Senate letter to President Fujimori
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
August 6, 1996
President Alberto Kenyo Fujimori Fujimori
Palacio de Gobierno
Plaza de Armas s/n
Dear President Fujimori:
We write to express our deep concern that Ms. Lori H. Berenson, a United States citizen, has not been afforded her rights of due process of law. Ms. Berenson was recently convicted of treason by a military tribunal in Peru and is currently imprisoned in Yanamayo prison. The lack of due process at her trial leaves the question of her involvement in illegal activity unanswered.
We are particularly concerned that Ms. Berenson did not have an open trial; was not allowed to cross-examine witnesses or challenge evidence; and was tried in a military court by judges whose identities were concealed. Such practices preclude a fair trial. We urge you to take steps to ensure that she is retried before a civilian court which upholds internationally recognized rights of due process.
We note that Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Peru on April 28, 1978, stipulates that:
Everyone shall be entitled to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law...
[and is entitled] To examine, or have examined, the witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him.
In addition, it appears inappropriate to try civilians in a military court. We are aware that the Peruvian Government gave assurances to Assistant Secretary of State Alexander Watson over two years ago that civilians would no longer be tried in military courts.
We find it troubling that during the trial of Ms. Berenson, the Peruvian judicial system failed to uphold these and other international standards. The Constitution of the Republic of Peru states that:
it is the duty of the President of the Republic to obey and ensure obedience to the Constitution and all treaties, laws, and other legal provisions. (Article 118)
While we make no claims concerning Ms. Berenson's alleged guilt, we ask that you take the necessary steps to provide an open and fair proceeding in a civilian court. Indeed, the entire Peruvian judicial system should be brought in line with the solemn international commitments made by the Peruvian Government.
We thank you for your attention to our request.
James M. Jeffords
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
Alfonse M. D'Amato
Christopher J. Dodd
Ben Nighthorse Campbell
Patrick J. Leahy
John D. Rockefeller IV
Daniel K. Inouye
Barbara A. Mikulski
Wendell H. Ford
John F. Kerry