Peru: Fear for safety of demonstrators in custody
Amnesty International has expressed concern for the safety of the scores of demonstrators from Indigenous communities in the Amazon who have been detained after they were forcibly dispersed in the town of Bagua last weekend.
Clashes between the police and the protestors resulted in at least nine Indigenous people and 24 police officers being killed and at least 200 injured, including 31 police officers. The number of protestors killed is feared to be higher.
Amnesty International has received reports of excessive use of force by police, as well as cases of police officers being abducted and killed by members of Indigenous communities.
According to the Office of the Ombudsperson, 79 people are in police and army custody. However, it is not clear how they are being treated, what they have been charged with, and whether they have access to medical care or legal assistance.
So far, the government has given no details of those injured or detained.
Amnesty International’s Peru Researcher, Nuria Garcia said:
“We are seeking assurance from the authorities in Peru to ensure the safety of the protestors who are being detained.
“In particular we’re calling on the authorities to ensure that all the detainees who were injured during last weekend’s protests are receiving access to medical care and they must also publish a full list of all those being detained, including the places of their detention.”
According to local sources, some of the protestors who have been injured are not receiving adequate medical care, as local health centres are not well equipped.
Members of Indigenous communities began protesting in mid-April about a series of legislative decrees over the use of land and natural resources in the Amazonian jungle. Indigenous communities had not been consulted on this legislation, despite the fact that Peru has ratified the International Labour Organisation Convention 169, which obliges them to consult with Indigenous Peoples on any decisions or legislation which affect their interest. As a result of the protests, on 9 May the government declared a 60-day state of emergency in the area.