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Put human rights at heart of development, Zeid urges Peru


GENEVA/LIMA (25 October 2017) – Peru has made great strides over the last decade in reducing poverty, but needs to stand up firmly for human rights to ensure its economic model is sustainable and works for the benefit of all, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said on Tuesday at the end of a two-day visit to the country.

“I welcome Peru’s efforts to fight poverty and exclusion, and its economic progress is undeniable. The country must now consolidate such advances by continuing to strengthen the rule of law and the protection of human rights,” said Zeid, whose visit included meetings with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, as well as with authorities from Congress and the Judiciary, civil society representatives and the private sector.

“Development, to be truly sustainable, should not leave anyone behind, and should never be at the expense of the rights of some members of society,” the High Commissioner stressed.

While expressing concern about the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights in the country, Zeid said: “Peru has a great opportunity to significantly improve its human rights situation. In this endeavour, it is crucial to recall that international treaties ratified by the country impose obligations not only on  the Government but also on  Congress, the Judiciary and all State institutions.”

The High Commissioner highlighted the Government’s development of a National Human Rights Action Plan and called for the meaningful participation of all sectors, particularly civil society groups and the Ombudsman’s Office in its elaboration.“It is our sincere hope that the resulting National Action Plan can adequately address Peru’s human rights needs, particularly those of the most vulnerable groups,” he said. Zeid also reiterated the readiness of the UN Human Rights Office, including through its Regional Office for South America, to continue providing support and technical expertise on this and other human rights initiatives.

There has been progress in consulting indigenous peoples on mining, energy and other development projects since the adoption in 2011 of a landmark law, Zeid said, but more needs to be done to ensure they can give their free, prior and informed consent for such projects, in line with international human rights standards.

“Speaking to civil society groups, I heard their burning sense of injustice that decisions affecting people’s land, lives and futures are made by others,” Zeid said, highlighting that dozens of social conflicts and protests erupt each year in Peru, many linked to the mining, oil and logging sectors. “This is why, in my talks with business leaders, I stressed the urgent need for companies to respect the human rights of indigenous peoples, human rights defenders and trade unionists. Meaningful consultation and dialogue do not undermine business, rather they serve to advance the human rights and business agenda.”

Zeid also urged the Government to implement without delay measures to increase the protection of human rights defenders. “Peru is no exception to a trend across the Americas - and indeed the world - of harassment, intimidation and alarming attacks on human rights activists,” he noted.

The implementation of the 2016 legal framework and national plan to search for people missing between 1980 and 2000 is also urgent, the High Commissioner said.

“Such steps are vital to help Peru come to terms with its painful past that saw so much suffering and bloodshed, but I am concerned that the recommendations made more than a decade ago by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have to date been insufficiently implemented,” he said.

“The high level of impunity for violations committed during this period is deeply troubling. The needs of victims and their relatives must be addressed, including their right to truth, justice and reparations. In addition, resources must be made available to ensure that the search for the missing can be fully carried out.”

Zeid also heard concerns about the possibility of a presidential pardon for former President Alberto Fujimori, who was sentenced in 2009 to 25 years in prison for very serious human rights violations. “Fujimori was convicted of crimes amounting to crimes against humanity, that is, crimes of interest to the international community as a whole. The international community must be approached and engaged in this highly important matter,” the High Commissioner recalled.

With women and girls at high risk of gender-based violence in Peru, the passing of laws designed to prevent and punish such violence, including domestic violence and femicide, is important, Zeid noted. Nevertheless, rigorous implementation and strong preventive measures are also required, because in too many cases the perpetrator escapes punishment. “I urge the Government to address the social and cultural attitudes that continue to be used to justify violence against women,” the High Commissioner said.

Zeid also called for improvements in the area of sexual and reproductive rights of women. The recent amendments by Congress to measures aimed at promoting gender equality and LGBTI rights were a “setback,” he added.

The High Commissioner welcomed Peru’s election as a Member State of the UN Human Rights Council. “I look forward to Peru’s full cooperation with the Council by upholding the highest human rights standards for the world, which must also be pursued at the national level,” he said.


For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva: Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 97 67 / rcolville@ohchr.org), or Liz Throssell (+41 22 917 94 66 / ethrossell@ohchr.org)
Travelling with the High Commissioner: Maria Jeanette Moya (+56979997907 / mmoya@ohchr.org)

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