal Periodic Review
Second session meeting highlights
6 May 2008 (morning)
For use of information media; not an official record
The Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group reviewed the fulfillment of human rights obligations by Peru this morning, during which 28 Council members and observers raised a number of issues pertaining to the human rights situation in the country.
Presenting the national report of Peru was ROSARIO FERNANDEZ FIGUEROA, Minister of Justice of Peru , who noted that the Government of Peru was committed to achieving a just society providing greater opportunities and respecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all its citizens. It was the view of Peru that the Universal Periodic Review was one of the most important tools for implementing human rights values. Enormous efforts had been taken to rebuild Peruvian society in the aftermath of the terrorist actions committed throughout the 1980s during which terrorist organizations such as the "Shining Path" unleashed considerable violence. This terror campaign resulted in some 70,000 victims and had led to severe negative effects on Peru’s infrastructure, manifested in poverty and economic and social inequality. Since then Peru had made considerable efforts to overcome these negative effects. The Peruvian economy had continued to grow over the last six years and poverty was now on the decline. According to ECLAC [the Economic Commission for Latina America and the Caribbean] between 2001 and 2008 poverty in Peru went down by 10%. Today Peru was going through an important stage of economic growth and development, although the most disadvantaged sectors of society did not always receive equal distribution. The Government was taking steps to allow for a greater distribution of wealth in the country while upholding the economic and social rights of the population in the country. One of the main objectives of the President was to reduce poverty in Peru and as a result the Government had instituted a number of projects and programmes to reduce the number of people living in poverty in the country.
The Minister recalled that she recently announced that the National Council for Human Rights of Peru would be strengthened in order to enhance dialogue between the National Council and other Government bodies with the goal of improving the situation of human rights in the country. It was also recalled that Peru extended a standing invitation to all Special Procedures of the United Nations human rights system to visit Peru. Moreover, Peru was party to the seven main human rights treaties as well as the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. Among the many steps taken by the Government of Peru to promote and protect human rights in the country was the establishment of the Office of the Ombudsman and the Constitutional Tribunal and the creation of a National Plan for Human Rights, which was enacted by a Presidential decree in 2005. Through the National Plan a reform process of administrative justice was underway which had led to, among other things, the enactment of a new penal code. Peru was a country which had been affected by serious cases of corruption which involved people, occupying high positions in the Government, the Minister added. In this regard, the Government was taking concerted efforts to root out any form of corruption and to bringing those responsible to justice. Through national reconciliation efforts a new space was created to allow for the full enjoyment of human rights. Of special note was the work of the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Responding to questions posed in advance, the Minister stated that, with regard to the situation of women, it was a priority of the State to protect women’s rights and guarantee equality between men and women. A number of Government institutions had been set up to advance and protect the rights of women in the country and a number of laws had been enacted, among them the law on equal opportunities of March 2007. As to the prison system, after recognizing that there were problems in the prison system, the Government of Peru embarked on a development plan designed to ensure that prison detentions would be in line with international standards and to provide for the construction of six new prisons in Peru and improve the structures of existing prisons aimed at ensuring dignified conditions for prisoners serving sentences in the country. On the issue of the death penalty, the Minister noted that there had been no executions in more than 30 years in Peru. As to NGOs and human rights defenders, Peru provided guarantees to those who received threats as a result of their human rights work. Concerning the Office of the Ombudsman, it was noted that this body was in line with the Paris Principles. And on a question pertaining to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Minister said considerable progress had been made in following up on the recommendations put forth by the Commission, among them the establishment of a system for recording forced disappearances.
During the three-hour interactive discussion delegations noted a number of positive achievements of the State under review. These included the reforms introduced in the areas of women rights, the rights of indigenous people, the rights of disabled and those affected by HIV/AIDS; the elaboration and role of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; the adoption of Peru’s first National Plan of Action for Human Rights; Peru’s accession to the International Convention on mercenaries; the adoption of the Refugee Protection Act; various efforts undertaken to improve and protect women’s rights; the ratification by the State under review of the seven main international human rights treaties; the setting up of the Ministry of Women and Social Development; the positive results of the Office of the Ombudsman; and the efforts taken to harmonize national human rights legislation.
