Senate Letter to Secretary Albright

Majority of Senators Sign, Supporting Due Process for Lori

December 1997

On December 5th, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D - NY) delivered a "Dear Colleague" letter signed by 52 members of the US Senate to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. The letter urged her to do all within her power to impress upon the Peruvian government the importance of providing an open trial in a civilian court for Lori. In addition, Sen. Paul Coverdell, as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere and Peace Corp Affairs, wrote his own letter to Secretary Albright regarding Lori's case -- and we are indebted to him for that effort.

As with the letter from the House of Representatives which attained a near majority of Congressional signatures, we also have been told that this clear majority of 52 signatures represents one of the largest gathering of signers in the U.S. Senate for a "Dear Colleague" letter in recent memory. This once more demonstrates that the continued miscarriage of justice in the case of Lori Berenson will not be tolerated, that the issue will not "go away" and will continue to be an ever growing "thorn in the side" of Peruvian - U.S. relations.

We are very grateful to Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan for agreeing to initiate and sponsor this "Dear Colleague" letter and, in particular, for the assistance and advice from members of his Washington D.C. staff -- Michael J. Lostumbo, Margaret Sloane, and Joshua A. Brook.

December 5, 1997

The Honorable Madeleine K. Albright
Department of State
Washington D.C. 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

On January 11, 1996, Lori Berenson, an American citizen, was sentenced to life in prison by a secret Peruvian military tribunal in violation of international law. Specifically, she was denied a fair public trial by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal, as required by Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Peru on April 28, 1978. The Peruvian anti-terrorism laws afford no due process and have been strongly criticized by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and other human rights organizations.

Last summer, 20 Senators and 87 Representatives wrote to Peruvian President Fujimori, asking him to take steps to ensure that Ms. Berenson be retried before a civilian court which upholds internationally recognized rights of due process, but have never received a reply. Ms. Berenson is living in excessively harsh conditions in a Peruvian maximum security prison which endangers her health and allows extremely limited access to her family and legal counsel.

The lack of due process at Ms. Berenson's trial leaves the question of her involvement in illegal activity unanswered and she must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. While we make no claims concerning Ms. Berenson's alleged guilt, we ask that you do all within your power to impress upon the Peruvian government the importance of providing her an open and fair proceeding in a civilian court without further delay.

Thank you for your consideration.


  1. Moynihan, Daniel Patrick (D-NY)
  2. Akaka, Daniel (D-HI)
  3. Baucus, Max (D-MT)
  4. Biden, Joseph, Jr. (D-DE)
  5. Bingaman, Jeff (D-NM)
  6. Boxer, Barbara (D-CA)
  7. Breaux, John (D-LA)
  8. Bumpers, Dale (D-AR)
  9. Burns, Conrad (R-MT)
  10. Campbell, Ben (R-CO)
  11. Chafee, John (R-RI)
  12. Coats, Daniel (R-IN)
  13. Cochran, Thad (R-MS)
  14. Coverdell, Paul (R-GA) Sent his own letter to Sec. Albright
  15. Craig, Larry (R-ID)
  16. D'Amato, Alfonse (R-NY)
  17. Daschle, Tom (D-SD)
  18. Dodd, Christopher (D-CT)
  19. Dorgan, Byron (D-ND)
  20. Durbin, Dick (D-IL)
  21. Feingold, Russell (D-WI)
  22. Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA)
  23. Ford, Wendell (D-KY)
  24. Glenn, John (D-OH)
  25. Grassley, Chuck (R-IA)
  26. Harkin, Tom (D-IA)
  27. Hatch, Orrin (R-UT)
  28. Inhofe, James (R-OK)
  29. Inouye, Daniel (D-HI)
  30. Jeffords, Jim (R-VT)
  31. Johnson, Tim (D-SD)
  32. Kennedy, Ted (D-MA)
  33. Kerrey, Bob (D-NB)
  34. Kerry, John (D-MA)
  35. Landrieu, Mary (D-LA)
  36. Lautenberg, Frank (D-NJ)
  37. Leahy, Patrick (D-VT)
  38. Levin, Carl (D-MI)
  39. Lieberman, Joseph (D-CT)
  40. Mikulski, Barbara (D-MD)
  41. Moseley-Braun, Carol (D-IL)
  42. Murray, Patty (D-WA)
  43. Reed, Jack (D-RI)
  44. Robb, Charles (D-VA)
  45. Rockefeller, John D., IV (D-WV)
  46. Roth, William V., Jr. (R-DE)
  47. Santorum, Rick (R-PA)
  48. Sarbanes, Paul (D-MD)
  49. Sessions, Jeff (R-AL)
  50. Specter, Arlen (R-PA)
  51. Torricelli, Robert (D-NJ)
  52. Wellstone, Paul (D-MN)
  53. Wyden, Ron (D-OR)