The national flag of Peru waving on a flagpole on top of a Spanish-colonial style building during day time. Smooth_O/Wikimedia

Peru: Authorities must immediately cease excessive use of force against civilians and prevent further deaths

Peruvian authorities must immediately cease the unnecessary and disproportionate use of force against the civilian population as a first step towards laying the foundations for a way out of the current crisis facing the country, Amnesty International said today, following the deaths of 18 people, including a police officer, in Juliaca, Puno, between yesterday and early this morning.

Since social protests began in different regions of the country on 7 December 2022, at least 40 people, including minors, have died, and dozens, including civilians and police, have been injured, many of them from firearms, in the context of the repression of demonstrations.

“The high number of deaths, including 18 people in the last 24 hours, and the gravity of the events require that the authorities be held accountable to the highest levels. The National Prosecutor’s Office must investigate all those suspected of being responsible, not only directly, but also for ordering or tolerating the excessive use of force and with it the arbitrary deaths and serious injuries that are occurring in the context of the protests,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International.

The declaration of a state of emergency on 15 December has not proven to be an adequate response to the political and social crisis facing the country. On the contrary, Amnesty International and other civil society organizations have found that human rights violations, including deprivation of life through excessive use of force and arbitrary detentions, have increased.

“We deeply regret the deaths of 18 people in Juliaca since yesterday. The escalation of violence taking place in Peru is unacceptable. State repression against demonstrators and the loss of human lives is exacerbating the crisis. We reiterate our call to the authorities for complete respect for human rights. Security forces must comply with international standards on the use of force. The people should not have to pay the price of the political crisis the country is going through,” said Marina Navarro, executive director of Amnesty International Peru.

Amnesty International demands that the Peruvian state conduct a prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the possible human rights violations that have occurred since the beginning of the protests in order to identify, prosecute and punish those responsible, including the chain of command of the security forces up to the highest level.

Finally, Amnesty International urges the authorities to deploy all available resources to attend to those who have been injured, guaranteeing their immediate medical attention, and that the passage of ambulances and the work of the medical staff be respected.