Issues and questions raised by the Working Group, comprised of the 47 members of the Council, and Observers participating in the interactive discussion related to the efforts undertaken to improve the situation of indigenous people; steps taken to discourage acts of discrimination against Afro-Peruvians; the involvement of civil society in the preparation of the Universal Periodic Review report and in human rights policies in general; steps taken to foster dialogue, cooperation and cooperation between government and civil society, especially NGOs on human rights issues; efforts aimed at eliminating all forms of discrimination, violence against women and trafficking in persons; plans to expand the definition of violence against women in accordance with the recommendations of the CEDAW [Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women]; information on the extent of cases of women who had reportedly undergone involuntary sterilization and any legal and policy measures taken to address this matter; the functions of the Ministry of Women and Social Development; efforts taken to combat child labour; steps taken to combat sexual exploitation and trafficking in children; main steps taken in the promotion and fulfilment of the rights of the child; and the measures taken to secure access to health services and medicines to marginalized communities.
Other issues pertained to measures foreseen in the National Plan for Human Rights to encounter the adverse effects of economic activities such as oil production and mining over the full enjoyment of some economic and social rights of communities living in adjacent territories; the prospects for setting up a national system for witness protection; efforts to strengthen the capacities of the judicial system; the steps taken to address the problem of those persons detained without trial; the intention of the State to resolve the issue of providing identification papers to some 1.5 million people who reportedly did not posses these papers and were therefore denied the full exercise of their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights; the percentage of those in Peru who did not have identification papers; the status of the pending visits of the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and on the right to food; efforts to address the legal vacuum existing out of the absence of national legislation aimed at strengthening at regulating the activities of the private security companies operating in the international market; measures taken to shed light on the forced disappearances; and the activities of the Government to prosecute legal cases involving cases of corruption, drug trafficking and activities of "Shining Path" rebels.
A number of delegations also posed specific recommendations. These included: To take further efforts to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to speed up the procedures to address all cases presented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; to report back to the Human Rights Council on the work of the Commission; to promptly, impartially and thoroughly investigate all reports of acts of torture and ill-treatment and forced disappearance perpetrated by agents of the State, and to ensure that military criminal justice system not carry out these investigations; to make further efforts to ensure that those who reported acts of torture or ill-treatment were protect from intimidation and reprisals and to implement the recommendations of the Committee Against Torture; to set up a national record of complaints and case of torture and to establish a national plan against torture; to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on the Civil and Political Rights; and to ratify the Convention on enforced and involuntary disappearances.
Other recommendations included: To take further efforts to improve prison overcrowding and poor prison conditions, including providing prisoners with access to medical staff and court-appointed counsel; to provide the Commission on National Reparation with more financial capacities and resources to strengthen and provide additional support to the authorities to set up an adequate witness protection system; to further strengthen the capacity of the judicial system and to combat corruption within the judicial system; to abolish the death penalty; to draw up a law prohibiting human trafficking; and to consider establishing a national policy for protecting human rights defenders.
Additional recommendations made included: To continue to improve the situation of indigenous people; to take further steps to address discrimination against women and people belonging to vulnerable groups including children, minorities and indigenous people as well as discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation; to ensure the protection of human rights defenders so they could carry out their work freely; to address the issue of identity through issuing identification papers to those who lacked them; to ensure that a gender perspective was fully integrated in the next stages of the Universal Periodic Review; and to establish working groups comprised of relevant governmental and non-governmental entities to identify areas where the government can address discrimination against Afro-Peruvians and propose strategies to accomplish these goals.
Members States taking the floor during the interactive discussion were Pakistan, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Canada, Germany, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Japan, Slovenia, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, China, Mexico, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, France, Italy and Brazil.
Observer States participating in the discussion were Algeria, Colombia, Chile, Turkey, Belgium, Portugal, the United States, Argentina, Australia and Ecuador.
The 14-person delegation of Peru consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Mission of Peru to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The three Council members serving as rapporteurs – troika - for the review of Peru are Mali, India and Cuba.
In accordance with its institution-building package, the three documents on which State reviews should be based are information prepared by the State concerned, which could be presented either orally or in writing; information contained in the reports of treaty bodies and Special Procedures, to be compiled in a report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and information provided by other relevant stakeholders to the UPR including non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, human rights defenders, academic institutions and research institutes, regional organizations, as well as civil society representatives, also to be summarized by OHCHR in a separate document. The reports on Peru can be found here.
The UPR Working Group is scheduled to adopt the report of Peru on Thursday, 8 May.
When the UPR Working Group continues its work this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. it will review the fulfillment of human rights obligations by Guatemala.
Additional information on the Universal Periodic Review mechanism can be located at the UPR webpage - http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx.
To access the webcast for the UPR session please visit http://www.un.org/webcast/unhrc/index.asp