Peru: Government must free innocent prisoners

In a new report, the organisation calls on the Peruvian government to guarantee that all those wrongly accused of crimes of 'terrorism' will be immediately and unconditionally released. Their criminal records should also be erased and they must be adequately compensated so that they can start to rebuild their lives once more.

Amnesty International said: 'Three years after the fall of Fujimori's government, at least 20 Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights and men still remain in maximum security prisons for crimes they never committed. This is entirely unacceptable. More than ten years have passed since the 1992 'anti-terrorist' legislation enabled hundreds to be unjustly imprisoned and still its legacy lives on. 'Each and every 'innocent prisoner' must be immediately and unconditionally released.'

Since the 'anti-terrorist' legislation came into force, Amnesty International has documented at least 1100 cases of 'innocent prisoners'. Many have now been released by means of the Pardon Commissions established in 1996 or through the courts. Many more remain in Peruvian prisons on false charges of crimes of 'terrorism'. Amnesty International has documented at least 20, and believes they represent only a small fraction of those still wrongly held.

Amnesty International said: 'Prisons must identify all possible 'innocent prisoners'. The Pardon Commission, which was established on President Toledo's accession to power, must be given the staff and resources to review all outstanding cases without delay.'

The report, Anti-terrorist legislation and its effects: unfinished business from the transition to democracy, welcomes changes to the 'anti-terrorist' legislation implemented by executive order. This followed the Constitutional Court's ruling in January 2003 that aspects of the legislation contravened the Peruvian Constitution. However, the organisation remains concerned that 'terrorism' has still not been clearly defined. Whilst Amnesty International has not yet been able to evaluate the full effect of these decrees, the organisation welcomes the public retrials for some political prisoners in civil courts.

Amnesty International stressed that the government must also comply with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' decision regarding closure of the Challapalca and Yanamayo maximum security prisons.

The report is available online.

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